Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/29/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/29/2020

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Hello from West Yellowstone, MT – the Trout Capital of the World!

The fishing season in Yellowstone Park ends this Sunday, and weather is looking good, so get it while you can! This historically marks the end of our own busy season, and as such this will be our last weekly report for the year. We plan to chime in throughout the winter as we work on new instructional content, and get out fishing here and there as weather permits. Thanks to everyone who has followed along with us, and given us the feedback that we need to make our fishing reports and newsletters more useful for everyone. Thanks also to everyone who visited us during this crazy summer, and for helping us to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Some of the guys have been getting out of town lately for a little break after a great summer. Joe went bird hunting, a type of therapy that come to him in no ther way. Justin, Chris, and Marco headed a bit farther west in search of steelhead this week, and knowing how steelheading is, that can either be therapy, or force you to seek out some therapy after the trip! Whether you are into fishing or hunting, or the start of skiing, or another outdoor activity this time of year, get out there and enjoy it!

Remember, folks, this is the time of year where some of those big brown trout that we all love are already spawning. Brookies as well. Please, if you choose to fish waters with those species in them, be extra aware of your surroundings. Absolutely DO NOT target trout that are on or near redds. No hero shot is worth threatening the reproductive success of a wild trout. If you see fish doing their thing, just stay back so as not to disturb them, and enjoy one of natures great spectacles that few folks get to experience. And, when you are wading, keep an eye peeled for that clean gravel as accidentally stomping on trout eggs is every bit as bad as fishing for actively spawning fish.

Big Sky Anglers is OPEN from 8:00am to 6:00pm through this Sunday. After that we plan to close up for inventory for a bit, but if you need anythign, be sure to give us a call and we can organize for a curbisde pickup for you. We will pick up with winter hours after that, so stay tuned for that. Our fly shop remains 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 future. 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,
~ The BSA Crew

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Island Park Dam:  176 cfs Ashton Dam:  900 cfs

As we approach the end of the Yellowstone National Park fishing season, keep in mind that there are always options here in Yellowstone country for a day’s fishing, and the Henry’s Fork is no exception. There is fishable water throughout the system, the main closure being Harriman State Park, the Raillroad Ranch, which remains open through November 30th. It is closed from December 1st through June 14th.

The Box canyon will remain a good bet anytime the mercury doesn’t drop so far that you wouldn’t want to be in a boat, anyway. Small zebra midges and mayfly nymphs, dead-drifted streamers, swung leeches, and rubber legs will all produce results over the coming months. Eventually, snow will drift in and we won’t be able to launch a boat down there anymore, limiting access to wade anglers.

The Railroad Ranch is still producing daily baetis (BWO) hatches, these will be stronger and last longer if you have cloudy days, but they’ll still come off on a sunny one for now. The larger trout usually will respond better when there are clouds around, but any day worth walking is a day worth fishing right now.

The coming months are a good time to limit your endeavors in the canyon country downstream of Riverside on to the confluence of Warm River to wade fishing and the nicest of days. From Warm River on down to Saint Anthony, good fishing will be found through the fall and throughout the winter months. Again, cloudy days will provide the best opportunities for dry fly fishing, but it’s hard to argue with a sunny day in the coming weeks for the pleasure of being outside in it!

If you are heading to the Fork anytime this winter, be sure to give us a call at the shop, we’ll continue to fish down there throughout the year and will usually have a solid report for ya!

Yellowstone National Park – by Matt Klara

Sunday, November 1st is the last day of the fishing season in Yellowstone for 2020. We had some frigid weather last weekend, we are seeing the fisheries more seriously affected by low water temperatures. The NE corner of the park is officially off our radar until next summer.

Our focus during these final days of the season will be on the waters in the western region of Yellowstone: the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers. All three of these iconic watershed benefit from an influx of warm, geothermal water providing good opportunities.

With overnight lows expected to be in the teens, with afternoon highs in the mid 40s through the weekend, there should be some great chances to get out for one last flick in YNP.
Look for hatches of Fall Baetis on the Firehole in the afternoons. Keep in mind the Firehole has a great many micro-habitats because of the varied influences from geothermal sources. If the bugs aren’t rolling at Fountain Flat, that doesn’t mean the same is true below Midway Basin.

