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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is newsletter-image2-1.png

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is newsletter-image2-1.png

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is newsletter-image2-1.png

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 7/23/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 7/23/2020


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

Nostalgia set in last week as Justin, my Dad and I headed over to Hayden Valley in search native cutthroat downstream of Yellowstone Lake. Years ago, back in 92′, my Dad brought me to West Yellowstone on a fishing trip of a life time. I have fond memories of fishing yellow Humpies to rising cutthroat near Buffalo Ford, now known as Nez Perce Ford. Back then, one could fish dry flies all day and catch more cutthroat than you could shake a stick at. It was on the Yellowstone that I was forced to perfect the reach cast and stack mending as well as fishing dry flies up stream. While cutties aren’t known to be tricky fish, they will become smart once fished over without a drag free drift. We have entered the time of the year when upping one’s game will greatly increase one’s chances. Practice casting before your trip! 

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, the Madison in Montana and the Missouri River in Craig are all fishing quite well. The east side of YNP is shaping up as the West side begins to 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 choose to wear one; 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

The mercury has been on the rise this week across Big Sky Country bringing water temps up, and slowing down the fishing in many low lying areas. This is the time to look to the cold, high country waters in Yellowstone Park for consistent fishing. 

Yellowstone River – in YNP

Sight fishing for large, dry-fly-sipping Yellowstone Cutthroats has been great in the technical flat water of the Caldera. An assortment of bugs are active now. So, bring an inquisitive eye, and a fly box full of size #18-12 mayfly spinners in rusty and olive. PMD and Green Drake duns, as well as Salmonfly and Golden Stone adults will also be important. 
The rugged waters of both the Black and Grand Canyons of the Yellowstone continue to fish well for those adventurous anglers willing to hike. Salmonflies and Goldenstones are giving way to Nocturnal stoneflies and Hoppers. So, you will be week served to have a robust supply of large, foam dry flies with plenty of rubberlegs. “Waterwalkers” in size 8-10 fit the bill. 

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. 

Northeast Corner – Slough Cr, Lamar River

We’re seeing good water conditions and consistent fishing in the Cutthroat Corner. As always, keep an eye on the weather, be wary of any thunderstorms or rain events as they will bring color to the water (on Lamar), and check with the shop for up to date info before you make the trip.

Slough Creek

As we enter the peak of our summer season the backcountry meadows of Slough Creek are entering their prime. 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. 
As always, you will want to be prepared with Bear Spray anytime you fish Slough, especially in the backcountry meadows. 
Biting flies are still around. So, make sure you have your favorite bug dope as well. 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.

Lamar River 

The Lamar River is fishing very well right now. Flows and water clarity are perfect. Expect to see a variety of bugs hatching from PMD’s and Green Drakes, to caddis and Golden Stones.
You should always come to the Lamar Valley expecting to cover a lot of water and territory while fishing. This is big country, and as the river naturally decreases in flow each summer the fish slowly move and concentrate in only the most prime pieces of water. You’ll see many spots that look like they might have a fish or two and have none. Other spots will be just too good to pass up, and here you will find every fish in that section. Spend your time fishing these A+ spots, and pass up everything else. Once you’ve found a few fish, move on to the next spot that you just can’t pass up. 

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. 

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. 

Hebgen Lake – by Steve Hoovler

Consistent, warm weather is a key ingredient to the early stages of gulper fishing on Hebgen Lake. Trico and Callibaetis mayflies are another critical component. All three are present now, and gulpering Is well underway. If Gulpers and Gulpering are foreign words and/or concepts to you, swing by the shop for some enlightenment, and possibly an introduction to your next addiction.

