Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/08/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/08/2020

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Matt here, filling in for the J3 (Joe, Justin, and Jonathan) who are out and about guiding and fishing this week. Cliches aside, let’s talk about the weather. The unseasonably warm and dry conditions have persisited since our last report, and that is effecting our angling choices. The dark, scuzzy days that we all equate with blizzard Baetis hatches and hard charging streamer grabs simply are not happening (until Sunday). That said, our fish are still here, and they are super healthy from a summer chowing down. Being able to adjust your presentation and clothing throughout the day has been key to angling success and comfort. During low light periods, bundle up against the chill and huck a small streamer or swing a soft hackle. By afternoon, you may find yourself in a t-shirt or tank top drifting hoppers and ants in likely drifts, or sinking a team of tiny nymphs down into a likely looking bucket. It’s all good. It’s all fun. And if you need a break, just stop casting and let that warm, Autumn sun shine down on your face.

The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 8:30pm, seven days a week. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho and the Madison and Missouri in Montana are having some banner days. The east side of YNP is in shape but water temps are getting pretty chilly. The West side has now cooled off; it’s time to fish the Firehole and the Madison. The fly shop is a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer and masks if you don’t have one, we are still under Governor’s mandate to wear them when 6′ of social distance isn’t possible indoors; the staff will continue wearing masks for the unforeseen future. Our fishing report is written on the whiteboard right outside the door for your enjoyment, but as always, the freshest report is inside the doors of the fly shop. Stop on by, say hello and we’ll get you taken care of. Most importantly, stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy your time outside.

Take care and fish on,
~ Matt

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Island Park Dam:  gauge is reading 129 but the actual outflow is around 240 cfsAshton Dam:  732 cfs

The Henry’s Fork continues to be a great place to spend these beautiful fall days from the top of the river to the bottom. The Fork has something for just about everyone from great nymphing and streamer fishing opportunities to something for the dry fly purist. Take a walk or take a float!
The Box has been dropping in flows each week and every day it seems there’s a new rock ready for a fresh coat of fiberglass! Still easy to navigate if you take care, but be sure to stay in your leg locks because the odd rock is going to give you a start for sure. The river is in great shape and relatively easy to read, so get in there and have some fun, this is a beautiful time of year to be in here.

The Railroad Ranch section is getting weedier and weedier as the river drops, but expect good bug activity still during these fall days. Mahoganies, pseudos, and baetis are all on the menu. This blast of weather this weekend ought to pump out a healthy supply of baetis!

The canyons below the ranch are still a great place to spend the day provided the forecast stays nice like it has been lately. These sections are fun on a sunny day, but not necessarily where you want to be if the weather turns sour, so keep an eye on the forecast before committing to anything between Riverside Campground and Warm River.
Below Ashton Reservoir, the river is low but fishing pretty well. We’re always hoping for some cloud cover down here, even a light veil layer can make a difference. However, with a little persistence on a sunny day, anglers can usually come out with a good day’s trout fishing under their belts. Exciting times ahead with fall weather in the forecast, be ready for baetis and some mahoganies!

Yellowstone National Park

While it’s hard to argue with how drop dead gorgeous the weather has been around Big Sky Country, it’s not done much to inspire the fall fishing. Autumn is always a time of transitions. The weather routinely oscillates between summer and winter. Unfortunately, the scales have tipped towards summer more than winter for most of this season. This weekend looks to have a brief opportunity for the scales to tip back in the other direction, and offer a much needed dose of scuzz to the weather. If the forecast holds, Sunday looks like the best chance at cooler temps, cloudy skies, and some precipitation. As the days get shorter, and the nights get colder we will see fewer and fewer solid options in the Park. Nighttime lows are routinely getting down into the 20’s in the high country, and that doesn’t bode well for the last of this year’s terrestrial crop. At the same time, we will see the activity window of Cutthroat Trout getting smaller and smaller as it takes longer for water temps to warm each day. So, whether you’re off to the Northeast Corner, or looking for one more shot at the Yellowstone River, the window of good fishing is getting smaller and smaller, and will be limited to the warmest portion of the day. Bright, warm days are still a good time to hone in your soft hackle game on the Firehole, or Euro-nymph the Gallatin in the park. Both fisheries will also produce sparse emergences of fall Baetis and the mayfly formerly known as Pseudos. The Madison in the Park has resembled the parking lot at a pre-pandemic Jets game recently – lots of disappointed people standing around, bummed about {insert anything here}. Bright, warm weather hasn’t helped the situation, but a quick shot of relief could be coming this Sunday. If it does materialize, expect to see some decent fish movement, both from the lake and within the river systems.

Gallatin River

It’s hard to pick a more scenic time to be fishing the Gallatin Canyon than these Indian summer days that we are having. Fall colors from Aspens, Cottonwoods, and willows are all in full display. The river is at a perfect level with emerald green weed mats pulsing at the bottom of crystal clear runs and pools. And, fish are eager to feed on nymphs and sparse hatches of Baetis mayflies.