The Madison River in YNP remains a good bet for lake run fish. Good numbers of fish are now available throughout the system. Browns will be a mix of new entries to the system as well as those that are settled, staging, and/or actively spawning. Keep an eye peeled and leave those fish alone. Remember, fall run rainbows eat flies well and run hard like a mini steelhead.

Madison River – by Jonathan Heames

The Madison River in Montana will continue to provide decent days in the coming week and month, efforts are best focused in the wade sections, both from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge and from Ennis to Ennis Lake.

In the upper wade stretches, decent nymph fishing will be found starting late morning, with a daily baetis hatch occurring some time during the middle of the day. The biggest factor to watch out here is the wind, if it’s blowing hard in the valley, the days can be a struggle, if not, it’s usually a pretty nice place to be and the scenery is first class! As winter looms closer, baetis will give way to midges, prompting smaller nymphs like zebra midges and fuzzier dry flies, like Joe Moore’s Comparabuzz.

Below Ennis there is some streamer fishing to be found in some of the runs as brown are moving up the system from Ennis Lake. There are some runs worth swinging over these next couple of weeks, after which angling efforts will be better focused further upriver.

The Lakes – by Matt Klara

That blast of super cold weather shut us lake fans down for a few days at least. Many of the smaller and shallower bodies of water froze over last weekend, including parts of Henry’s Lake. While the ice anglers begin licking their chops, flyrodders have fingers crossed that the warm afternoons that are here this week will extend the stillwater season just a bit longer. As usual, late fall cold water fishing may require a low and slow approach, either on sinking lines or with balanced leeches under an indicator. Get it while you can, because hard water season is coming fast!

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 – 10/22/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/22/2020

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Hello from West Yellowstone, MT – the Trout Capital of the World!

The big news on the horizon is the cold weather heading our way here in West Yellowstone, temperatures are predicted to dip below zero for a night or two, so bring all of your layers, hand warmers, hats and the like! If you forget anything, we have some great new logo beanies here at the shop that will complement any angler’s current selection! We still have a couple weeks left for fishing in Yellowstone National Park; the last day for wetting a line in there is November 1, 2020. Get after it while you can!

Remember, folks, this is the time of year where some of those big brown trout that we all love are already spawning. Brookies as well. Please, if you choose to fish waters with those species in them, be extra aware of your surroundings. Absolutely DO NOT target trout that are on or near redds. No hero shot is worth threatning the reproductive success of a wild trout. If you see fish doing their thing, just stay back so as not to disturb them, and enjoy one of natures great spectacles that few folks get to experience. And, when you are wading, keep an eye peeled for that clean gravel as accidentially stomping on trout eggs is every bit as bad as fishing for actively spawning fish.

The fly shop is OPEN from 7:30am to 6:00pm, 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,
~ The BSA Crew

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Island Park Dam:  gauge is reading 129 but the actual outflow is around 239 cfs

Ashton Dam:  779 cfs

The Henry’s Fork remains a solid option most of these fall days, whether you wish to throw nymphs, streamers or dry flies, there is somewhere quality to spend your time plying the waters. Especially as temperatures threaten to plummet this weekend, heading towards more stable temperatures is a good bet. The Fork has a number of dams and diversions throughout its system that all contribute to less fluctuation in water temperatures.

The Box Canyon is still a great place to spend a day in the boat or wade fishing for those wishing to throw nymphs and streamers. It’s low, relatively easy to read, and active through the middle hours of the day. Fly selection will favor small nymphs: perdigons, zebra midges, and small mayfly nymphs are all part of the daily selection.

The Railroad Ranch continues to sport good hatches of baetis, with lots of trout rising in the river through the hatch hours midday. Many of these trout are small, a keen eye is required to find those larger trout. Often these sly, big trout position themselves in the middle of a pod of smaller fish, which can make things difficult! Try oversizing your fly selection to help filter the smaller fish from taking your first drift. Trying a less pattern imitating a less frequently found insect like a mahogany or caddis is also a good technique to try.

The lower river continues to provide good sport from Warm River on down to St Anthony and beyond. The river is low and weedy, so looking for slots in the weed beds and buckets in the river bottom is a good approach. Typically we are starting the day with streamers, nymphs or dry/dropper rigs, then moving to targeted dry flies in the afternoon hours when rising fish are encountered.

Yellowstone National Park

We are now approaching the final weeks of the 2020 YNP fishing season, and with frigid weather forecasted for this weekend, we will see the fisheries more seriously affected by low water temperatures. Expect things to slow down in the Northeast and East portions of the Park.

