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

The Madison River Recreation Plan: FWP Needs Your Comments By October 30th.

The Madison River Recreation Plan: FWP Needs Your Comments By October 30th.

Madison River Recreation Plan Proposal.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking public comment until October 30th, 2020. The results of this will affect your fishing on the Madison River.

Some of you may have heard the buzz about Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks moving forward with a Madison River Recreation Plan.  This is an important next step in a movement that has been discussed for the past 10 years.  This plan has ultimately come to a head because of perceived overcrowding on the river.  Users wishing to preserve and protect the quality of the experience on the Madison River have been convening to discuss the many points of view and perspectives on how best to manage this.  In many ways, this is a discussion and plan that will set the standard for other rivers in the West for years to come, so it’s worth taking a moment to understand what is at stake here and offering your public comment where you are able.  Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is accepting public comment until October 30th on this and the commissioners will come to a vote on November 18th, 2020.   

It is our goal to inform those of you that are interested in what Big Sky Anglers’ stance is on these issues, to offer some interpretation and navigability of the current proposals, and include links to the original documents so that those of you that wish to read and decide for yourselves are able to do so easily. The Madison is truly a special river that belongs to all of us (Montana residents and non-residents, commercial users and public users) and we hope that a reasonable plan that achieves the goal of limiting the perceived crowding and, most importantly, protecting the resource can emerge from all of this. As with all public resource management issues, the current discussion needs your opinion, it needs to hear from the public.   

We and others have found the current rules being proposed to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Commissioners are a bit muddy and difficult to navigate, so we are hoping to put the current discussion into simpler terms here.  A link to the actual language for anyone who wishes to read through it more carefully is located here

FWP has clearly stated that this plan will be developed based on the comments received by the public.The Madison River is a public resource with rulemaking driven by public comment, not by commercial users.  Your voice is needed more than you might imagine.

Public Comment can be submitted by the following methods and must be received by October 30, 2020:

Online:  FWP website link

Mail:  Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Madison River Rules, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT, 59620-0701

Email: madisonrivercom@mt.gov

PROPOSED RULES 1-16

Rule 1:  Cap outfitting use.

Rule 2:  Rest and Rotation

Rule 3:  Closure of Walk/Wade section to boats

Rule 4: Limit Development on Madison River

Rule 5:  Closure of Walk/Wade section to boats, alternate plan to Rule 3

Rule 6:  Management of Limited Commercial Users

Rule 7:  Transferred Permits

Rule 8:  Flex Trips

Rule 9:  Transfer of Guided Trips

Rule 10:  Mandatory Guided Trip Reductions

Rule 11:  Permit and Application Fees

Rule 12:  Reporting and Use Fees

Rule 13:  Plan Evaluation

Rule 14:  Commercial Use Working Group

Rule 15:  Madison River SRP Trip Distribution Pool

Rule 16:  Madison River Use Stamp

Summary

In short, there are 16 rules being proposed, and these three are standing out as contentious and worthy of comment: Rules 2, 3, and 5.  The rest deal with the management of commercial permits and we accept them as they are.  We believe that limiting our own impact, as commercial users, is critical to any proposed plan. 

Rule 2:  Rest and Rotation**Being proposed here is a Saturday closure of all commercial use from Varney Bridge to Ennis and a Sunday closure from Lyons Bridge to Palisades.  These closures will be active from June 15-September 30**

Our position is that Rest and Rotation as it is currently defined will not work on the Madison River and will in fact make crowding worse. The method needs improvement.

This doesn’t seem too extreme at face value but it should be noted that the language being used for Rest and Rotation is flawed in that the Sunday closure of Lyons-Palisades incidentally results in the closure of AT LEAST 8 float section options to commercial use.  Each of the following sections utilizes a portion of or all of the proposed closure and would be closed for guided trips on Sundays.         

 -Lyons Bridge to Windy Point        

 -Lyons Bridge to Palisades        

 -Lyons Bridge to Ruby Creek       

 -Lyons Bridge to Mcatee Bridge        

-Windy Point to Palisades         

-Windy Point to Ruby Creek         

-Windy Point to Mcatee Bridge         

-Windy Point to Storey Ditch         

-Raynold’s Pass to Windy Point         

-Pine Butte to Windy Point         

-Pine Butte to Palisades 

The incidental closure of all of these sections will force ALL guided float trips on Sundays into Palisades and downstream, into those sections that have much lower fish counts per mile than the upper reaches and cannot handle the inevitable increase of fishing pressure.  The concentration of guide boats caused by the proposed rule will also result in circumstances that we believe will be perceived as overcrowding of the river below Palisades on Sundays – the exact opposite of the intended result of the rule.  

Closing of the entire section doesn’t work on the Madison, perhaps we can explore rest and rotation on the individual fishing access level as a possible alternative.  For example, Lyons Bridge access could be closed on Sundays to commercial use. Another consideration might be to close that particular float on a given day, but still allow for other floats that overlap the same section to occur. Allowing boats to spread out is the key to avoiding crowded situations. 

Rule 3:  Closure of Walk/Wade Section to boats**Being proposed here is a closure to ALL boats (not just commercial) in the sections of river commonly referred to as the walk/wade stretches (Quake Lake outlet – Lyons Bridge and Ennis to Ennis Reservoir) on weekends: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  These closures will be active from June 15-September 30**

Our position is that we do NOT support the ban of watercraft on the wade section at any time and we do NOT support fishing from boats in the wade section. 

