Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 7/2/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 7/2/2020

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


July is here and if one thing is for certain, our days will be filled with dry flies and rising trout. We have now entered one of the most coveted timeframes in Greater Yellowstone Country. Each day stretches out to what seems like an eternity and the fishing possibilities are endless. The past twelve days have found me behind the oars directing my drift boat down the Henry’s Fork and the Madison. Rowing a boat is a passion that we all share here at BSA and this marks my 21st season in the middle seat. I’ve seen more fish eat dry flies than most folks in this world and have missed my fare share. Spending my days on a river in this amazing corner of the World is a gift that I cherish each and every day. This week brought on more rain and a glaze of snow in the high country, the wet weather is a blessing no doubt, but all of us could use little more Vitamin D in our life. Big puffy clouds and sunshine are in the forecast as we head into the Holiday weekend which will get the caddis cranked up and make the evening spinner fall something to look forward to. 

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 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


Some folks like to call the Madison a caddis river and the Henry’s Fork a mayfly river. I don’t know if I fully subscribe to that, but the thought generally sticks in my mind as I look at the weather when trying to decide what to do on a cloudy day in late June and early July. Clouds mean mayflies and when those mayflies are likely to be any one of the following bugs, the Henry’s Fork is a pretty good choice for a day’s fishing:Green Drakes, Flavs, and/or PMDs. 
The Fork is fishing pretty darn well this year and great fishing is found from top to bottom at the moment. The upper river has likely just finished up with brown drakes with a few green drakes still around. With drakes, no one can be too sure, so be ready for anything. However, history would suggest that drakes are on the wane in the upper with both flavs and pmds on the rise in the Ranch as well as Last Chance. The Ranch has fished very well since the opener and we are hopeful that this trend will continue with morning spinner falls, afternoon pmd emergences, and early afternoon flav hatches when there are enough clouds in the sky to keep it all in balance! Don’t forget to have caddis in both olive and tan and in 14s and 16s. There’s no question that right when you’ve got it all figured out and you’re ready for a mayfly hatch, the river will turn its nose at you and decide to deliver you a batch of caddis, so be prepared!
The Box Canyon will continue to offer great nymph fishing and some periods of terrific golden stone dry fly fishing throughout the month of July for those looking for a fun day’s fishing in a beautiful place in the world. The other canyon country further on down the system will enjoy frequent catches and good action.
Just outside of the canyons, the Warm River to Ashton section should provide excellent action with nymph and dry/dropper fishing for those looking for a fun day on the water. Downstream of Ashton Reservoir, things will start to really tighten up. Every warm day will play on the fishery down low and begin to slow it down. Every cloud in the afternoon has the potential of livening things up for a short while, but eventually the sunny days of July and the irrigation demand in the Snake River Valley will win and this lower Henry’s Fork fishery will go to sleep until September. It has been unforgettable and great and will be so right up until the very abrupt end, likely this week, so get ready to change gears…

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The flows at Hebgen have bumped slightly to 622 CFS, Hebgen is close to full pond so with any luck we will see an increase in flows over the next week. The banks are pretty skinny on the Madison River right now, but fortunately the tributaries are kicking in enough water to keep things a bit higher as one movers downstream in the Madison Valley. Overall, the Madison is fishing really well. There are lots of salmonfly nymphs making their way to the banks; PMDs and caddis are hatching in sold numbers to boot. The dry fly fishing showed up this week river wide. Jojo’s PMD, the Parashuck PMD, Riffle Riser Crip, X Caddis and the Chubbinator fooled plenty of fish. Fishing subsurface with rubber leg stone flies, biot stones, San Juan Worms, Prince Nymphs, tungsten PT’s, olive Arizona Hare’s Ear, Dips and of course a smattering of different perdigon nymph patterns will produce. Fishing caddis late in the evening might be a solid play right now as the warmer weather earlier in the week had them hatching in decent numbers. 
Salmonflies? Yes, they are here. Where? Mostly down around Varney Bridge and creeping past the Cameron flats in a few spots. This past week’s cold rain and snow in the high country has them hunkered down in need of sunshine. By the time you read this, the sun will have poked out enough to get them flying. Much like 2020, this year’s hatch has been a bit off, that for sure. The long range forecast of sunshine should get the Big Bugs moving again. 