Our focus during these final weeks will be on the waters in the western region of Yellowstone: the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers. All three of these iconic watershed will benefit from an influx of warm, geothermal water providing good opportunities in spite of plummeting air temps.

With overnight lows expected to dip well below zero in the coming week, you can expect, now more than ever, to see the best activity in the afternoons and evening hours when temps are a their highest.

Hatches of Fall Baetis on the Firehole will most certainly be delayed on the frigid days, and may not emerge until the very late afternoon. This is an important time to stay mobile when hunting hatches on the Firehole. Keep in mind the Firehole has a great many micro-habitats because of the varied influences from geothermal sources. If the bugs aren’t rolling at Fountain Flat, that doesn’t mean the same is true below Midway Basin.

The Madison River in YNP will surely fish well in the coming week if you can handle the conditions. Good numbers of fish are now available throughout the system, and both weather conditions and thousands of years of evolution driving an innate passion to procreate will have them especially tuned up.

Madison River

There’s no way to sugar coat this. It’s going to be pretty pokey on the Madison in the valley for a few days this week.

If daytime high temps get above freezing, nymph and streamer fishing can still be productive in the walk wade waters around Three Dollar Bridge, and you just might see a few baetis mayflies and rising trout in the afternoons.

If daytime high temps are in the teens and twenties, you’d be best served to pick another sporting endeavor to pass you time.

The Lakes – By Matt Klara

It’s that time of year again where I feel really silly about even doing a lake fishing report. Noone ever bothers to read it. They are all out hucking meat or swinging flies on the rivers, as if every fish in every lake has left the lakes and run upstream. Oh well. If you get bored on the moving water, you might have a shot at one of the hawggiest rainbows or cuttys of the year in stillwater. When the feeding windows open up (they are getting shorter in the colder water temps), fishing can be incredible. Stripping buggers and baitfish in shallow water on low light conditions and on dark days is a great place to start. As things brighten, work deeper, but probably stay with some of the bigger snacks like buggers, balanced leeches, or attractor patterns. Adjust your presentation and retrieve speed according to water temps and the whims of the trout. I usually start fast, and then get progressively slower in fall. When you hit one of those days when the big guys want it moving fast, make sure to up size that tippet, or you’ll be headed back to Big Sky Anglers to refill your fly boxes and to tell us a story about the big one that snapped you off!

Missouri River – Jonathan Heames

The Missouri River in Montana has had an unusual fall so far but not without some great trout fishing. Over the past weeks we have had some terrific streamer fishing and nymph fishing and had really been missing the dry fly fishing until just recently.

With last weekend’s onset of cold weather, coupled with this weekend’s forecasted low temperatures, you should continue to see increasing numbers of pseudos and baetis. For those traveling north or escaping the extreme cold of West Yellowstone predicted this weekend, the Missouri is a solid choice. You’ll find good nymphing options in the upper river, dry fly fishing and streamer fishing throughout the system, from the dam all the way down to Cascade.

Expect the brown trout streamer bite to begin slowing as they get closer and closer to doing their annual fall spawning ritual, but be on the lookout for large and angry rainbows that will eat streamers, dries and nymphs. Enjoy!

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 – 10/15/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/15/2020

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This week brought on the true Fall weather and more is on it’s way this weekend. Wind, cold and snow arrived in fashion on Monday coating the mountains and making everyone in West Yellowstone pretty darn excited about chasing brown and rainbow trout. Cold frosty mornings and coffee at noon has been the norm. Starting this weekend, things are gonna get a little Western. We still have a couple weeks left for fishing in Yellowstone National Park; the last day for wetting a line in there is November 1, 2020. Get after it while you can!

The fly shop is OPEN from 7:30am to 7:30pm, 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,
~ Joe

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Island Park Dam:  gauge is reading 135 but the actual outflow is around 245 cfsAshton Dam:  812 cfs

When the air temperatures in the high country of Yellowstone begin to drop and the water temps begin to drop along with them, rivers like the Henry’s Fork provide a stability not found in other waters. This is due to their spring creek, with consistent water temperatures at their sources. Though the windows of prime opportunity begin to shorten, that opportunity is somewhat consistent. This is a great time of year to develop and nurture a relationship with the Henry’s Fork.