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The flows below Hebgen Dam bounced up this past week and we are now sitting at 985 cfs. Way downstream at Varney Bridge, the river is moving along at 1460 cfs. 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. 
Caddis are still hatching in decent numbers and Epeorus mayflies have made an appearance as well. Fishing caddis and a cinnamon colored parachute, Jojo’s PMD, the Parashuck PMD, Riffle Riser Crip, X Caddis, Tom’s Caddis, Comparabuzz, rusty parachute, Missing Link and the Chubbinator are the soup de jour. Ants and hoppers are starting to turn a few fish as well, so be prepared with those. 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 Jonathan Heames

Irrigation season remains in full force on the Henry’s Fork at this time, while other rivers in the area are experiencing rapidly decreasing flows and low water conditions, the Henry’s Fork is nearing spring flow levels out of Island Park Reservoir. This is one of the characteristics of the Fork that makes it such a unique and complementary fishery in Yellowstone country. On the Fork, we are back to nymphing rubberlegs and finding fish in shallows that three weeks ago were too low and fish had already moved out of.
The Box Canyon remains as consistent as ever, but flows are up to 1700 cfs out of Island Park Dam and that requires a shift in tactics that isn’t common this time of year in other fisheries. Trade in the 4X for 2X and 3X and put some BB split shot on a leader that might have an extra foot in length between the first fly and the indicator. Keep an eye on clarity in the canyon this time of year, if the water is off color, try flies with a touch of fluorescence. Rubberlegs nymphs and tungsten-headed nymphs will get you started off on the right foot.
The Railroad Ranch is running high and approaching a time of year where bugs become inconsistent at best. Plenty of water in the river means those bank lies will hold enough water to help trout feel comfortable again. This is good for the coming terrestrial season. Keep a sharp eye out for inconsistent and sparse rising activity and don’t be afraid to put a clean shot on a spot you thought you saw a rise in 10 minutes ago. Higher water levels encourage trout to remain in their lies and not go hunting and cruising for food like they have been the past month. Now is the time that the Ranch angler becomes more of a hunter than a shooter. Expect fewer rises overall but be prepared with food that will raise those inconsistently rising trout. Flying ants, beetles, grasshoppers, caddis, pmds, and flavs are all still a possiblility out there. Callibaetis on the horizon!
The canyons below remain consistent and offer great dry/dropper fishing at this moment, these summer periods are wonderful times to disappear fishing in one of the canyons. High walls with lots of trees provide shady spots to pull over on hot summer days, highly oxygenated water keeps the trout in these sections happy and busy.
The section just above Ashton Reservoir, from the confluence of Warm River represents the Henry’s Fork at its largest, this is the last section of the river before diversions begin to take water out for irrigation. The river is moving right along in here and be prepared to hunt the shallows for a few nice trout or fish the transitions with nymph rigs for good action. Rubberlegs, tungsten mayfly nymphs and caddis pupa are all essential for the quiver here. Don’t forget the size 14 brown and red zebra midges!
Though the odd large trout appear from time to time, now is the right time to give this section a rest unless you are fishing the morning hours or watching the weather and flows closely. This is not the fishery it was a month ago, and those tied mostly closely to it do well to keep a keen eye on conditions. Generally, temps are too high for these sections to be reliable throughout the day.

Missouri River – by Joe Moore and Jonathan Heames

The Missouri River is flowing at 4920 cfs and with any luck it will sit right here for a little while. Tricos have showed up, caddis are present and PMDs are on the decline. Caddis generally remain the fly to present first for dry fly fishing with tricos on the immediate horizon. Cloudy days will have both rusty and yellow spinners in the morning, sizes 14-20. It ain’t easy out there on the dry fly and that first cast is everything. After that first cast, one’s chances are reduced drastically. 
Don’t underestimate the value of a down-and-across presentation with a well-executed reach cast that lands 40 feet away with slack in the tippet. This kind of dry fly fishing is honest. Trout at this time of year demand a perfect presentation. If it’s not perfect…well, it’s not what works and it will put the trout down. 
For the dry fly angler, it’s gonna be a spinner and emerger game on the mayfly side of things and for the near future, caddis patterns like the Comparabuzz in grey and tan, Halo Caddis, Henry’s Fork CDC caddis in 16-18, Rusty Spinner, Trico Spinner and Tom’s Caddis will fool most any trout on the Missouri River. 
Nymph fishing has been productive, especially in the morning hours on a sunny day. If there are clouds around, you’ll notice a difference in the quality of the fishing. Even sparse cloud cover makes a difference. Give us a shout if you’re headed up that way as we have a fresh report almost daily from Greg, Ray and Mike. Split back PMDs, Green Machine, Tom’s nymph, Pyscho Princes, Silvey’s Pupa and weight flies are working with the emergence of PMDs and caddis. 
The crayfish game is definitely in play right now. The Zirdle or Zit under a bobber, either short or long with a bead head behind it will make you smile.