Missouri River – by Joe Moore

As of Tuesday morning, the Missouri river is flowing at 10,900 cfs and the Dearborn is flowing 1200 cfs. That’s up quite a bit due to heavy rains both locally and in the headwater areas of southwest Montana. From the looks of the pics we’ve seen, the Canyon REch is blown out completely. The dry fly fishing had been good enough for those willing to look in the sneaky spots, but with the recent bump in flows that might change a little bit. Give us a shout if you’re headed up that way as we have a fresh report almost daily. Joe will be headed up there after the 4th July with hopes that river flows diminish so he doesn’t have to buy a longer anchor rope. Jonathan will be up there on his heels in the second week of July. 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. 

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Just when I started to break out the big-brimmed, straw hat and wet wading gear Mother Nature reminded us what living in the mountains at elevation is really like. Yet, another cold, wet, persistent weather system has delayed many Park waters from shifting into summer gear. 
The “Forecast” is looking warmer and drier, but my faith in forecasts is shaky at best after the soggy week we’ve just seen. If predictions ring true, and Yellowstone’s high country gets a chance to dry out, we are in for some fun fishing in the next few weeks. 

Firehole River
Cold, wet weather was once again a shot in the arm for the Firehole keeping water temps low and pumping more hatches of mayflies. But with warm weather coming, this classic fishery is definitely on life support. 
As we watch the equinox fade in the rear view mirror, and shift gears into summertime, it’s time to let the Firehole rest and recover until water temps begin to drop again in the fall. 
For those diehard Firehole Fanatics out there that just can’t get enough, consider looking for early am and late pm spinner falls and caddis activity, and limit your sessions to the upper river above Midway Geyser Basin where water temps are a bit cooler. 
Madison River – in YNP
The Madison in YNP will continue to have good spinner falls and caddis activity in the mornings and evenings in the coming week, especially when conditions are calm and warm. Look at any of the smooth glassy pieces of water between Madison Junction and the West gate to find rising fish and technical dry fly situations. Some nice fish remain in the river (before sliding back down to Hebgen Lake for the summer), but they are formidable targets. A stealthy approach, and acute dry fly skills are necessary to fool these fish. Bring your patience, a long fine leader, and your A-game. When the wind picks up, it’s time for a change of venue. 
Yellowstone Lake
If you’re traipsing through Yellowstone this holiday weekend in search of trout with your fly rod, and your favorite summertime fishery hasn’t quite shaped up yet, Yellowstone Lake, and it’s increasing population of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout could be a great option. Explore the shoreline around Gull Point with some leeches and Callibaetis nymphs stripped slowly. Floating lines will work. Intermediate sinking lines will work a bit better. Keep an eye out for the first Callibaetis hatches and spinner falls of the season on calm mornings, and the rising Cutts that come with them. 
Gardner River
Look for Salmonflies to rev up in this Yellowstone River tributary once conditions warm this week. 
Northeast Corner – Slough Cr, Lamar River, Soda Butte Cr
Back to the waiting game for these three cutthroat fishing icons. This last weather system brought flows back up, and delayed the start of consistent fishing. Slough remains the best of the bunch for water clarity, and will likely be the first to start fishing when things warm a bit. Expect to see PMD’s, caddis, Salmonflies, and Gray Drakes when they do. 
Yellowstone River – in YNP
The classic dry fly water above Chittenden Bridge remains closed until July 15. 
Lower canyon stretches remain a good option for adventurous anglers looking to fish nymphs and streamers. 
Flows are dropping and clarity is improving here daily. Green Drakes are hatching now, and Salmonflies are right on their heels. 
Indian, Obsidian, and Panther Creeks 
If you have the kids in tow – or you just love fishing for Brook Trout- grab some high riding attractor dry flies like a #14 Royal Wulff and a #10 Stimulator, and head to these small stream gems in the Northwest corner of the Park. Be sure to bring some bug spray as the mosquitoes love Brook Trout streams too. 
Gallatin River – in YNP
The upper Park stretch of the Gallatin is running clear and cold. Warm weather will bring the start of good caddis activity, and maybe the first consistent dry fly fishing. The big stoneflies are still down the road a bit -figuratively and literally. 
Gallatin River – outside YNP
This week’s stormy weather brought color back to the Gallatin River below the Taylor’s Fork. Clarity should be back to normal by the weekend, and fishing will be good with a combination of caddis, PMD’s, and the first of the big stoneflies driving the fishing.  

