Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – October 17, 2019

by | Oct 17, 2019 | 0 comments



  1. Foul and unpleasant
  2. Gray, Cold, Wet Weather – the type we dream about for fall fishing in Big Sky Country
  3. The best conditions for epic emergences of beatis mayflies, and rambunctious, migratory brown trout

After several days of glorious Indian Summer conditions, we are looking down the barrel at a week of good old fashioned scuzz in West Yellowstone.

Yet another rugged fall storm will roll into Caldera Country on Friday bringing snow and cold temps – perfect scuzzy weather. High temps will struggle to get out of the 30’s and morning lows will dip into the teens. Snow is predicted each day until next Tues, but accumulations don’t look to be more than a few inches.

These conditions will prompt heavy hatches of baetis mayflies and provoke migratory trout, but it takes preparation and the right gear to hang tough in these challenging conditions.

Puffy layers, Gore-Tex shells, and a Hydro Flask full of soup are mandatory equipment if you want to persevere. This is the time to spring for that new pair of gloves, or those puffy under-wader pants.

When the scuzz descends, it’s critical to plan your fishing day appropriately. If daytime highs are only in the 30’s, don’t expect to see good hatches of baetis until 2pm or 3pm. On especially scuzzy afternoons, the hatch might not occur until as late as 4pm. Light levels will remain low, and that means migratory fish will be on the prowl throughout the day. Don’t feel like you have to be at the Barn’s Pools at day break when it’s 19 degrees. On scuzzy days, those migratory fish will still be active at noon when it’s closer to the daytime high, and they will remain lively until darkness falls.

For those of you in the Pasadena area, our very own Matt Klara will be in town with a late Halloween Treat for everyone.

Matt will be at Orvis Pasadena with a presentation called “Trout Under the Big Sky” on Nov 1.

Many of you have had the chance to meet Matt at one of his Spey Casting classes at the Pasadena Casting Club, or maybe at home here in MT. Now he’s hitting the road with an awesome slideshow with entertaining tales and technical discussion from his years of chasing trout on a fly across Big Sky Country. These are some stories, tips and tricks you will not want to miss.

There’s even free beer and pizza!

Check out this Facebook event link for more info and to RSVP for this fun evening.


We’re down to the final weeks of the season, and there is exciting fishing throughout Big Sky Country. 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

Yellowstone National Park

Well folks, we couldn’t ask for a better set up than this to wrap up the 2019 fishing season in YNP. Water temps are perfect, fish numbers are strong, and, with ideal conditions forecasted, there is sure to be some exciting fishing in the Park this week.

Firehole River

This will be an excellent choice for technical dry fly fishing in the afternoons. You can expect to see thick emergences of baetis mayflies (size #20-22). Though, hatches may be localized depending on water temps. It’s important to keep water temps in mind when fishing the Firehole in the fall. Temps are always warmer downstream as the cumulative effect of geyser water is added to the river. Sometimes you can follow the hatch upstream on scuzzy days with lower reaches having warmer water, and earlier emergences.

Madison River(in YNP)

Somewhere between Hebgen Lake and the falls on the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers there is a truly profound fish. The one. The fish that everyone is hoping for when they string up their rods and wade out into the icy cold water. A mythical trout that rarely, if ever, wanders into water that is accessible to a fly. This is the week to find that trout. Fish hard. Fish long. Don’t waste any opportunities. He’s in there.

The Lewis Lake – Shoshone Lake Channel 

What better way to stay warm on a scuzzy October day in Yellowstone than to hike into the backcountry and fish for trophy brown trout and lake trout?

The four mile long channel between Lewis and Shoshone Lakes is best reached by a 4.7 mile hike down the Dogshead Trail. The channel hosts a spawning run of browns and lake trout from both lakes. More and more fish will populate the channel as we approach the end of the season. These migratory trout are hot to trot when they enter the relatively shallow channel waters, and are fun to target with streamers.

As this is a spawning channel, please keep wading to an absolute minimum. And, keep a staunch lookout for fish that are actively spawning. Reds will be obvious in the shallow water sections, and are to be avoided at all costs. Instead, focus your efforts on deeper runs and pools.

This is a backcountry fishery. So, always be prepared with bear spray, and sound backcountry practices.

Madison River

Streamers, baetis dry flies, and nymphs are on the menu this week on the Fifty Mile Riffle.

Mornings are likely to be slow, but fishing will heat up in the afternoons as baetis and midges become more active.

Cold, scuzzy afternoons are perfect for fishing the walk wade stretch from Earthquake Lake down to Lyons Bridge, or between Hebgen and Earthquake Lakes.

Baetis hatches can be tremendous on scuzzy October afternoons. Take your time. Inspect every piece of slow water along the banks. And, be prepared to make a delicate presentation with a size #20-22 baetis imitation.

Don’t forget the streamer game on this stretch of the Madison as well. There is no shortage of deep runs to fish with a sink tip and streamer, and plenty of ornery brown trout.

Henry’s Fork

A harsh change in weather will activate good dry fly and streamer fishing on the Henry’s Fork as well.

It’s more of the same on the Ranch waters this week with pseudos and baetis mayflies driving the dry fly fishing. Scuzzy weather will concentrate emergences and trigger better numbers of the larger (compared to psuedos) baetis mayflies in the afternoons.

Brown trout in the lower river add another dimension to fall fishing on the Fork with good opportunities to find a real stud on a streamer.

Missouri River

It may be a few hours north of West Yellowstone, but the Missouri River is lower in elevation, and generally remains more temperate later into the fall.

This upcoming week’s forecast on the Mo is calling for considerably warmer weather with daytime highs in the 50’s and slight rain instead of snow.

As BSA’s fall run on the Mo comes to an end this week, we expect to see more good streamer fishing, and a few more baetis mixed in with the strong pseudo hatches we’ve seen.

Henry’s & Hebgen Lake

We hope you took advantage of the last couple of days fine weather and snuck out for a lake session, because, unless you enjoy sitting in a boat or float tube in the snow and wind with temps at or below freezing, you’re out of luck for the next few days.  If the weather forecast ends up being wrong though, short windows of opportunity coinciding with afternoon feeding binges could bring a bend to your rod.  Like we’ve been saying the past few weeks, stick to the subsurface tactics and larger profile offerings like buggers and leeches on intermediate lines, or balanced bugs under an indicator.