Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 8/20/20

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 8/20/20

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

August is flying right on by, just the like the rest of this crazy season. The past week has brought on chilly mornings and hot afternoons. We’ve seen early morning temps as cold as 32 degrees here lately! Flows are dropping to late summer levels all across Yellowstone Country. The foliage in the mountains has begun to yellow and the sun is setting before 9pm. For me, August 22nd represents the very beginning of the changing of the Fall season. While Fall is not yet here, it is definitely getting closer by the day. I would bet there are bull elk pushing out a short squeal somewhere within a few miles of Town. I would say for certain there are brown trout making their way up a river around these parts, they might be rising to hoppers for the coming weeks, but they are on the move. Not all of them, but some of them. That first scuzzy day in the near future might be day to strip some streamers or take out that Trout Spey rod and get dailed in. 

The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho and the Madison in Montana are having some banner days. The east side of YNP is in shape and the West side is too warm pushing our interest in the Firehole and Madison aside until late August. The fly shop is a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer and masks if you don’t have one, we are now under Governor’s mandate to wear them when 6′ of social distance isn’t possible indoors; the staff will continue wearing masks for the unforeseen future. Our fishing report is written on the whiteboard right outside the door for your enjoyment, but as always, the freshest report is inside the doors of the fly shop. Stop on by, say hello and we’ll get you taken care of. 

Take care and read on, 
~ Joe

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

The Park waters continue to be a great choice this week for anyone looking to chase wild fish in iconic landscapes with dry flies. 

Lamar River

Keep an eye on flows, or give us a shout in the shop for the most current info on water conditions in the Lamar Valley as we’ve seen a few showers and passing thunderstorms lately. 
Hopper and ant fishing on the Lamar River is still strong, though afternoon water temps have been a bit too warm on several of the hottest afternoons. Be sure to take extra care when handling and reviving your fish. If you notice fish struggling to regain their vim after a big fight, consider using heavier tippet and fighting fish more quickly, or better yet, go check out the wolves that have been feasting on a bison carcass along the Northeast Entrance Road, and give the fish a break until the evening or next morning. 

Slough Creek

There may be no finer sight fishing venue than the placid, meandering waters of Slough Creek, and no better time to hunt for its native Cutthroat Trout than right now. Hoppers, beetles, ants, Baetis mayflies, and Boreal Toads will all garner attention from these magnificent fish, and if you’re skilled enough to deliver the right presentation, you just might get one to slowly rise up and yawn on your fly. 

Yellowstone River

It’s been a great Gray Drake year on the caldera stretch of the Yellowstone River. Good numbers of these big, size #12 rusty spinners have been consistently flying in the mornings and early afternoons in well known spots like Nez Perce Ford and Cascade Picnic Area. After the spinners die down, the river’s trophy Cutts have been on the hunt for hoppers, great big, hulking hoppers. 

Blue Squiggly Lines

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

Hebgen Lake – by Jonathan Heames

Gulper fishing remains a strong bet for the coming week, and we are seeing good fishing throughout the lake. A bluebird windless morning marks the right conditions for Hebgen, I usually look at the forecast and try to get an hourly breakdown. If the wind is predicted to stay below 10mph until at least noon, a morning on Hebgen is a pretty safe bet.
Primarily, Callibaetis are on the menu throughout the lake, starting their emergence around 10am, with the spinner fall occurring around noon. This will go on until the wind creeps above 10mph but doesn’t usually last much after 2 or 3pm on a windless day. There are some variations to the Callibaetis activity, depending on where you are fishing. 
First thing in the morning, you may encounter trout gulping on midges; this is characterized by faster moving fish with a rise form that appears to be pushy just under the surface. These midge eaters make for hard but entertaining targets, usually involving high speed run downs, very spooky fish, and presentations that include a slight twitch.
Flying ants can be found just about anywhere on the lake and are difficult to predict. If you see them, think about where they came from and try it again the next day. A size 14 honey ant imitation is a must have if out there these days. We like Harrop’s honey ant, Jojo’s ant, and Arrick’s flying ant patterns. When trout are feeding on ants, they aren’t usually rising with the frequency of a spinner eater, try leading them a bit more and give them more time to find your fly. This is a seek and destroy mission they are on.
Tricos make for a great spinner fall and for fishy targets that rise with great frequency. Tricos are typically limited to the Madison Arm, and though the targets are good, they are beginning to really get selective now. It’s time to break out the CDC trico spinners and 6X when chasing these trout around.
Damselfly activity continues throughout the lake and is usually found where there are shallow weedbeds and zillions of the little blue and red guys buzzing around. Often the trout are crushing the swimming nymphs near the surface, which resembles trout eating baitfish more than it does nymphs. They are also known to eat the damsel adults hovering just over the water or hanging off of weed stems. It pays to have a few damsel patterns in both nymph form and adult, there are many days that a well placed damselfly pattern over an aggressive fish adds a few trout to the day’s catch.
Have fun and be considerate of other anglers out there, these beautiful summer days are seeing more boats on the water than usual!