Hebgen Lake – by Steve Hoovler

Chironomid and Callibaetis nymph fishing has been consistent (when the weather allows) at all levels of the water column. Fish continue to patrol skinny bank water in the arms as the lake level is nearly at full pond. The first mornings and evenings with consistent numbers of rising fish since the early midge hatches will likely happen this week if the winds cooperate. You can also expect to see a strong emergence of fireworks around 10:00pm on Saturday night.

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 6/25/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 6/25/2020


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

Mother Nature showed her true colors this week providing us a mix of weather including rain, high sun, clear skies and 80 plus degree temperatures; it felt pretty darn nice to spend our days on the river soaking it all in. The end of June is near, which means a few things – salmonflies will be hatching on the Madison very soon, the Fork is still fishing pretty darn well and our 4th annual Anniversary party is coming up next week on June 27th. For 2020, we have moved the party online via Instagram and are now calling it the Community Appreciation Celebration. We have a great line up, click the link above and check it out! 

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 West Side of YNP, the Madison in Montana and the Missouri River in Craig are all fishing quite well. 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

Summer weather has really set in and the Fork continues to fish well from top to bottom.  The scenery continues to be outstanding with greenery in the valley and some snow still in the Tetons, wildflowers are still part of the landscape.  If fishing the Henry’s Fork is on your list, now is a great time to float one of its many sections or take a long walk with your fly rod looking for a worthy contender.

In the upper river, the Box Canyon remains a solid bet for those wanting to do some nymph fishing, at this time of year small beads and perdigón style flies reign supreme.  At times the water gets a little off color, depending on which part of the dam its coming from, if you notice dirty water, try a fly that has a fluorescent hot spot or a couple of bright thread wraps behind the bead.  From now through July, be sure to have some golden stone dry fly imitations handy as they can be present on any day.

The Railroad Ranch is in play and fishing well.  Lots of bugs out there at the moment: multiple sizes of caddis, pmds, flavs, sallies, green drakes, and brown drakes are all on the menu, so it pays to be prepared for just about anything.  Don’t forget your mayfly spinners and emergers, both stages of the life cycle are present throughout the day.  A size 12-14 rusty spinner is a good choice for that first cast if you are unsure what your target is eating. 

The canyon country reaches from the bottom of the Ranch on down to Ashton are a good bet right now with consistent action on large dries and rubberlegs or bead heads hung below.  These sections are nice places to spend a hot summer day, the water is highly oxygenated and it’s easier to find shade here than in other river sections.

The waters below Ashton are now on their last leg, and every day that the temperature sees 80 degrees will have a lasting effect on the water temps.  Look for fishing action to turn more to spinner falls in the mornings and evenings, some emergences in the morning hours, and stoneflies in the afternoons.  Pmds, caddis, flavs, gray drakes, and golden stones are all still on the menu down here.

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The flows at Hebgen have diminished to 560 CFS as Hebgen Lake is still not quite full. 560 cfs is pretty low for this time of year but fortunately the tributaries are kicking in enough water to keep things a bit higher in the Madison Valley. The Upper has been fihsing pretty darn well overall. There are lots of salmonfly nymphs making their way to the banks and caddis are hatching in decent numbers. The dry fly fishing is right around the corner, that’s for sure. Fishing subsurface with rubber leg stone flies, biot stones, San Juan Worms, Prince Nymphs, tungsten PT’s, olive Arizona Hare’s Ear, Dips and of course a smattering of different perdigon nymph patterns is the best route. Fishing caddis late in the evening might be a solid play right now as the warmer weather earlier in the week had them hatching in decent numbers. 
Salmonflies? Yes, there have been a few fluttering around down near Ennis but nothing really to speak of just yet. Stay tuned!

Missouri River – by Joe Moore

The Missouri river flows bounced back up this past week to 9750 cfs at Holter Dam. The dry fly fishing isn’t quite as good as it was last week, but deep nymphing has bee solid. Greg Falls will be on the river nearly everyday for the next several months but he still has a few openings for the 2020 season. Give us a shout if you’re headed up that way. The theme up north has been mayfly nymphs fished about 7 feet to the split shot. 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. Dead drifting a crayfish pattern is always something to keep mind as well.