The Box Canyon remains the all star of consistency in the upper river. It is both consistently low in flow and active with hungry trout! The Box makes for a great short float or full day. This is a good time of year to try and target some of its larger inhabitants as well.

The Railroad Ranch is primarily a baetis and pseudo fishery at this point, though midges might make an appearance some days. Bug activity is centered around the nicest hours of the day, from 11-3 or 4. Again, this time of year is characterized by lots of targets, many of them small. There are large trout rising for those willing to take their time to identify them. This is a great time to introduce interested anglers to sight fishing to rising trout as their are lots of targets to practice with.

The canyons below the Ranch are best saved for the nicer days at this point, these remote sections are no place to be stuck in a snowstorm! Keep an eye on the forecast and bring lots of layers, streamers, and nymphs if heading into the canyon country.

The lower river will continue to fish well, look for more dry fly activity to be taking place in the middle hours of the day as the weather turns the corner from cold and sunny to cold and cloudy!

Yellowstone National Park

Daytime temps have now dropped and there is fresh snow in the high country. Waders are now something to not forget, that’s for sure. This weekend looks to have another offering of clouds, snow and generally scuzzy weather. If the forecast holds, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday will usher in the first real storm of the Fall season. 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. The Madison in the Park is a bit of social experiment with quite a few folks fishing all the usual spots. With the weekend’s weather change, venture out and fish water where you don’t see anyone. Swing those shallow riffles or rip a streamer – those migratory fish make their way through the entire system, not just the Barns Pools or Beaver Meadows. More and more fish are moving in each day.

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

Sunday and Monday brought on cloudy and snowy conditions and fishing improved to some extent. The views from $3 Bridge will make anyone excited to fish, no matter what time of the year it is. 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. When the weather moves in this weekend, fishing streamers can be an all day affair. 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. Getting jiggy with a heavy streamer and floating line is never a bad tactic and keep in mind those fish with eat the fly on the drop!

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 – Jonathan Heames

This past weeks on the Mighty Mo have been unusually nice, and we aren’t complaining! When you are in short sleeves in the second week of October just about anywhere in the state of Montana, you are on borrowed time!

Daytime and nighttime temperatures have been balmy until just recently, and as of now it feels as though fall has arrived. Today was the first day I’ve had to don a beanie cap during my stint up here. Each day there are a few more rising trout starting to appear now, but those numbers are still modest when compared to previous years. All the same, we are now putting our 5X tippet to the test and hoping for an increase in rising fish this week.

Hatches of pseudos are short but intense and increasing in regularity despite the weather and thanks to the generally lowering water temperatures. Caddis are present, but have had a more impactful existence in the sub-surface realm than the superficial. We have seen a few larger baetis around but nothing consistently yet. Midges are still around and are beginning to draw rise forms in the early hours, likely due to fish moving into those pseudo-sipping lies.

The streamer bite has been hard but good work, with fair numbers of big, hard-fighting Missouri River rainbows and browns taken by the end of each day. Each one of these fish taken on a streamer is memorable and the electrifying tug of those hot fish slamming your fly is something that leaves you wanting more of it. These Missouri River torpedos are sure fun to strip up! We’ve been throwing our BSA Bouface leech that is oversized from John Barr’s original and designed for stripping big and weedy rivers. It makes for a great leech or minnow imitation, slender, with good action, and efficient in sinking as well as weed-cutting ability. We make them in 3 colors: black, olive, and white. Because they’ve worked so well, we’re sold out now, but we’ll have them back in stock early next spring, be ready to stock up on a great, all-around lake and river streamer.

We are starting to see a couple of redds here on the Missouri, be on the lookout so as not to bother them or step on them. These are our future streamer-eaters so think about investing in their future and avoid them.

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 8/27/20

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 8/27/20

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

Smokey skies are the new norm this past week. It acts as a filter for the sun and makes the entire day feel pretty darn fishy. We have one local fire in Yellowstone National Park that is burning on Craig Pass south of Old Faithful and the northern California fires are producing most, if not, all the smoke we are experiencing. Fire season has always run alongside late summer trout season, some years are smokier than others, that’s for sure. Rain is in the forecast for this weekend, so that should clear the air and knock the smoke down. All in all, the we are not too far from the first snow, which is hard to believe. These summer days are dwindling, but there is still time to soak up a little more sunshine and fear not, there will be more. Just don’t forget your waders and rain jacket! 
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 and the West side is too warm pushing our interest in the Firehole and Madison aside until early September. 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 now 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

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Hints of early autumn are popping up throughout the high country in Yellowstone. The first aspens are showing a touch of yellow, bull elk are beginning to bugle, and fall drakes are hatching. It’s a terrific time to be fishing in the park. 