Madison River – by Joe Moore

There’s almost 1300 cfs pushing out of Hebgen Lake and into the Madison River, then add another 300 cfs from the tribs and you have a big river on your hands once it gets all the way down to Varney Bridge. These flows are fantastic for the fish and help insulate them from the summer’s heat.  This past week has brought on nymphing, a decent hopper and ant bite on the sunny days and a few more wet nocturnal shucks are drying out in the upper reaches of the Madison River. It’s not easy out there, but if you can float your flies, let them eat it and set the hook with the best of em’, you’ll find some good fishing on southwest Montana’s gem of a fishery. We are down on the Madison every single day right now and have been for the past couple of months.  Feel free to stop by the shop for the most up to date fishing report on the Madison – it changes by the minute down there! 
NOTE: this next part of the report will not change for the next four to five weeks and is super important to one’s success – Overall, the Madison is fishing well throughout the day, but she can be a bit moody at times. There will be sections that are slower than others and parts of the day that fish better. Various lulls throughout the day are to be expected, so pay attention to the bite and keep fishing. The warmer day time air temps and bright sun have these fish a little gun shy, but there is still plenty of game out there to be had.
For those anglers on foot in the Wade Stretch, the key will be to cover water and not spend too much time in one particular place. For those willing to risk it all and wade out into the big river, you will find fish willing to rise out amongst the big boulders and slicks. Be careful! This is best done when wet wading and if you go down, remember to face downstream and get those legs out in front of you. The Madison’s mood seems to change throughout the entire river, if one stretch isn’t fishing well then another probably is. Keep moving and slow down your pace when the fish are biting, speed up when they aren’t. 

Henry’s Fork of the Snake – by Jonathan Heames

The Henry’s Fork remains a great option during these weeks in August, the flows out of the reservoir are still relatively high while other rivers in the area are getting lower all the time.  August is the month that will see a drop in flows and that will make the river a much more weedy environment here soon.  At the moment, however, flows are strong and the weeds haven’t been bad at all. 
The Box Canyon remains an excellent choice for a day’s fishing just about anytime.  The higher flows have the trout feisty and ready to run, make sure you let them or you’ll soon be broken off!  Nymphing, as usual, reigns supreme here, though a few goldens are still flying around so a quick dry/dropper run is still a decent option. Clarity is slightly off as more water is being released from the overflow tube, so fly selections that have some fluorescents are a good idea.  Rubberlegs, perdigons, zebra midges, pheasant tails, and caddis pupas are all playing well. 
This is still a great time to spend a morning or afternoon on the Railroad Ranch.  Generally, bugs are more sparse now than at other times, but with a little careful observation an angler can locate trout and usually feed them.  We typically find better bugs during the morning hours until about noon here, then the focus turns to terrestrials, grasshopper fishing in the afternoons can be a crowd pleaser.  Callibaetis, pmds, tricos, and small dark caddis can all still be found.  Flying ants have made an appearance this week and it looks as though they’ll continue through the next week. Your day’s fishing can take a quick turn when these honey ants make their way to the water. PMDs can still be found on the springs for those wishing to bury their heads in a strong but technical emerger game.
The canyon country below the Railroad Ranch is still an excellent place to find highly oxygenated water and active fish, great dry/dropper and nymph fishing is found all the way down to Ashton Reservoir.  The lower river below Ashton is still a decent place to spend a morning hunting for a big fish or two, but anglers should keep an eye on water temps and not plan on being there after lunchtime.
For those of you that wish to help support a great cause and a model organization when it comes to river stewardship, the Henry’s Fork Foundation is hosting their virtual auction this week and it ends this Saturday the 22nd. There are lots of great items on the auction block and proceeds go directly to supporting a cause that’s been doing great work since the 80s. Check it out at: https://events.handbid.com/auctions/2020-henrys-fork-days

