September is scooching right along, much like the rest of this season we are not sure where all the time goes! All in all, there may be no life better spent than on the river watching the seasons change year in and year out while chasing trout with a flyrod. Before too long, the snow will fly like it does here every winter and you’ll be wishing for just one more day on the river. Standing up on Horse Butte, near the Lookout Tower peering over Hebgen Basin, one can only think of all the trout down below. Add in the Madison Valley and Henry’s Fork drainage and one quickly realizes there is truly no better place to live and fish. Our time here is short, make the most of it and get outside this Fall. Your better half will love you more if you do.
There is more snow in the high country after last week’s storm and the Aspen leaves are now shades of yellow, green, orange and even red. One drive along the Madison River in YNP tells us Old Man Winter is walking down the street a few miles away. Wintery weather is right around the corner and this weekend’s outlook looks to be a bit on the snappy side, that’s for sure. The forecast daytime temps have risen so we might just see more rain than snow here on the level, but the high country will receive another layer of the white stuff. Parts of Montana are calling for 12-24 inches of snow! Keep an eye on the forecast folks, fishy weather is upon us.
Bring your Gore-Tex, an extra layer, some hand warmers, a thermos of coffee, flask of wizzle and your stocking hat. Don’t forget your BWOs, streamers, 5x and some 8lb Maxima. 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.
I’ll break this down into two sections this week; the Wade Stretch and Float Stretch. These two sections are fishing quite differently it seems. For the angler on foot, the Wade Stretch has been producing some solid days. We aren’t saying you’ll catch fish all day long in here, no sir. But for those willing to switch tactics and fish different techniques over the entire day, one will be rewarded. There are fish in the skinny water eating Caddis and BWOs. The streamer bite can be good at times and nymphing will produce as well. There have been periods of the day that seem to shut off and we find that when things do get slow, changing your game is the best idea. The Float Stretch has been a little fickle with the weather patterns changing all the time over the past few weeks. This week we still found a few really nice fish eating hoppers, hard to believe. Floating the Madison is always a fantastic day, but recently some have been better than others. The next five days could be pretty darn good down there with the consistently fishy weather headed our way. A snowy north wind on the Madison in a drift boat can be a cold one, dress appropriately!
Cool, scuzzy weather is coming back again this weekend and next week. From the Lower River up onto the flat water stretches in the caldera, fall hatches are providing some great fishing. Baetis, Pseudo’s, and Mahogany Dun mayflies are all active throughout the Ranch waters now. Cloudy days will provide the best concentrations of emerging mayflies and rising fish. Fall Baetis and Pseudo hatches can bring seemingly every fish in the river to the surface big and small, making it more difficult to isolate a “good” target. Conversely, these can be great opportunities for anglers who are looking to get their feet wet on the Ranch, and get a taste for how the game is played with an abundance of targets. The streamer bit in the Lower River could prove to be quite good over the next week as well.
Henry’s & Hebgen Lake
If the weather forecasters are right, you might want to stick to the rivers this weekend, but once this storm system passes and conditions stabilize, the lake fishing should be in prime shape to really fire off next week. Weeds will continue to die back, revealing the tastiest of food items that have been hiding for the trout for a while – leeches and scuds. Fall is baitfish time as well, so don’t be afraid to fish those suggestive patterns like Seal Buggers along the margins when light is low. Look for fish in shallow, along receding weed margins, and near creek and river mouths as those are all seasonal hot spots, and move into deeper water as the day brightens. While the game shifts to the subsurface presentations in fall, what the fishing might lack in visual stimulation may very well be overshadowed by pounds of trout in the net.
Yellowstone National Park
Blue Winged Olives will be on the menu this weekend and early next week. Swing by and grab Joe’s new BWO pattern and give it a whirl. If things get too dicey for ya, strip a Thin Mint, or black Bouface in search of one of the larger resident Brown Trout that are generally as elusive as Big Foot in the Upper Geyser Basin.
Madison River(in YNP)
Yes, there are fish in the system. However, we have no idea how many there are. Anglers are hanging out swapping stories at the Barns Holes and if you’ve never experienced this behavior, we recommend doing it at least twice. The usual spots are producing here and there, weather has a lot to do with how things are faring on the Madison in the Park. Our best advice is to go fishing, you don’t know if you don’t go! Want us to pick out some flies for ya? Swing by, we’d love to.
The Northeast Corner
Continuing on from last week things haven’t changed much. Stormy days will bring great hatches of fall Baetis and Hecuba Drakes to this part of the park, but they will also bring muddy water and higher flows to the Lamar River and Yellowstone Canyon. Keep a close eye on flows here and consider Slough Creek as an alternative if you’re hoping to fish the Lamar and clarity is prohibitive.
Keep in mind, now more than ever, there is no need to get out on the water early in this part of the park. The early bird does not get the worm here. Rather he and/or she freezes their ass off until late morning waiting for both their toes and the Cutthroat Trout to warm up.
Again, things aren’t changing much from last week. Day by day there are fewer and fewer fish remaining in the Caldera section of the Yellowstone River (between Chittenden Bridge and Fishing Bridge). Naturally, each fall the Cutthroat migrate back to Yellowstone Lake where they over-winter and rest before making a return trip back into the river to spawn again next spring. While numbers of fish are dwindling, some remarkable Cutthroat remain in the river, and fall hatches of Baetis and Heptagenia mayflies create an opportunity for technical dry fly fishing. These fish are spread out far and wide. You have to be prepared to cover some ground hunting for your targets, but when you find them, they will be some of the best dry fly targets of the entire season.
Big Spring Creek – Lewistown, MT
This weekend finds our very own Steve Hoolver getting married to his lovely finance Kari. Kari grew up in central Montana and most of the shop and guides are headed north for the party. Rest assured, the fly shop will be open this weekend! I suspect a few of us will be poking around to see what this little gem has to offer, though. There are rumors of big trout, we’ll see what happens. With the weather forecast, stripping streamers is definitely on the docket. Saturday and Sunday could be filled with Bloody Mary’s and BWOs. Cheers to Kari and Steve!!!