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

Stormy weather is in the forecast on and off again for this week. So, be sure to watch water levels, or check in with us at the shop about water conditions. Fall hatches of drakes and baetis mayflies have brought fish to the surface most days from mid morning to early afternoon. Stormy days can prompt some good hatches of these bugs, but it may be later in the day. On sunny days, once the wind picks up in the afternoon, it’s a hopper and ant game. 

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

It’s far too early to be talking about fall run fish in the Madison River…but, it’s time to start paying attention to water temps, weather forecasts, and holes in your schedule during the early mornings and late evenings. Undoubtedly, there are already a few studly fish in the river, and the right combination of cool temps, and dark skies could produce a fun session or two in the coming weeks while we wait for the main event later this fall. 

Blue Squiggly Lines

It’s prime time to head off the beaten path, and chase one of the countless Blue Squiggly lines that fill Yellowstone’s backcountry. Break out the map, grab your pack, and start exploring. 

Hebgen Lake – by Jonathan Heames

Gulper fishing is still on the list of great things to do around West Yellowstone with a fly rod in hand, but the end is in sight now. These cold mornings will take their toll on callibaetis and tricos, pushing the hatch later into the day as September rolls along. It’s not too common to have great gulper fishing after the 10th or so, keep an eye on the weather with a strong preference for windless days that warm quickly.
Callibaetis are the strongest hatch throughout the lake, but be on the lookout for flying ants, midges, and tricos. Now is a very good time to look for damselfly activity in the early afternoon, the weed beds have grown up and are covered up in these little blue and red guys. If you notice trout feeding recklessly but occasionally in the area you’re fishing, try sneaking up and placing a damsel adult in the area. Let it sit for a bit and twitch it every once in a while. Usually, right when I begin to think they’re not going to eat it, they do.
Have fun out there!

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The Madison has dropped quite a bit this past week and is sitting at 953 cfs out of Hebgen, hopefully these flows will remain stable for the time being. The hopper bite is still happening, be patience during the mornings and pray for sunshine in the afternoons; the river needs to warm up and there is definitely a window of hoppertunity after lunch. On the cloudy days, we have been dead drifting streamers, rubber legs, various dips and smaller mayfly nymphs. There are a few caddis around as well, and if you can float a #16 Caddis dryfly and get it in all the right spots, you will raise a few fish, that’s for sure. Our guides are down on the Madison every single day right now and have been for all summer.  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. 

Henry’s Fork of the Snake – by Jonathan Heames

As we near the end of August, fall on the Fork begins to change the way we think about fishing. Hot summer days with sparse hatches of callibaetis, pmds, caddis, punctuated by terrestrial activity will give way to cold, misty mornings with mahogany duns and baetis on the water. Some of the lower river options will begin to fish well again as the month progresses.
The Box Canyon remains the workhorse of the river, capable of pumping out quality fishing days for quality trout week after week. Fishing has been overall very good in there, flows seem high, likely because of the weed growth displacing the water. Look for fish tight to rock structures and think about using tungsten flies that will get there without external split shot if possible. Perdigon style nymphs and zebra midges are a good place to start. Takes are as light as ever, be ready to set on the slightest of indications. The Box Canyon is a lesson in setting the hook with a nymph rig, there’s no time for doubt!
The upper Ranch has had fairly sparse bug activity and sparse rising activity. Perseverance will pay off but don’t expect to find a trout sipping steadily, you’ll need to mark where you see the rise and present the fly to that spot based on memory. It’s a good idea to have a few small hoppers with you in addition to flying ants, pmds, caddis, and some callibaetis spinners.
The lower Ranch has more bug activity centered around the influxes of spring water. These fish are in the cold water but they are techy and difficult to catch. They make for some great sport this time of year. Pmds, dark caddis in a 14 and 18, callibaetis, flying ants, and some hoppers will round out the quiver nicely here.
The canyon country from Riverside Campground on down to Warm River will fish well with dry/dropper rigs and streamers for those looking for a wilderness float experience with plenty of trout involved. Warm River to Ashton consistently is providing anglers with a satisfying experience, usually one with good numbers of opportunities mixed in there. 
The lower river below Ashton reservoir will have spotty opportunity now, mornings are a fair bet, but after noon, conditions will determine how much longer you can stick around. A hot and sunny day will put these trout in hiding after lunchtime. Hoppers, droppers, and streamers are a good program here for the next week. 
Weeds in the system haven’t been very bad, but as the river begins to drop they will get worse. Be prepared for weed clumps and mats to be drifting through the water column and embrace that you will need to deal with them. Do your best to avoid the drifting clumps while playing fish, remember to keep a deep bend in your rod and maximize pressure to keep those trout on the line. If your dry fly isn’t floating very well, bring it in, clean the weeds off, blow out the moisture and re-dress. A high line speed backcast does a lot to keep things clean and fishy out there. 

