Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – June 20, 2019

by | Jun 20, 2019 | 0 comments

According to the calendar tomorrow is the first day of summer. The longest day of the year. According to the forecast tomorrow is looking more like early spring. After two days of scorching winds a cold front is passing over the area bringing with it significantly cooler weather and a chance of snow above 6500 feet for the weekend. High temps will be in the 50’s and low 60’s, and there is a chance for precip every day for the next week.

This was a big week for snow melt. The snowpack around West Yellowstone lost about 2 feet of depth since our last report. Carrot Basin Snotel, in the southern Madison Range, is reading around 1 foot of snow remaining on the ground at 9000 ft, and Black Bear Snotel, south of West Yellowstone, is showing 3 feet remaining at 8170 ft. With colder weather on the way, we should see the melt slow down, and possibly see some additional accumulation to the snowpack in places.

This Friday 6/21 and Saturday 6/22 is the annual Henry’ Fork Days celebration presented by our good friends at the Henry’s Fork Foundation. This is a great way to celebrate our beloved fishery and support this fantastic organization. If you’re around Big Sky Country this weekend, be sure to stop by.

Read on to see our take on this week’s fishing, and check out the links below to stay current on area forecasts and flows.

Stay tuned as we report each week on hatches, flows, weather, and more. For the most up to date info stop by the shop, give us a call, or drop us a line.

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows

Henry’s Fork

Year after year, June is the month that truly showcases why the Henry’s Fork ranks among the world’s greatest trout fisheries. And, this June has been no differen

The Lower River has fished very well with solid hatches of Green Drakes. PMD’s, Flavs, Gray Drakes, caddis, and Golden Stones are all contributing to the trout gluttony as well.

Up in the Caldera, PMD’s, Caddis, and a stray March Brown are around. Look for Green Drakes to get rolling here in the coming days.

The Box Canyon remains a great option for nymphing as well as some dry fly fishing with golden stones. Flows from Island Park Dam were reduced yesterday to 760 cfs after holding stready around 900cfs for the past week. Flows will be adjusted to match inflow which should stay relatively low with cooler weather in the forecast.

This is a great time to hunt with a dry fly for some of the larger resident brown trout from Warm River to Ashton. Golden Stones, Green Drakes, PMD’s, and Caddis all have fish looking up right now. And, with all of that bug activity, big browns have moved out of their deep dark holding water and into prime feeding lies.

Yellowstone National Park

This coming week will be a great time to look for PMD hatches on the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers in YNP. With cooler, wetter weather predicted expect to see good emergences anytime from 11:00am to 4:00pm. Keep in mind that the thermal influences play a major role in the timing of hatches on these rivers. Often times we will see hatches at different times on all three of these rivers, as well as at different times along the course of the same river depending on the proximity to thermal tributaries. Generally speaking, the lower reaches of the Firehole, like Fountain Flat Dr and the Firehole Picnic Area, will have warmer water and earlier hatches than the upper areas like Biscuit Basin. So, if you find yourself knee-deep in any of these fisheries in the coming week with ideal conditions (scuzzy) and no bugs or rising fish, pull up stakes and check another spot, it’s likely happening somewhere else.

Another area in YNP to explore for good hatches of PMD’s this week is the Lewis River. The glassy, spring creek waters from the outlet at Lewis Lake to the top of the rugged canyon can be a great option on scuzzy afternoons. Keep an eye out for Green Drakes here in the coming week(s) here too.

Madison River

Runoff has been a factor on the Fifty Mile Riffle this week with cold water temps and varying visibility leading to inconsistent fishing. This weekend’s cooler weather should improve conditions here. Dry fly fishing is still some time away, but nymph fishing, especially with rubberlegs and other stonefly imitations, will become more and more productive. With only 1 foot of snow remaining in Carrot Basin the vast majority of runoff is behind us for the Madison. As the weather warms back up next week we should see the last of that snow melt, and conditions beginning to improve rapidly.

Hebgen Lake

Chironomids continue to dominate the trout menu recently.  And by dominate, we mean there are times when it can be downright impossible to move a fish on anything but a proper imitation, fished at the proper depth.  Even our favorite buggers and nymphs were ignored one morning last week.  Look for fish feeding on our very near the surface on the calmer, warmer mornings and evenings.  This pupa gulping action can be absolutely maddening, and it will test your presentation skills.  Super fun.  As fish go deeper, look to match your fly to the sizes of shucks on the water, and spend time experimenting to dial in the depth.  If you are new to the chironomid game, check out this blog post from Matt with Canadian stillwater specialist Phil Rowley.  It will help with pattern presentation and selection.


If you are concerned that chironomid fishing means “watching the bobber”, fear not.  Try the same patterns fished “naked” on floating line and flourocarbon leader with a super slow hand twist retrieve, or unweighted or lightly weighted patterns on a slow intermediate or midge tip line.  Zone out, look at the mountains, but be ready for a jolting grab.