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 7/16/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 7/16/2020


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

The past month as been a whirlwind of guiding and traveling from the Henry’s Fork, to the Madison, to the Missouri and back again to the Madison River. My guide schedule has slowed down a little bit and I’ll now be spending time in the shop helping Justin and Jonathan manage the flow and getting on the water a bit for myself. Yellowstone National Park is coming into prime time for the Yellowstone River and the tributaries and while Jonathan is away guiding the Missouri, Justin and I have planned to make a day of it on the Yellowstone River for Opening Day. It’s been close to 20 years since I have been able to fish the big river on July 15! By the time you read this, we will have hopefully fooled a few of those Cutthroat in Hayden Valley. 

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 

Henry’s Fork of the Snake – by Jonathan Heames

While water levels are on the decrease in rivers around the west during the middle of summer, the Henry’s Fork begins to show some of its unique characteristics of water management. Flows begin to increase and some years these flows in June and early August can rival the high flows of the runoff season. This is the time of year that the water stored for irrigation is being called for and is being moved through the system. 
In the Box Canyon, just below Island Park Reservoir, flows are now close to 1500 cfs, having stepped up consistently each day over the past two weeks. Fishing will stay relatively constant and this remains a good time to fish the Box. These high flows seem to energize the trout in this boulder-strewn section of water and they remain actively feeding on mayfly nymphs, caddis pupa, as well as the odd stonefly nymph. Lengthen your nymphing leaders accordingly and you will find yourself adding a BB shot to reach the bottom in some of the faster runs. 
In the Railroad Ranch, the high water will taper some of the action off. There will still be trout sipping on the surface but the hatches become less consistent. It’s still worth searching for morning spinner falls and keeping your eyes open for bank feeders. This is a time of year that we can begin to see the first flying ant falls, other terrestrial patterns now taking a hold on the fishery as well.
The canyon country below the Ranch remains consistent, flows are higher but, as in the case of the Box Canyon, the trout are livened up by the increase in flows and good fishing will be found all the way to Ashton Reservoir. The scenic section just above Ashton provides some of the most consistent fishing found anywhere in the area and is one of the best sections of water we know of to introduce someone to the sport, youngster or adult.
The increase in flows through the system is intended for the land and area surrounding Ashton, so the draws begin to diminish the river’s size below Ashton Reservoir. Fishing below the reservoir has small windows of opportunity but is generally best left alone for the next 6 weeks due to higher water temps and low water levels.

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The flows below Hebgen Dam have flatlined for the past week and we are sitting at 813 cfs. While this is a decent flow it would normally be about 200 cfs higher, but we’ll take it! Way downstream at Varney Bridge, the river is moving right along at 1590 cfs. We have found the fish to be sitting off the bank, at times 6-10 feet off the bank until there are caddis around. Once those caddis begin hatching mid morning or laying eggs late in the evening you will find fish on the banks in shallow water. Overall, the Madison is fishing really well throughout the day. There will be sections that are slower than others and parts of the day that fish better. The cooler overnight temperatures are keeping everyone and everything happy as a clam at high tide. 
PMDs and Caddis are hatching in solid numbers; green drakes and Flavs are still showing up in a few places. Goldens and Salmonflies are still around in specific spots, we won’t go into details on the Big Bugs, but stop by the shop if you want to know more. Jojo’s PMD, the Parashuck PMD, Riffle Riser Crip, X Caddis, Tom’s Caddis, Comparabuzz, Missing Link, Lawson’s Golden, Lawson’s Salmonfly and the Chubbinator are the soup de jour. 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. We suggest that you knot on a dry fly, cover some water and leave the nymphs in the truck. Take a few moments to observe the river and watch the natural world unfold. It will show you the way if you let it. 

Missouri River – by Joe Moore

The Missouri River is humming right along at 5950 cfs. Last week Joe experienced a large drop in flows, the river fell darn near 6,000 cfs in a matter of several days. Fishing was still solid, but changing tactics during the plummet was key. Jonathan is up there this week and as luck would have, the flows haven’t changed too much. They have been feeding fish dry flies and having great success. Give us a shout if you’re headed up that way as we have a fresh report almost daily from Jonathan and Greg. 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. For the dry fly angler, it’s gonna be a spinner and emerger game on the mayfly side of things and as always, caddis patterns like the Comparabuzz, Halo Caddis and Tom’s Caddis will fool most any trout on the Missouri River.