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 8/6/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 8/6/2020

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Hello there from West Yellowstone – the Trout Capital of the World!
The Dog Days of Summer are here, that’s for sure. The Greeks coined this phrase way back when and it refers to the timeframe of late July to early September when dogs and men could be driven mad just from the extreme heat alone. While we may not be driven mad from that nowadays, the fishing might drive you mad depending on your luck as well as where and when you have been angling. Fishing early in the day is the best approach right now as the hot summer afternoon temps are bringing river temps above 65 degrees on some of the local rivers. Taking time to revive a fish caught in the afternoon hours of the day will pay dividends to your fishing karma, no doubt. Like we mentioned last week, taking a hike to the higher mountain streams of YNP, Montana and Idaho is never a bad idea. While you’ll find smaller fish in those streams or lakes, they tend to be a bit more eager to eat your offerings.

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 and the West side is too warm pushing our interest in the Firehole and Madison aside until late August. 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 now 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

Yellowstone National Park – by Joe Moore

Lamar River

The Lamar is back to gin clear and fishable, but it’s been getting a little on the warm side for river temps later in the day. We’ve seen some mid to high 60 degree temps here lately so its been best to fish the river early and call it day before the heat really sets in. If you do fish in the later afternoon and evening hours, take good care of those Yellowstone Cutts and spend some time reviving them before returning them to faster current. As for the bugs, terrestrials are the name of the game. When in doubt, feed em’ a beetle! Also be on the look out for spruce moths in the treed sections of the Lamar River. Many a day can be saved with the moth when they are out and about. The USGS chart online is always a helpful tool to follow flows on the Lamar. A quick call to the shop, or better yet a visit, for up to date info on water conditions is always a strong move too.

Yellowstone River – in YNP

Flows are good, hatches are in full swing, and the river has more Cutthroat Trout in it than we’ve seen in a long time. It’s prime time to be stalking these trophy fish with a dry fly. As always, this is a technical, sight-fishing game. Be prepared to hunt for your targets, and plan a stealthy approach. PMD’s, Green Drakes, Golden Stones, and caddis will have fish looking up, but these big, old fish have been around the caldera a time or two, and require a good presentation and perfect drift.

Yellowstone Lake

It’s time look for Callibaetis spinner falls on any calm, warm mornings. The shallow weed flats near Bridge Bay, Gull Point, and Sand Point all provide opportunities for the wade fisherman to cast dry flies to cruising Cutts.

Slough Creek

This past week, the section below the Campground down a mile or so was closed off due to bear activity on a bison carcass. By the time you read this newsletter, that bear has most likely moved on to eating berries or rolling logs on the look out for ants and grubs. As always, you will want to be prepared with Bear Spray anytime you fish Slough, especially in the backcountry meadows.

If you are up for the hike, the backcountry meadows of Slough Creek are entering their prime. It’s a good idea to bring along a water filter and not pack a day’s worth of water; the weight alone will break your back! Water conditions are perfect, and mid summer hatches have Slough’s resident Cutts looking to the surface. Expect to see PMD’s, Gray Drake’s, Golden Stones, and Caddis. Hoppers, ants and beetles are patterns not to forget when you need to “throw the box” at the picky risers. If you havent tried sight nymphing, this is a fantastic way to fool these fish all the while upping your game.

Biting flies are still around and at time they are Biblical. So, make sure you have your favorite bug dope on hand. If you don’t have a favorite, stop by the shop and pick up some of ours, Ultrathon. We have it in both the lotion and spray, and have found nothing better short of full strength deet to deter those sinister little bugs. Good enough for the US Armed Forces, good enough for us, this is the stuff that works.