Madison River

It’s been bright. It’s been hot. It’s been tough (ish) fishing. But, it’s damn hard to find a prettier place to throw a fly than in the Madison Valley these days. Very sparse hatches of baetis are a daily occurrence, and randomly rising fish are too. The most consistent action has been with nymphs fished under a strike indicator or alfresco, as the Euros do. It’s time to downsize those nymphs. Imitations of small, size 18 and 20 mayfly and midge larvae are a good bet. Larger, heavier imitations of October Caddis in size 8-10 are a good point fly. If you go with a rubberlegs, think small. Like seniors graduating from college, all of this year’s largest adults hatched earlier in the season leaving just the smaller underclassmen behind. Streamers can be a productive option in the biggest runs and pools first thing in the am, and again at last light. Keep in mind, your most productive retrieve will most likely be slow and methodical, rather than quick and aggressive – think playing the cello, not starting the lawn mower. Bright, sunny conditions have these fish laying low, and not very active. 

Henry’s & Hebgen Lakes – By Matt Klara

The lake fishing is in prime shape if you are willing to skip out on the river action and time your fishing to coincide with key weather and feeding windows. Aquatic vegetation is dieing 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. Really start to 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. As water temps really start to cool down, be prepared to slow your presentations as well!

Missouri River – By Joe Moore

I haven’t worn waders for the past ten days here on the Missouri River and I have to say it’s been absolutely wonderful! A year ago, there was six inches of snow on the ground and we were all bundled up. We are begging for those scuzzy overcast days but soaking up the sunshine and warmth is what we must do. It’s the only thing we can do, so enjoy it! The dry fly fishing up here has been minimal to say the least. Those looking hard with a keen eye will find a few nice trout rising, but the days of fishing to pods are not here yet and probably wont be until the river temps drop a little more. All this sunshine has the fish eating subsurface for the most part. Nymphing has been solid and those rainbows in the upper reach from Holter Dam to Stickney have been hotter than pistol and even the best anglers out there find themselves overwhelmed at times when these fish explode and bolt away. Donovan was here most of last week. Jonathan and Earl just got up here and have been stripping streamers with some success. It hasn’t been red hot on streamers just yet, but there have been some nice ones eating small black, olive or white streamers. If you stick with it, you will be rewarded.

River Flows and the Weather Forecast

Below are links to the flows in Montana and Idaho as well as. This time of the year flows and the weather are changing daily, if not by the hour. Click the links below for the most up to date information.
Montana River Flows
Idaho River Flows
West Yellowstone Weather Forecast

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/01/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/01/2020

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Hello there from West Yellowstone – the Trout Capital of the World! 

Last year, about this time, we were digging our drift boats out from under a 2 foot blanket of snow, which was the first of several storms that stretched into October.  Lows were well into the single digits and winter well on its way.  This year is quite a different one altogether, pandemic aside, we’ve been enjoying beautiful Indian summer days, the aspens are in their prime at the moment and an easy living fall has settled in. Our guides have been all over the place here this last week: the Missouri, Jefferson, Yellowstone, Henry’s Fork, Gardner, Gallatin, Firehole, and the Gibbon Rivers. It seems there’s something good to be found in just about any direction one travels from West Yellowstone at the moment.
It was warm enough yesterday and today to throw a hopper around in the middle of the day and even fish in short sleeves.  No matter where you go this week, be prepared for incredible scenery, beautiful days (or a blizzard!), and for changing fishing conditions.  When the weather is fair, late summer and early fall conditions will prevail: nymphs or streamers in the morning and hoppers in the afternoon, when it turns overcast and cold it’s time to start thinking fall:  streamers all day and baetis in the middle, don’t forget everything in between.  
Town has begun to slow down a bit, making the journey into Yellowstone Park a little more peaceful than it’s been, it’s simply a nice time to be around, we hope you’ll come see us! 

The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 8:30pm, seven days a week. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho and the Madison in Montana are having some banner days. The east side of YNP is in shape(watch out for rain storms) and the West side has now cooled off; it’s time to fish the Firehole and the Madison. The fly shop is a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer and masks if you don’t have one, we are still under Governor’s mandate to wear them when 6′ of social distance isn’t possible indoors; the staff will continue wearing masks for the unforeseen future. Our fishing report is written on the whiteboard right outside the door for your enjoyment, but as always, the freshest report is inside the doors of the fly shop. Stop on by, say hello and we’ll get you taken care of.

Take care and fish on,
~ Jonathan

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Flows
Island Park Dam:  gauge is reading 240 but the actual outflow is around 360 cfsAshton Dam:  990 cfs
Fall on the Fork continues to be a good bet.  The river is fishing from top to bottom, so now is a good time to go and check on your favorite sections of river, especially with these nice days we’ve been having!