River Flows and 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

Hatch Profile – Arctopsyche grandis; My favorite Salmonfly pattern on the Madison River

Hatch Profile – Arctopsyche grandis; My favorite Salmonfly pattern on the Madison River

Fishing the iconic Salmonfly (Pteronarcys californica) hatch on the Fifty-Mile Riffle is an epic experience to say the least.  Snow-capped mountains and lush green hillsides frame a robust river flush with the bounty of early season snowmelt. Tremendous browns and rainbows rise eagerly to engulf massive insects from the surface. It’s the stuff of legends.

Though, like many phenomenons, they are all too often elusive. One day you’re a bit too far upstream of the hatch, the next day you’re too far behind it. Sometimes you’re right smack in the middle of the hatch, but the fish have seen too many bugs and reject your fly as if to say “sorry Sucker, better luck next time”.

Every so often, when the stars align, you get to watch in amazement as big trout erupt on your dry fly, and tear upstream in a violent and powerful run. On days like these you can do no wrong, it’s as if every trophy trout in the river has been waiting all year just to eat your fly. Though, sadly, that’s not the norm. The reason those epic days are so special is because they so rarely happen.

I’ve spent many days watching perfect drifts go unrewarded during the Madison’s salmonfly hatch with perfectly presented stonefly imitations. Over the years I’ve been forced to look past the obvious attraction of the Hollywood Hatch, and look deeper for other ways to feed these crafty trout. More times than not, the answer has been with Arctopsyche grandis.

Arctopsyche grandis is a large (size #8-10) chocolate-colored caddis that is conveniently at its peak of activity on the Madison River when salmonflies are hatching.

A. grandis are predominantly nocturnal, but at their peak abundance, the sheer volume of insects provides an ample supply of unlucky individuals who fall or get blown from stream side vegetation into the drift. Just like Salmonflies, Arctopsyche adults can be seen fluttering haphazardly across the surface, especially close to the banks, on windy afternoons.

Conveniently, many of the Madison’s best brown trout occupy those prime lies along the bank, hunting opportunistically for any and all insects that come their way, not just the immense stoneflies.

I generally prefer to present a single dry fly to these sneaky bank feeders. I like a 10-12 foot leader (depending on wind), with a long 2-3 foot tippet section of soft monofilament. When casting from the drift boat, I find a downstream presentation with a reach cast to be the most effective. When wading, I like to approach from below my target, fishing upstream with an elevated pile cast and a slight reach to the bank side.

Dry fly patterns like a size #10 Royal Stimulator, #10 Micro-Chubby, or #10 PMX are all great searching patterns when Arctopsyche are active. All of these flies are also great imitations for the multitude of smaller stoneflies which are present at these times.

When dry fly fishing isn’t producing, often in the week or so leading up to the hatch, larval imitations of A. grandis can be seriously effective. These large larvae are found in size #8-10 on the Madison with a bright olive body and a dark brown head. Nymph patterns like the BSA Beadhead Caddis Pupa, and a Tungsten King Prince are a great choice.

Don’t get me wrong, on days when the infamous fish on the Madison are crushing Salmonfly dries I will cast them until my arm falls off. But when they’re not, you will most likely find me fishing an Arctopsyche imitation….with a bent rod.

So, keep an eye out for these large, chocolate-colored caddis the next time you’re fishing the Madison during stonefly activity, and keep their imitations on deck if you’re watching too many of your own perfect drifts with a Salmonfly go unrewarded.