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

This is a transitional time in YNP fisheries. Some waters are beginning to warm, many are shaping up, and a few are still running high and cold. The forecast looks warm and dry for the next week. S, expect to see this trend continue, as we start to get into the summertime groove.

Firehole River
As we watch the equinox fade in the rear view mirror, and shift gears into summertime, it’s time to let the Firehole rest and recover until water temps begin to drop again in the fall. 
It was a shorter than usual Spring season this year on the Firehole, but it was a good one. We saw excellent hatches of PMD and Baetis mayflies, some as recently as this past week, and both quantity and quality of fish were a bit better than average. 
For those diehard Firehole Fanatics out there that just can’t get enough, consider looking for early am and late pm spinner falls and caddis activity, and limit your sessions to the upper river above Midway Geyser Basin where water temps are a bit cooler. 

Madison River – in YNP
The Madison in YNP will also have good spinner falls and caddis activity in the mornings and evenings in the coming week, especially when conditions are calm and warm. Look at any of the smooth glassy pieces of water between Madison Junction and the West gate to find rising fish and technical dry fly situations. Some nice fish remain in the river (before sliding back down to Hebgen Lake for the summer), but they are formidable targets. A stealthy approach, and acute dry fly skills are necessary to fool these fish. Bring your patience, a long fine leader, and your A-game. When the wind picks up, it’s time for a change of venue. 

Lewis River
If you’re looking for another technical dry fly venue to test your skills (euphemism for get your ass kicked) the Lewis River below Lewis Lake just might check that box. Explore the spring creek waters below Lewis Falls in the mornings and evenings, and hunt for a large brown trout rising in the slow, winding currents. Be prepared to see PMD’s, Green Drakes, and Mosquitoes, and plan accordingly for each. 

Gardner River
If you’re interested in playing around with some Euro Nymphing techniques, and you don’t mind a moderate amount of adventure-wading, the Gardner River between Mammoth Hot Springs and the YNP North Entrance is a perfect spot right now. Large, heavy nymphs fished tight in any of this river’s countless pieces of pocket water are very effective. Stonefly activity is just beginning here, and the fish are eager to eat a large nymph, providing lots of opportunity to practice those drifts and get instant positive feedback when things go right. 

Shoshone Lake
If you’re looking for a little wearily season backcountry fishing, Shoshone lake has good opportunities to strip streamers in shallow bays for cruising Lake trout. Check out the DeLacy Creek trail for a short-ish 3 mile stroll. Bring an intermediate sinking line, a nice double haul, some gaudy streamers (uglier the better), and plenty of bug spray. 
Remember to always be prepared in the backcountry with bearspray and sound backcountry travel practices. 

Northeast Corner – Slough Cr, Lamar River, Soda Butte Cr
We’re close, but as Lewis and Clark said on that historic journey to the Pacific Ocean, gazing slack-jawed at their first glimpse of jagged, snow-capped Rocky Mountains ahead, we’re not there yet. 
Water levels are still a bit high, temps are still a bit cold, and clarity is still a bit cloudy to consider these fisheries in the next week. 
Stay tuned. We should be in business here by the first week of July. 

Yellowstone River – in YNP
The classic dry fly water above Chittenden Bridge remains closed until July 15. 
Lower canyon stretches remain a good option for adventurous anglers looking to fish nymphs and streamers. 
Flows are dropping and clarity is improving here daily. Green Drakes are hatching now, and Salmonflies are right on their heels. 

Hebgen Lake – by Steve Hoovler

With calmer, warmer conditions on the horizon, fishing will pick up on Hebgen Lake. Early season is a fun time to explore the shorelines of the lake, either from a boat or on foot. The lake is at its highest level of the season right now. In many places that means the water is up into the willows, and flush against the banks. Early hatches of Callibaetis mayflies and midges will often tempt large fish to patrol the shallow shore lines, and targeting them with a dry fly or sight-fished nymph or leech is a seriously challenging and rewarding game to play. Look for calm mornings. Do your best to position yourself with the sun at an advantageous angle so you have the best chances of seeing these spooky fish. Patience and stealth are crucial. Be prepared to spook far more than you get to cast to. Anyone with any saltwater experience will feel right at home.