The Box Canyon remains a great choice to enjoy a day’s fishing.  The trout are active, the water is low enough to be easily read, and it makes a great full day or a fun short day.  Small nymphs are on the menu here, but a streamer is always worth a toss in the upper third or if the light is off the water down lower.
The Railroad Ranch continues to have decent bug activity and will continue to fish well through the month. The window of fishable hours will begin to tighten as we venture further into October, but for now anglers should take a walk and hope to see pseudos, baetis, and mahogany duns.  A hopper isn’t out of the question if the afternoon is warm enough and the wind begins to blow just so…Weeds are present and are a real force that must be dealt with, try not to let them frustrate you and look for the opportunities they present.  Often, you can get closer to your target if you keep a weed bank between you.

The canyons between the upper and lower river are at their best in scenery at this time of year.  It’s a fun time to run these sections in a raft to enjoy a little solitude and some fun trout fishing.  Streamers and dry/dropper rigs usually do the trick.

The lower river is still providing good days and will continue to do so for at least a few more weeks with pseudos, baetis, and mahogany duns all coming into play during the days.  Though it’s hard to argue with a beautiful Indian summer day down here, inside we’re all hoping for cloudy and scuzzy weather to set in and bring out the bugs in full force.  Wherever you end up this week, enjoy these great days, each one is a bonus gift at this point in the year.  Be prepared for cooler temps as the mornings have been frigid and it won’t take much to swing the daytime temps into the low 30s!   

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Firehole River

The last round of scuzzy weather to roll through Big Sky Country produced some fun fishing on the Firehole with good afternoon emergences of fall Baetis mayflies. A stellar stretch of Indian Summer conditions are forecasted for the next week. So, you can expect to see fewer bugs, and a shorter window of rising fish activity, but there should still be sparse hatches and some good dry fly targets available. As always, when the dry fly fishing is in hiatus, there may be no better river in the world to swing soft hackles than the Firehole. Chop off the dry fly you were hoping to cast to rising fish and secure a #14 Partridge and Green, Partridge and Orange, or Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle. Work downstream through the same riffles and runs where you were hunting for hatches. Casting down and across at a forty five degree angle, allow the current to create a belly in you line and swing your fly through likely spots. Hang on and enjoy!

Yellowstone River – in YNP

Indian Summer in October is a great time to squeeze in a few more backcountry days on the lower reaches of the Black Canyon. Bright blue, sunny afternoons will warm the last of this year’s hoppers into action, and present the last hopportunities of the season.
This lower section of the Yellowstone can get especially sporty in October as brown trout from lower in the river sniff their way up into the park waters.

Indian, Panther, and Obsidian Creeks

Brown trout aren’t the only fish that put on a show in the fall. Brook Trout are also late-fall spawners, and are in full preparation mode these days with their best colors on display.
These three small streams in the northwest corner of the park are idyllic little brook trout fisheries, and a ton of fun to fish at anytime of the season, but especially during these Indian Summer days.
Be sure to bring a selection of attractor dry flies, some small streamers, and your bear spray.

Madison River – in YNP

For weeks now we’ve been talking about the migratory run of fish in the Madison River with phases like“…it’s not quite time yet”, “…there’s a few fish in there, but not as many as there will be…”, “It’s worth a shot, but…”
Well…It’s officially time, there are a bunch of fish in the system, and you should definitely give it a shot!
Keep in mind that an Indian Summer forecast with bright blue skies will limit the best of the action to the early morning and late evening hours when light levels are at their lowest, and fish are feeling especially frisky.

Gallatin River – by Steve Hoovler

It’s hard to pick a more scenic time to be fishing the Gallatin Canyon than these Indian summer days that we are having. Fall colors from Aspens, Cottonwoods, and willows are all in full display. The river is at a perfect level with emerald green weed mats pulsing at the bottom of crystal clear runs and pools. And, fish are eager to feed on nymphs and sparse hatches of Baetis mayflies.

Madison River – by Steve Hoovler

As October begins we enter a special season in the walk-wade section of the Madison, it’s prime time for the fall Beatis hatch. These diminutive, size 20-22 mayflies can be found on most afternoons from Quake Lake to Lyons bridge for the rest of the month. Scuzzy days will produce the thickest emergences, and the best numbers of rising trout. Sunny days will yield sparser hatches, but the fish will still be looking for them, and although they are exceptionally subtle, can be found rising.
The keys to fishing this hatch are patience, a thorough examination of every soft piece of water near the bank, and deft dry fly skills. These trophy fish have seen it all by this point in the season, and are in no mood for sloppy presentations, and clutsy wading.
If you were going to channel a spirit animal it would be a stealthy Blue Heron, preferably one that can drop a #22 Flag Dun with a Pile Reach Cast on a dinner plate at 30 feet.

Henry’s & Hebgen Lakesby Matt Klara

The lake fishing is in prime shape if you are willing to skip out on the river action and time your fishing to coincide with key weather and feeding windows. Aquatic vegetation is dieing 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. Really start to 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. As water temps really start to cool down, be prepared to slow your presentations as well!

