Welcome to the back-to-school edition of the lake report!
If you've been hanging around West Yellowstone lately, you know this already, but there is an undeniable vibe of Autumn in the air these days, perhaps a bit earlier than usual. The weather report is showing high temps in the 60s this coming week with a variety of conditions ranging from clear to stormy to downright rainy. These early Autumn transitions always bring with them a bit of sadness as well as uncertainty and excitement for me. I am sad knowing that the days of chasing the hatches and technical challenges of summer lake fishing are numbered. But I never leave those fly boxes at home, just in case of a surprise. I especially keep my terrestrial patterns ready to deploy, as the winds of early September often blow hoppers, ants, and more onto the menu. My uncertainty comes from not knowing exactly when the fish will pick up on the same fall vibes that I feel, and shift into their own Autumn routines like shifting to beefier foods like leeches, scuds, and baitfish and moving back shallow or into areas where they will stage prior to making runs up river. My excitement comes from the certainty that the next 4 to 8 weeks will likely be my window to find the biggest fish of my season - fattened up from a full summer of feeding, and perhaps dumbed down by the urge to binge just a bit more before the temps drop and their world becomes capped with ice once more.
Cooling temperatures have nearly all the stillwater options back in play, so if the weather is too rough and keeps you off of the larger water bodies, don't be afraid to walk into a smaller lake or pond and see what happens. A word of caution to finish. The same urges that move the trout around in Autumn also work on the big critters of the forest including bears and elk. If you are getting even a few casts from the pavement in coming days, please be aware, adventure with a buddy, and bring your pepper spray.
Take Care and Fish On, Matt