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

We’ve been waiting patiently, but the time has finally come to fully commit our attention to Yellowstone Park waters. Flows, temps, and hatches are all at or near prime right now, and the next several weeks will be the height of the season.

Yellowstone River – in YNP
The upper caldera stretch of the Yellowstone River from Chittenden Bridge upstream to Yellowstone Lake opened on July 15. This is among the best sight fishing venues in the sport, and it’s just coming into its prime. Flows are still a bit generous. So, don’t expect to cross anytime soon without a heroic effort. Luckily, you should be able to find some good targets from the bank with a little hunting. Expect to see Salmonflies, Golden Stones, PMD’s and Caddis with Gray and Green Drakes imminent. 
The Canyon stretches of the Yellowstone River are still a great place to take an adventurous hike to fish Salmonflies and Golden Stones. Bring your bear spray, plenty of water, and some good hiking boots/shoes. There’s not much need for wading here as flows are still aggressive, and all of your opportunities will be right along the banks.

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

We’re finally 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 Soda Butte), and check with the shop for up to date info before you make the trip.

Slough Creek
Still a strong amount of water in Slough Creek, but it’s slowly coming down. Hatches of PMD’s, Caddis, and a few Gray Drakes are bringing Cutts to the surface. Biting flies are active here too. So, don’t forget your bug spray, long sleeves, and pants. 

Lamar River 
Both water levels and clarity have improved on the Lamar. Flows are low enough to wade throughout the valley. Stoneflies are still active in the canyon stretches. Caddis, PMD’s and Green Drakes are the main attraction out in the valley. 

Soda Butte Creek Good water conditions, PMD hatches, and rising Cutthroat Trout have made Soda Butte a favorite among visiting anglers for years, and this season is no exception.

Gardner River
This small, pocket water tributary to the Yellowstone River remains a good bet for some dry fly fishing with caddis, PMD’s, Golden Stones, and a few Salmonflies. 

Gallatin River – in YNP
Mornings are still cold (30’s), but warm weather has spurred some great fishing in the afternoons and evenings on the Park stretch of the Gallatin River. PMD’s, Caddis, Golden Stones, and Green Drakes are all active right now, and some good fish are looking for them. These waters are diverse in bug life and fish species alike with opportunities to catch browns, rainbows, Cutts, Cutts-bows, brookies, and whitefish. 

Gallatin River – outside YNP
The Gallatin near Big Sky, and through the canyon is also fishing well right now. Water conditions are great, and fish have plenty of bugs to keep them actively feeding throughout the day. These lower waters are considerably warmer than the Park waters, and feeding activity will begin far earlier in the day. Look caddis, PMD’s, Goldenstones, Flavs, and Green Drakes. 

Hebgen Lake 
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 should soon be 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.

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

12 Days of Christmas – Day Six – Summer Dry Fly Selection

12 Days of Christmas – Day Six – Summer Dry Fly Selection

 

West Yellowstone is one of those unique places in the world which offers dry fly fishing for nearly seven months of the year. Most of us in the shop prefer to fish dries whenever possible in our daily lives as anglers to our fishing programs as guides. From the Henry’s Fork to the Madison, to the Northeast Corner to the Firehole River, we do our best to fish it dry. The flies in this package represent some of the fishiest patterns in the shop; it’s a smattering of caddis and mayflies and includes four of Joe Moore’s original fly patterns.

The contents of the package is below.

1 x BSA Small Heavy Duty Waterproof Fly Box – FREE!

2 x JoJo’s Comparabuzz Tan Sz. 16

2 x JoJo’s PMD Sz. 16

2 x Royal Wulff Cripple Sz. 16

2 x JoJo’s Riffle Riser PMD Cripple Sz. 16

2 x Cornfed Caddis Sz. 14

2 x Missing Link Caddis PMD Sz. 16 & 14

2 x Swisher’s Peacock PMX Sz. 12

2 x JoJo’s Rusty Spinner Sz. 16

2 x Missing Link Caddis Original Black Sz. 14

2 x CDC Para Spinner Rusty Sz. 16