River Flows and the Weather Forecast

Below are links to the flows in Montana and Idaho as well as. This time of the year flows and the weather are changing daily, if not by the hour. Click the links below for the most up to date information.
Montana River Flows
Idaho River Flows
West Yellowstone Weather Forecast

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report, 9/24/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report, 9/24/2020

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Hello there from West Yellowstone – the Trout Capital of the World! 

Fall is definitely in the air here at 6666 ft of elevation. Both the aspens and the brown trout are shades of green, gold, red and orange. While we are still seeing warmer afternoon temps, the mornings are crisp, cold and waders are to be worn everyday now. I recently got a pair of the new Simms G4 Zip waders and its so nice using those now that Fall has truly arrived. Not having to remove my layers and rain jacket to take care of business is so darn convenient! This weekend looks to have some cooler air coming our way and clouds to boot; more fishy weather is on it’s way. 
The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 8:30pm, seven days a week. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho and the Madison in Montana are having some banner days. The east side of YNP is in shape(watch out for rain storms) and the West side has now cooled off; it’s time to fish the Firehole and the Madison. The fly shop is a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer and masks if you don’t have one, we are still under Governor’s mandate to wear them when 6′ of social distance isn’t possible indoors; the staff will continue wearing masks for the unforeseen future. Our fishing report is written on the whiteboard right outside the door for your enjoyment, but as always, the freshest report is inside the doors of the fly shop. Stop on by, say hello and we’ll get you taken care of. 

Take care and read on, 
~ Joe

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Flows
@ Island Park Dam  388 cfs, but the gauge is reading 200 cfs low, so this won’t match with what your app or the website says!
@ Ashton Dam  1040 cfs
As we approach the final week of September, the Henry’s Fork really begins to settle into a steady fall groove; baetis hatches will be consistent on the upper and lower river along with mahogany duns scattered throughout the system.  If one wanted to only fish one river while fishing this week, it could be spent on any one of a number of very diverse sections of the Henry’s Fork.
The Box Canyon has been fishing well since the water has cleared from the weather event of the second week of September.  It’s not gin clear in there, but that’s normal for this time of year and it’s been very fishable.  Flows are just low enough to put a few basalt pinstripes on the hull of your favorite piece of fiberglass, but still easy enough to navigate.  Red and brown zebra midges, perdigons, pheasant tail nymphs, juju baetis, copper zonkers, BFEs and bouface leeches are all on the menu in here.
The Railroad Ranch, though low and weedy, has been fishing well with mahogany duns and baetis.  This is a great time of year for those uninitiated to fishing the waters of Harriman State Park to give it a try, characterized by plenty of targets, many of them small but some large ones in there.  It’s a great time to try and identify large trout riseforms from small trout riseforms.  It’s a tricky discernment at times, but usually you’ll have plenty of trout to play with for at least a period of the day.
The canyon country remains solid as ever, the weeds less of an issue where the water is churning, as they break up in the fast water.  Streamers and dry/dropper rigs reign supreme in these sections, try heavy streamers on floating lines and dropping heavy bead headed stonefly nymphs or perdigons off a chubby Chernobyl or grasshopper pattern.
The section from Warm River to Ashton has been providing us with some fun fishing lately, with a few big trout being taken by our boats each day in addition to great action on smaller and medium-sized fish.  This section is not to be overlooked, and at this time of year as brown trout are moving around in our systems, it’s worth noting that the Idaho State Record Brown was taken from Ashton Reservoir, located just downstream of this section…
The waters below Ashton Reservoir have been fishing pretty well, but not quite their usual selves for the time of year.  Look for cooler temps and days with clouds to increase your opportunities down here, these days have not been in abundance lately, but a glance at the coming week looks promising…    

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Not much has changed this week in the Park. Last week’s quick weather event brought some much needed rain, and the fishing benefited from it. We’re hopeful for more of the same this week with a slight chance for rain and cooler temps this weekend. 
It’s a wild time in Yellowstone’s high country. Elk are bugling (some are falling prey to Grizzlies), wolves are howling, and Bison are finishing their rutting season. The air is crisp and the aspens are turning gold. It’s a great time to be fishing in the park. 

Firehole River

Water temps on the Firehole are still looking good especially in the upper reaches, and during the morning and early afternoon hours. The best fishing on bright days has come from swinging soft hackles during the cool mornings and prospecting with hoppers once things warm a bit, usually by midday. 
Another shot of cooler, wetter weather is heading our way for the weekend which bodes well for fall hatches of Baetis mayflies on the Firehole. Saturday looks like the best bet to see a concentrated emergence. Daytime high temps are forecasted to be in the low 50’s. So, expect to see some bugs hatching by 1:00 or 2:00pm. 
Keep in mind the Firehole is an exceptional place to get your ass handed to you by 10-12” fish in the fall. Be sure to bring your A-game, complete with a stealthy approach, long fine leaders (12’ 6X), well executed dry fly presentations, and a full lineup of techy dry flies and emergers. 
Swing by the shop for our best recommendations on any and all of the aforementioned variables. 

