Here we go again!!! Welcome to the first Weekly Fishing Report from Big Sky Anglers for 2019. Memorial Day weekend is a few days away, and that means that the start of another season is officially upon us. Many of our local waters remain open year round, and we’ve already seen some terrific fishing over the last few weeks, but this Saturday is opening day in Yellowstone National Park and we consider that the official start to the season.
We’ve had a busy winter here at Big Sky Anglers. The off season was full of travel to far off fishing destinations like Patagonia, New Zealand, British Columbia and Australia. We were busy finishing construction at our new partner lodge, the Golden Stone Inn. And, we stocked the shop full of all the latest flies and gear from companies like Simms, Orvis, and Winston. Now the team is all back in West Yellowstone ready for another great season in Yellowstone Country.
We saw above average snowpack across Yellowstone Country for the third winter in a row, and we couldn’t be happier with how the water is shaping up for the upcoming season. Snowmelt has been gradual so far witch means we still have a lot of snow left in the high country, and much more run-off yet to come.
Weather this week has felt more like the end of winter than the middle of spring here in West Yellowstone. Temps have been in the 40’s all week and the high country received a few new inches of snow. It looks like things will warm slightly into the 50’s for the weekend with rain and clouds.
Read on to see our take on this week’s fishing, and check out the links below to stay current on area forecasts, flows, and snow pack.
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.
Carrot Basin Snotel (Madison River drainage)
Black Bear Snotel (this is the closest station to the headwaters of the Firehole R and a good general indication of snow pack in that area. This is also one of the four indicators of snow pack and water supply for the upper Henry’s Fork)
Island Park (Upper Henry’s Fork)
Crab Creek (Centennial Mountains – Upper Henry’s Fork)
White Elephant (Sawtelle Mountain – Upper Henry’s Fork)
Yellowstone National Park
This Saturday, May 25th, is opening day for the 2019 fishing season in Yellowstone National Park, and conditions are better than we’ve seen in several years. Cold, wet weather of late has slowed snow melt. In fact, flows on the Firehole River are almost half of what they were this time last year at roughly 600cfs, and the clarity is the medium tea-stained brown that we are accustomed to seeing early in the season. More scuzzy weather is in the forecast for this weekend. So, we don’t expect to see much of a bump up in flows. What we do expect to see is a good number of mayflies, and rising trout. Look for both Baetis (size 18-20) and PMD’s (size 14-16) on the Firehole this weekend from late morning through the afternoon hours. If the sun pokes out, be prepared with some size 16, tan Caddis imitations. And, don’t forget to have a few soft hackles and small wooly buggers if you want to play the subsurface game.
While we are excited about the cooperative flows this weekend, it’s important to note that we are far from being out of the woods with run-off this Spring. Several yards of snow remain on the ground in the high country, and you will want to keep a watchful eye on the weather and stream flows over the next few weeks. Any spurt of warm, sunny weather will crank up the run-off and immediately change water conditions. If you’re thinking of making a trip up to Yellowstone Country to check out the fishing, give us a ring, or swing by the shop for all the latest info and reports.
You guessed it…run-off has eased up here as well. Flows from Hebgen dam have been held consistently around 1200 cfs this week, but levels on the lower river in the valley have been slowly falling as cooler weather continues to slow snow melt. Clarity has been improving as well with the usual suspects – Cabin Cr, Beaver Cr, and the West Fork – contributing less and less mud to the river. We’ve seen consistent nymph fishing with the standard early season assortment of stonefly and caddis imitations, as well as some exciting streamer takes with small sculpins. Mother’s Day Caddis (Brachycentrus) are active throughout the Madison valley, and with clearing water you might find a random fish with enough early season enthusiasm to take a well presented dry from the surface.
Water conditions have improved this week and the river is fishing well, but it’s important to remember that it is still early season, and flows are still high. The gauge at Kirby is ready roughly 1500cfs which is big water to be wading in. So, take your time and stay safe out there.
Early season fishing on the Fork has been good to us this year, and it continues to be one of Yellowstone Country’s best fishing options this week. The boat ramp at the top of Box Canyon finally melted out a couple of weeks ago, and since then we’ve seen good nymph fishing with standard canyon fare like rubberlegs and small tungsten beadheads. The lower river has also produced consistent nymph fishing, and some occasional dry fly eaters. A spattering of March Browns, Baetis, and caddis can be found on the lower river, and, although conditions have been tough, a few fish have been rising in select spots.
The big question on everyone’s mind is where are the salmonflies, and when are they going to hatch? On most years we have generally seen a few by now. At this time last year the big bugs were rolling from Ora to Chester, and about to pop from Warm River to Ashton. This year has been cool and wet, though. And, while we are seeing tons of nymphs staging near the bank, it still seems like they might be a week or more away from really going. A little warm weather is what it will take to move things along. However, warm weather will also bring a bump in flows. So, be sure to check flows before making a trip, and know that you can always give the shop a call for up to date reports.
Conditions have been a little rough for the stillwater game this week, but Hebgen is primed for some terrific fishing on the next calm, warm evening. Giant midges can still be found in the arms and along the north shore of the lake. When conditions are right (warm and calm) fish can be seen rising consistently to size 12-16 midge imitations.