It's been a beautiful week around the Park since our last round of Scuzzy weather cleared this past weekend. We have a few more days of Second Summer before the next round of inclement weather arrives on Sunday. These are some of the most spectacular days of the season. So, be sure to take some time on the stream bank, or the tailgate to sit back, enjoy a cold one with some friends, and soak it up!
Clear, bright skies are ideal for the chamber of commerce brochure, and epic landscape shots on Instagram, but they are less than ideal for storied fall angling pursuits. There is still plenty of good fishing to be found on these stellar days, you just need to be more targeted in your approach, and be sure to bring your “A-game” to the water.
Fall fishing in YNP revolves around streamer fishing, and fall hatches (mainly Baetis), both of which are better when weather conditions are super scuzzy. However, just because the forecast has you reaching for your SPF instead of your Gore-Tex, doesn’t mean you can’t find some good fall fishing.
On bright days, streamer fishing, especially for migratory fish, will be more productive during periods of low light levels. That means early in the am, and late in the pm. These are the days to be on the water as early as you can. Brave the cold temps to capitalize on a few hours of fish activity, and then take some time to bask in the sun, and enjoy a late breakfast or early lunch. Alternatively, the last few hours of daylight will also see an increase in activity with fish becoming more comfortable as the sun gets low over the western horizon, and shadows grow long and dark across the water.
If it’s especially warm, you might take advantage of the last of the terrestrial season with a few fish on flying ants, hoppers, or crickets. Otherwise, you could find sparse hatches of fall Baetis mayflies will still occur, and prompt fish to feed. Regardless of the dry fly you throw at fish this time of year, remember that these fish have been playing the game since June, and are in no mood for sloppy presentations, clumsy approaches, or the wrong pattern. Take your time, plan your approach, and step up to the plate with your best swing.
Any plan to fish the park waters this week should also take into account the maddening fact that Yellowstone Cutthroat trout, the cherished backbone of angling in YNP, are a worthless quarry until water temperatures warm into the 50’s at least. Waters that teem with willing fish who rise slowly to yawn on your dry fly and eat it one day will be virtually devoid of life on another if the water temps aren’t high enough for these persnickety, cold-blooded fish to feed. Keep this in mind when heading over to the Cutthroat Corner of the park, and be sure to plan the bulk of your fishing here to the warmest parts of the day. Be on the look out here for fall hatches of Baetis and Hecuba mayflies, and prospect with small ant and hopper patterns.
As always, the corner of 39 Madison Ave in West Yellowstone, MT is the best place for up-to-date info on conditions, flies, and tips before you venture into the Park. Be sure to stop by the shop, and give or get a report.