Madison River – in YNP

Slowly but surely, good numbers of fish are beginning to arrive in the deepest runs and pools along this iconic fall fishery. Migratory browns and rainbows continue to sniff their way upstream in preparation for the upcoming spawning season. 
These trophy browns and rainbows migrate annually from the deep, dark haunts of Hebgen Lake up into the relatively shallow and exposed waters of the Madison River in YNP. As such, it’s understandable that they lay low in only the deepest runs and pools, and limit their movements and activity to times with low light levels when the threats from predators is reduced. 
On bright days you can expect to find the best activity with streamers in the early morning, and late evening hours when light levels are at their lowest. On scuzzy days (keep your fingers crossed for as many as possible for the remainder of the fall season) fish will remain active throughout the day. 

Gallatin River – in YNP

Cool weather has put an end to consistent hoper fishing on the Gallatin River, but fall hatches of Baetis mayflies and consistent nymph fishing make this favorite well worth a visit in the afternoons. 

Lewis Lake – Shoshone Lake Channel 

Brown trout are migrating throughout the park, and one of the more unique runs of fish occurs in the channel between Lewis and Shoshone Lakes. This backcountry fishery begins to fill with fish every September and offers some fun fishing With streamers and soft hackles for migratory browns. 
A flat 4-7 mile hike is required to reach the channel, and, as with any backcountry fishery, you will want to be prepared with bear spray and sound wilderness travel principals. 
It is also important to note that the channel is an important spawning area for fish from both lakes. As the season progresses, and fish get closer to spawning you will want to limit your wading, or consider avoiding the channel all together. 

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The Madison is sitting at 943 cfs out of Hebgen; that’s a small bump from a week ago. It will be interesting to see if the Madison increases to the seasonal average of 1100 here soon; I for one, hope so. Hoppers are still on the menu after 2pm, but the window is decreasing every day. More than ever, the hopper is just a bobber for dropping off tungsten bead heads. This weekend looks to be on the cloudy side of things, have those BWO’s ready to go. On the cloudy days, we have been dead drifting streamers, rubber legs, various dips, red SJWs and smaller mayfly nymphs. There are still decent numbers of caddis around as well, but we tend to focus on the larva stage of this fly and fish the riffles. The caddis patterns we like are: #14 and #16 shop vac and guide dips are our go to flies. The Cheeky Fella from Cat3 flies is another solid pattern for us. Ants are still a player on the dry fly front on the warmer sun-filled afternoons. Streamer fishing is a great option on the chilly mornings, but the fish seem a little shy and unwilling to grab them on a regular basis. That will change here soon enough with more clouds in the forecast. Feel free to stop by the shop for the most up to date fishing report on the Madison – it changes by the minute down there! 

For those anglers on foot in the Wade Stretch, the key will be to cover water and not spend too much time in one particular place. We find the nymphing in the wade stretch to be pretty good right now with caddis and midge patterns; especially in the shallow riffle runs. A small black rubber legs is always a good choice as well. As for rising fish, the morning bite is not that great, but those fish are still looking for ants and sometimes hoppers in the afternoon. For those willing to risk it all and wade out into the big river, go for it! Some of those big slicks and boulder runs don’t get fished all that much. The Madison’s mood seems to change throughout the entire river, if one stretch isn’t fishing well then another probably is. Keep moving and slow down your pace when the fish are biting, speed up when they aren’t. 

River Flows and the Weather Forecast

Below are links to the flows in Montana and Idaho as well as. This time of the year flows and the weather are changing daily, if not by the hour. Click the links below for the most up to date information. 
Montana River Flows
Idaho River Flows
West Yellowstone Weather Forecast

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report, 9/17/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report, 9/17/2020

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Hello there from West Yellowstone – the Trout Capital of the World! 

That cold weather last week made for some difficult fishing around our neck of the woods to some extent. The Madison in MT took a solid shot in the arm, but the Henry’s Fork, Firehole and Madison in YNP woke up a little bit. Those 17 degree morning temps definitely made fish begin to change their feeding patterns, that’s for sure. The smoke has made it’s way back to southwest Montana again; things are dry as dirt around these parts so please do your part and put those campfires out! As much as we all enjoy watching fames dart around while sipping on a cold beverage, it would be best to not even dare light a campfire during the next few weeks. Our hearts go out to all the folks on the West Coast dealing with an epic fire season; they need rain in a big way. 
The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 8:30pm, seven days a week. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho and the Madison in Montana are having some banner days. The east side of YNP is in shape(watch out for rain storms) and the West side has now cooled off; it’s time to fish the Firehole and the Madison. The fly shop is a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer and masks if you don’t have one, we are still under Governor’s mandate to wear them when 6′ of social distance isn’t possible indoors; the staff will continue wearing masks for the unforeseen future. Our fishing report is written on the whiteboard right outside the door for your enjoyment, but as always, the freshest report is inside the doors of the fly shop. Stop on by, say hello and we’ll get you taken care of. 