At face value this rule seems noble, but it’s worth noting several things here to consider.   Firstly, the issue we are facing on the Madison is overcrowding, taking boats out of the wade section on weekends lessens anglers’ ability to spread out, forcing everyone into the same wade fishing accesses.   Secondly, several landowners in the upper wade section have become increasingly aggressive about confronting wade fishing anglers, accusing them of trespassing according to their own interpretation of the Montana Stream Access Law.  They are aggressively posting no trespassing signs, arguably illegally, and chasing anglers off of the public water adjacent to their property.   

We believe that actively limiting stream access to public water does not represent Montana values, and establishes a dangerous precedent that flies in the face of our beloved Stream Access Law.  Limiting access in this instance may also result in future litigation, wasting both taxpayer money and State resources. When combined with Proposed Rule #2, this rule has the potential to cause even greater crowding of boat-based anglers and recreational floaters into the sections of river downstream of Palisades. This rule is an access issue and should be looked at with a more critical eye as it benefits very few (a handful of property owners) at the cost of many (the angling public). 

Rule 5:  Closure of Walk/Wade Section to Boats-Alternate to Rule 3**Being proposed here is an alternate rule to Rule 3: this is presented by FOAM (Fishing Outfitter Association of Montana) and proposes a closure to boats on the two walk/wade stretches on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Leaving Sunday open to boats to accommodate the Rest and Rotation closure of Lyons to Palisades to commercial use in Rule 2.  It also proposes to allow fishing from the boat in the walk/wade section from Sunday through Wednesday.  These closures will be active from June 15-September 30**

Our position is that we do NOT support the ban of watercraft on the wade section at any time and we do NOT support fishing from boats in the wade section.

As mentioned, this is intended to be an alternate to Rule 3.  Best case scenario in our view is the omission of BOTH of these Rules, retaining the status quo in the walk/wade sections.  We believe that there is significant value to the angling public in retaining the existing rules banning angling from a floating craft upstream of Lyons Bridge.

MT FWP Needs Your Comments

We encourage you to make comments of your own, but if you are inclined to agree with Big Sky Anglers’ positioning on these matters and don’t have time to draft a personal comment, please feel free to utilize any of the following text in your comments to FWP on their website, by mail, or by Email: madisonrivercom@mt.gov.

Please feel free to contact us at info@bigskyanglers.com with any questions or if we can help clarify any of these complicated issues.

Please Feel Free to Copy and Paste this Text if it Suits You

To Whom it May Concern, 

Thank you for allowing the public to comment on this important proposal for the Madison River, I agree with proposed rules 1, 4, and 6-16. I would like to issue the following comments on Rules 2, 3, and 5: 

Rule 2.  The language currently being used to define rest and rotation is flawed and I believe will have the reverse effect from that which is intended.  Specifically, by closing Lyons Bridge to Palisades on Sundays to commercial use, this rule as written will ban commercial float trips on AT LEAST 8 popular float sections of the river:          

1.  Lyons Bridge to Windy Point         

2.  Lyons Bridge to Palisades         

3.  Lyons Bridge to Ruby Creek         

4.  Lyons Bridge to Mcatee Bridge         

5.  Windy Point to Palisades         

6.  Windy Point to Ruby Creek         

7.   Windy Point to Mcatee Bridge         

8.  Windy Point to Storey Ditch         

9.  Raynold’s Pass to Windy Point         

10.  Pine Butte to Windy Point         

11.  Pine Butte to Palisades 

The incidental closure of all of these sections will force ALL guided float trips into Palisades and downstream, into sections that have much lower fish counts per mile than the upper reaches and cannot handle the inevitable increase of fishing pressure.  The concentration of guide boats caused by the proposed rule will also result in circumstances that we believe will be perceived as overcrowding of the river downstream of Palisades on Sundays – the exact opposite of the intended result of the rule.

I encourage the Commissioners to explore other options for Rest and Rotation rather than closing an entire section to all commercial traffic. One alternative would be to close a particular access on a given day, rather than the entire section. Another could be to allow floats to occur that pass through this section but do not start at Lyons Bridge and terminate at Palisades. Allowing boats the ability to spread out on the Madison is the key to helping prevent perceived crowding. 

Rules 3 and 5.  I disagree with removing boats from the walk/wade sections of the Madison.  This will only benefit the few landowners in these areas at the expense of the many public anglers.  It will also increase crowding at wade fishing access points. I believe that there is significant value to the angling public in retaining the existing rules banning angling from a floating craft upstream of Lyons Bridge.  I also believe that actively limiting stream access to public water does not represent Montana values, and establishes a dangerous precedent that flies in the face of Montana’s beloved Stream Access Law.  Limiting access in this instance may also result in future litigation, wasting both taxpayer money and State resources. When combined with Proposed Rule #2, this rule has the potential to cause even greater crowding of boat based anglers and recreational floaters into the sections of river downstream of Palisades.

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 – 10/08/2020

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

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

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

Take care and fish on,
~ Matt

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

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

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

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

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

Yellowstone National Park

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

Gallatin River

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

Madison River

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

Henry’s & Hebgen Lakes – By Matt Klara

The lake fishing is in prime shape if you are willing to skip out on the river action and time your fishing to coincide with key weather and feeding windows. Aquatic vegetation is dieing back, revealing the tastiest of food items that have been hiding for the trout for a while – leeches and scuds. Fall is baitfish time as well, so don’t be afraid to fish those suggestive patterns like Seal Buggers along the margins when light is low. Really start to look for fish in shallow, along receding weed margins, and near creek and river mouths as those are all seasonal hot spots, and move into deeper water as the day brightens. As water temps really start to cool down, be prepared to slow your presentations as well!

Missouri River – By Joe Moore

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

River Flows and the Weather Forecast

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