Gallatin River – in YNP

Warm weather brings out the best in the park waters of the Gallatin. This is a great afternoon or evening option after an am session on the Madison. Not much has changed here bug wise since last week. PMD’s, caddis, yellow sallies, Green Drakes, Flavs, and the last of the Golden Stones are all on the menu. Spruce Moths have shown up in decent numbers, so be sure to have a few of those as well.

Gallatin River – outside YNP

Great fishing continues on downstream through Big Sky and the canyon waters. Afternoon action is slower here than up in the Park waters, but morning and evening sessions will produce good numbers of fish rising to Size #14-16 rusty spinners and caddis. Spruce Moths have shown up in decent numbers, so be sure to have a few of those as well.

Hebgen Lake – by Matt Klara

Gulper season is now in full swing on Hebgen Lake. Callibaetis and tricos have the fish looking up during calm or lightly wind ruffled conditions. In the timeless words of Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar. “GAME OOOOON!”

Not much change on the chironomid scene from last week – fish seem to be focusing in on smaller offerings, in sizes 16 and even 18. Likewise, if you are chasing gulpers, but the wind starts messing with you, don’t be afraid to drop sub surface and slowly retrieve a Callibaetis nymph.
Damselflys are a true sign of summer. They entertain us with their colors, skillful flight, and seemingly endless interest in the top 1/3 of our flyrods when we are retrieving a fly slowly. Take the hint. If nothing else is really happening, strip a damsel nymph!

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The flows below Hebgen Dam have been stable this week and she’s still sitting at 1170 cfs. Way downstream at Varney Bridge, the river is moving along at 1700 cfs. We are super thankful around here to see these flows this high as hot daytime temps in the valley are in the forecast for the next 10 days. Long floats and rolling dry flies in the middle of the river will be important. Watch out for those late afternoon thunderstorms and be mindful of the lighting!

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.

Terrestrials are becoming more important by the day. Have a solid stock of beetles, ants and hoppers in your box. Epeorus mayflies have made an appearance as well and nymphing an emerger is a sneaky little trick. Nocturnal Stone flies, fished early in the morning and late in the evening can offer some fantastic takes, just be ready and let the fish eat it. Fishing a cinnamon colored parachute, Jojo’s PMD, the Parashuck PMD, Riffle Riser Crip, X Caddis, Tom’s Caddis, Comparabuzz, rusty parachute, Missing Link and, Thunder Thighs Hopper, Lightning Legs Hopper and Jojo’s Ant are on the menu. Trout are definitely looking up for ants and hoppers so be prepared with those after in the afternoon hours. Fishing subsurface with rubber leg stone flies, biot stones, Prince nymphs, tungsten PT’s, olive Arizona Hare’s Ear, Hare & Copper, Dips and of course a smattering of different perdigon nymph patterns will produce if you need to go there. Take a few moments to observe the river and watch the natural world unfold. It will show you the way if you let it.

Henry’s Fork of the Snake – by Joe Moore

The Ranch has been fishing pretty darn well during the high water with mayfly spinners; a smattering of Callibaetis, Tricos, Rusty Spinners and Grey Drakes should do the trick if presented correctly the first go around. It’s a fantastic idea to take a sunrise walk along the Fork right now to optimize your time on the water. By mid-day, things are heating up quickly and those rainbows generally don’t like bright sun. Don’t forget those caddis, ants, beetles and hopper patterns as well now that we have entered terrestrial time. The honey ants have not shown up just yet, but any day now that could happen. When it does, being knee deep in the Henry’s Fork is the place to be. The banks are your go to spots but wading, carefully that is, out into the river is a solid option as well to find those mid river risers. The flows out of the IP Reservoir are running 1320 cfs, that is still high and one needs to be extra careful when stepping away from the banks.

The Box Canyon will continue to fish as it slowly returns to non-irrigating flows. That said, it’s still pretty high at 1320 cfs. Water clarity has improved and the trout are still biting. Towards the end of the float be on the look for Grey Drake spinners and sneaky rising fish upstream of the boat ramp. So, it’s time to get techy again with those nymph rigs. 4x or 4.5x Flouro, lengthen out that leader, use a 90 degree rigging and dig out the tungsten Zebra Midges, Bullet Quills, and Red Necks.

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