Take care and read on, 
~ Joe

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Though Fall on the Fork is one of the more desirable times to be there, at the moment, the Henry’s Fork is experiencing a few issues that anglers will want to pay attention to.  Currently, the river at the top of the Box Canyon is experiencing a turbidity issue that has to do with a recent and quick turn over of the Island Park Reservoir combined with shoreline erosion from the last blast of north wind last week.  The river is coming out of the dam fairly dirty at the moment, and is a shocking sight if one is not prepared.  The good news is that it is clearing slowly and the turbidity is caused by vegetative matter, not dirt, so the material settles out over distance, leaving a number of good fishing options still available.  Flows are dropping quickly out of Island Park Reservoir, the river is a changing environment, so stay tuned.  
The Box Canyon has not been fishing like its usual self this week, but hope is on the horizon, it doesn’t take much visibility for things to turn around in there, especially when the flows are low.  Be ready with rubberlegs, leeches, streamers, and the usual suspects like zebra midges, mayfly nymphs, and caddis pupa patterns.
The Railroad Ranch has also been affected by the dirty water, but is still providing some opportunity for anglers that are looking for it.  Baetis, pseudos, caddis, and mahogany duns should be your focus, but be prepared for the odd callibaetis, pmd, flying ant and hoppertunity.  When times are tough, find the springs and focus your efforts on the consistent and stable conditions found there.
The canyon country below Riverside campground is fishing well and turbidity isn’t much of an issue from this point downstream.  Great dry/dropper fishing can be found down here on most days and for those willing to throw a streamer around, this is a great time of year.  BFE’s and copper zonkers are at the top of our list.
The river below Ashton Reservoir has been fishing fairly well, again the turbidity isn’t too concerning down here.  The weeds haven’t been bad lately, but as the river drops be prepared for a change in this situation.  We’ve been having some pretty decent hopper/dropper fishing down there and some fun streamer moments.  Weather conditions have been variable and anglers need to be ready to change with them, the onset of scuzzy weather will really liven things up down there.

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Firehole River

Water temps on the Firehole are looking good especially in the upper reaches, and during the morning and early afternoon hours. The best fishing on bright days has come from swinging soft hackles during the cool mornings and prospecting with hoppers once things warm a bit, usually by midday. 
A shot of cooler, wetter weather is heading our way for the weekend which bodes well for fall hatches of Baetis mayflies on the Firehole. Saturday looks like the best bet to see a concentrated emergence. Daytime high temps are forecasted to be in the low 50’s. So, expect to see some bugs hatching by 1:00 or 2:00pm. 
Keep in mind the Firehole is an exceptional place to get your ass handed to you by 10-12” fish in the fall. Be sure to bring your A-game, complete with a stealthy approach, long fine leaders (12’ 6X), well executed dry fly presentations, and a full lineup of techy dry flies and emergers. 
Swing by the shop for our best recommendations on any and all of the above. 

Madison River – in YNP

Fish by fish, day by day, the Madison in the park is looking more and more like a world class spawning tributary as browns and rainbows from Hebgen Lake begin to sniff their way upstream in preparation for the upcoming spawning season. Each day will have more fish in the river than the last, and this weekend’s scuzzy weather will provide the perfect conditions to head in and see for yourself just how the early run of fish is doing. Don’t expect to see a ton of fish just yet, but the ones that are in there should be active. 

Gallatin River – in YNP

We’ve seen some downright cold mornings around Big Sky Country in the last week, and the upper Gallatin is routinely the coldest spot in the area. However, fish have been active once temps warm a bit, and afternoon hopper fishing has been a blast here. When fish aren’t on the hoppers, there’s been a consistent nymph bite with small Baetis and Caddis imitations. Look for good hatches of baetis mayflies here as well on any scuzzy afternoons. 

Gardner River

The Madison in the Park is far from the only spawning tributary in the area that gets a run of brown trout. The Gardner river sees a few nice browns every year that move up from the Yellowstone to spawn later in the fall, and this is a fun time to chase one of those early runners with hoppers on warm, sunny afternoons. If you happen to hit it on a scuzzy day, then you’d be better served to dig out the streamer box and throw some meat. 

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The Madison is sitting at 890 cfs out of Hebgen; flat lined is always a good place to be. Hoppers are still on the menu after 2pm, but we are getting closer to the end of their reign. This weekend looks to be on the cloudy side of things, have those BWO’s ready to go. On the cloudy days, we have been dead drifting streamers, rubber legs, various dips, red SJWs and smaller mayfly nymphs. There are still decent caddis around as well, and if you can float a #16 Caddis dry fly and get it in all the right spots, you will raise a few fish, that’s for sure. Those caddis patterns are better left to the nymphing game; #14 and #16 shop vac and guide dips are our go to flies. Ants are still a solid player right now as well. Streamer fishing is a great option on the chilly mornings, but the fish seem a little shy and unwilling to grab them on a regular basis. That will change here soon enough. Feel free to stop by the shop for the most up to date fishing report on the Madison – it changes by the minute down there! 
NOTE: this next part of the report will not change for the next four to five weeks and is super important to one’s success – Overall, the Madison is fishing well enough throughout the day, but she can be a bit moody at times. There will be sections that are slower than others and parts of the day that fish better. Various lulls throughout the day are to be expected, so pay attention to the bite and keep fishing. 
For those anglers on foot in the Wade Stretch, the key will be to cover water and not spend too much time in one particular place. We find the nymphing in the wade stretch to be pretty good right now with caddis and midge patterns. As for rising fish, the morning bite is not that great, but those fish are still looking for ants and sometimes hoppers in the afternoon. For those willing to risk it all and wade out into the big river, you will find fish willing to rise in the afternoons out amongst the big boulders and slicks. Be careful out there! The Madison’s mood seems to change throughout the entire river, if one stretch isn’t fishing well then another probably is. Keep moving and slow down your pace when the fish are biting, speed up when they aren’t. 

River Flows and the Weather Forecast

Below are links to the flows in Montana and Idaho as well as. This time of the year flows and the weather are changing daily, if not by the hour. Click the links below for the most up to date information. 
Montana River Flows
Idaho River Flows
West Yellowstone Weather Forecast

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report, 9/10/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report, 9/10/2020


Hello there from West Yellowstone – the Trout Capital of the World! 

We saw more snow and cold overcast days this past week and things now have a chill in the air every morning. The sun poked out in the afternoon on most days, except Monday; when old Man Winter showed up for several hours! There is a fresh layer of the white stuff up high and we seem to be wadering up most days only to strip down to sandals in the boat at some point in the afternoon. Right now, Mother Nature cant quite figure out if it’s Summer or Fall. Our fishing lives are now, more than ever, defined by the weather and the air temperatures throughout the day. If you’re planing a trip here this Fall, now is the time to bring the layers, warm hats and warm gloves. The shop is fully stocked up so feel free to forget all that gear at home and get some new stuff!
The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho and the Madison in Montana are having some banner days. The east side of YNP is in shape(watch out for rain storms) and the West side has now cooled off; it’s time to fish the Firehole and the Madison. The fly shop is a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer and masks if you don’t have one, we are still under Governor’s mandate to wear them when 6′ of social distance isn’t possible indoors; the staff will continue wearing masks for the unforeseen future. Our fishing report is written on the whiteboard right outside the door for your enjoyment, but as always, the freshest report is inside the doors of the fly shop. Stop on by, say hello and we’ll get you taken care of. 

Take care and read on, 
~ Joe

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

While the month of September can be a bit fickle and full of transitions, the Fork generally likes this month. Just how you play it down there will depend greatly on what the weather is doing, but generally, the cold nights are enough to spark the fire in the parts of the fishery that have been lying semi-dormant for the past months. September is a month that you can enjoy flyfishing most of the sections of the Henry’s Fork, there is game, one way or the other. 
The upper river is as solid as ever, the Box Canyon comes into a stride that will last until the end of October; the fish are well fed, the weed beds have maximized their production and the maturation of the insect life is at its fullest. The river will slowly and steadily continue to drop and put less water between you and the fish from now until the end of the season. Streamers and nymphs both play well depending on angling preferences, one thing is for sure. The Box is a good bet for a great day’s trout fishing from now until the end of the season.
The Ranch is coming into one of the great times of year for what it is famous for: sight fishing to rising trout. For those uninitiated into the ways of the Railroad Ranch, this is one of the most iconic places the planet to target trout feeding in shallow water. Fall on the Fork is characterized by lots of targets, this is a great time of year to hone the craft of casting to rising trout. Newcomers to the Ranch will find lots of targets on most days, but those looking to target larger fish will have to take a step back and put a careful eye on the scene to find their quarry. Baetis, Pseudocloeons, flying ants, mahogany duns, and pmds are all still on the menu. Be ready to handle any stage of any one of these to have success here. Of course, there are terrestrials present as well when the sun is shining and desperation calls. 
The lower river is again active, and though it’s not as productive as it can be in June, it is definitely worth a day or two of fishing. Weather will play an active roll here in how the game is played, but generally more summery weather will lend itself to hoppers and droppers, the more autumnal days will play better with baetis, mahogany duns and some streamer fishing.
Fall on the Fork is something to enjoy and target, the coming weeks have some terrific angling opportunities!

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Last week felt like late-summer with a suggestion of fall, this week is undoubtedly early-autumn in the Yellowstone high country. Mornings are no longer “crisp”, they’re cold, there are many more yellow aspen leaves than green ones, and the angle of the sun produces an amber light that makes you want to tilt your head back and soak it all up. 
The forecast calls for a long stretch of “Indian Summer” with morning lows in the upper 20’s-30’s and afternoon highs in the 60’s. Bright sun will dominate this week making for some of the most picturesque days of the season. 

Firehole River

After a long, hot summer break it’s time to start thinking about the world’s strangest trout stream again. Water temperatures have dropped back into the 60’s, and with nights getting longer and the mornings getting frostier, they should continue to fall. The coldest water is always found furthest upstream, in places like Biscuit Basin and Mallard Creek, as they are above the biggest geyser effluents. That will definitely be the case this week when daytime highs are forecasted to get back around 70 degrees.
This is a great time to prospect with a small grasshopper, or swing small soft hackles. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for Baetis mayflies and White Miller caddis. 

Northeast Corner – Slough Cr, Lamar River, Soda Butte Cr

Mornings are cold up in this corner of the park, so there’s no rush to be on the water before late morning. Hoppers and ants should be at the top of the batting order, but keep a keen eye out for Drake, Heptagenia and Baetis mayflies. 

Gallatin River – in YNP

Hopper fishing will be good in this stretch of the Gallatin on warm afternoons. Be prepared to cover a lot of water with your best possible drifts. These fish see far more than their fair share of flies by this point in the season, and are in no mood for a hopper that appears to have an evinrude behind it. Sporadic Baetis mayflies will also be present during the afternoons. It’s a great time to watch carefully for sporadic bank feeders in super-sneaky spots. 

Yellowstone River

As we inch closer to fall, and the inevitable end of the season, fewer and fewer fish remain in the Caldera section of the Yellowstone River below Yellowstone Lake. Naturally, these fish return to the Lake each year to overwinter and prepare for another spring spawning run into the river, and subsequent summer of snacking on hatches. Summer hatches are also waning these days, making this a tougher and tougher fishery from here on out. Some excellent fish still remain in the river, and that will be the case until the season ends, but they will require some extra effort and hunting to find. When you do find a good target you can expect to get their attention with hoppers, ants, and fall hatches of Beatis and Margarita Dun mayflies. As always, sight fishing is paramount here. Fish are spread far and wide making blind fishing a fool’s errand most days. 

Madison River – in YNP

We’re getting closer, week by week and day by day. Water temps are on the fall, and fish are slowly starting to sniff their way upstream. Afternoon water temps are still too warm, especially with hot weather like we have forecasted through the upcoming weekend, but it’s always worth a stop in the mornings and evenings for a quick session to see what’s up. 

Hebgen Lake – by Jonathan Heames

This is likely the final week that Hebgen will put on the final showing of prime gulper fishing opportunities. If the weather stays warm and sunny, however, it could continue into next week…
Plan on a late start for callibaetis hatches, they’re not likely to get going until the air temps get above 60 degrees, which will begin to happen later and later in the day. Wind usually is prohibitive by 1 or 2 o’clock, so keep an eye on the forecast for those days when the wind stays below 10 mph until at least 1 o’clock to have good lake days.
If your planning goes awry, be sure to have along some olive, brown, and black leeches to strip around the Madison Arm, Duck Creek Arm, South Fork Arm and anywhere else you’ve been finding brown trout gulping on the nicer days. Browns are getting cantankerous these days, even in the stillwaters, so be ready to look for them by being ready to strip if they’re not rising. 
Damsel fly activity is worth keeping an eye out for, these late season days when the bug hatches are slim can present plenty of opportunities with the members of the Odonata family. 

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The Madison is sitting at 890 cfs out of Hebgen; just a slight increase from last week. Hoppers are still on the menu but we are getting closer to the end of their reign. We experienced some BWO hatches last week on the overcast days, so be on the lookout for those little guys from here on out. On the cloudy days, we have been dead drifting streamers, rubber legs, various dips, red SJWs and smaller mayfly nymphs. There are a few caddis around as well, and if you can float a #16 Caddis dry fly and get it in all the right spots, you will raise a few fish, that’s for sure. Ants are still a solid player right now and they have made two appearances so far in the past week. Streamer fishing is a great option on the chilly mornings as well. This past week brought more snow and rain; Fall has definitely arrived as we saw 18 degrees just a couple days ago. Feel free to stop by the shop for the most up to date fishing report on the Madison – it changes by the minute down there! 
NOTE: this next part of the report will not change for the next four to five weeks and is super important to one’s success – Overall, the Madison is fishing well throughout the day, but she can be a bit moody at times. There will be sections that are slower than others and parts of the day that fish better. Various lulls throughout the day are to be expected, so pay attention to the bite and keep fishing. The warmer day time air temps and bright sun have these fish a little gun shy, but there is still plenty of game out there to be had.
For those anglers on foot in the Wade Stretch, the key will be to cover water and not spend too much time in one particular place. For those willing to risk it all and wade out into the big river, you will find fish willing to rise out amongst the big boulders and slicks. Be careful! This is best done when wet wading and if you go down, remember to face downstream and get those legs out in front of you. The Madison’s mood seems to change throughout the entire river, if one stretch isn’t fishing well then another probably is. Keep moving and slow down your pace when the fish are biting, speed up when they aren’t. 

River Flows and the Weather Forecast

Below are links to the flows in Montana and Idaho as well as. This time of the year flows and the weather are changing daily, if not by the hour. Click the links below for the most up to date information. 
Montana River Flows
Idaho River Flows
West Yellowstone Weather Forecast