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

Big Sky Anglers Fishing Report 06/04/2020

Big Sky Anglers Fishing Report 06/04/2020

June is a month that we all look forward to and it’s finally here. It’s a month of anticipation, of hatches, of long days on the river, of beers at the boat ramp and sunsets that make everyone stop and watch because they don’t last long enough. It’s the true beginning of the trout season in the northern Rockies. Read on for an update on the shop, guided fishing trips, Yellowstone National Park’s opening date, the Golden Stone Inn, and of course a fishing report.

The fly shop is OPEN daily from 8am to 7pm. As always, we are selling flies, offering advice and answering phone calls. We are also booking trips for this season and running a few guides down on the Henry’s Fork in Idaho, the West Side of YNP, the Madison in Montana as well as on the Missouri River in Craig, Montana. When you walk in our doors, we will be wearing masks of some kind, and, while you won’t see our smiling faces, rest assured we are stoked to see you and offer our advice on all things fly fishing. We have set up the shop to be a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer, nitrile gloves and masks if you choose to wear one. Fishing reports are always up online here, and via our newsletter, so read on for our take on the upcoming week on the water here in Yellowstone Country.

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows

Henry’s Fork of the Snake
@Island Park (Box Canyon) 680 CFS @Ashton Dam 1890 CFS @St. Anthony 3630 CFS.

It’s June on the Henry’s Fork this is prime time, and the river is fishing well from top to bottom. This is the first year in many that we have some openings this month, usually a period booked well in advance. It’s a great year to experience guided fishing on the Fork in June if you haven’t yet. In the upper reaches, mule’s ears flowers are just starting to bloom, turning acres of wildllands into spectacular displays of white, yellow, and green. Everywhere it is green and the high mountains remain laden with snow. These are some of the most beautiful days of the year when the weather is fair, and the parade of hatches that is on the horizon is something to experience.
Stoneflies can be found river-wide, salmonflies in the high country, some remnants below, and Goldens starting down low, soon to be throughout the system. While much of the heavy stonefly hatches will begin to fade this week, we will see the coming of the already present pmds and caddis hatches. As trout begin to turn their attention to the smaller food source, they will begin to spread out and occupy water outside of the winter water they’ve been digging into lately. The river is still unseasonably low above the confluence of Falls River so be observant during hatches and look for surface feeders during periods of heavy bug activity.
Usually, the week following the salmonfly hatch shifts things generally back into nymph fishing and no doubt this week will have some of that. However these low flows should have the discerning dry fly angler looking for noses at appropriate times. Other anglers will do well to note the shift in food source. PMDs and caddis are the bugs that usher in the great hatches we are close to experiencing.


Madison River
@West Yellowstone 908 CFS @Hebgen 2120CFS @Kirby 2910 CFS @Varney 4440 CFS


The flows out of Hebgen Dam are at flushing flows right now, which basically means the river system is getting cleaned out of all the fine sediment allowing for insects and spawning fish to thrive. Below the West Fork the Madison river is blown out with mud. Above the West Fork the river is more green than brown and still fishing. The river is really big right now, be careful wade fishing; there is hardly a reason to wade right now as fish are right on the bank! Fishing has been pretty darn good with big stone flies, dead drifted black bouface streamers, biot stones, San Juan Worms, Prince Nymphs and of course a smattering of different perdigon nymph patterns. For 2020, we have stocked several new perdigon and other Euro-style patterns, so please stop by and check them out. Bring your sunscreen and expect the Madison to get even higher if we receive some rains over the coming weekend. There is even more snow in the forecast early next week and we would have to say that the Madison is going to be blown out below the West Fork for another few weeks.

Note: There are still trout spawning Between the lakes and around the channels in the rest of the river; as always, leave those spawning trout alone and give them a break. 

Missouri River
@Toston 17500 CFS @ Holter 5110 CFS Little Prickly Pear 165 CFS Dearborn River 661 CFS @Cascade 6090CFS

Joe had a short run of guide trips in Craig last week and found solid fishing from top to bottom. There were even a few PMDs starting to show up but nothing really to write home about yet. There are dead zones during the day, but overall, fishing was great. Thanks to those who joined us up north this spring on the Mighty Mo’. Greg Falls will be on the river nearly everyday for the next few months and we’ll receive reports from him each week. Flows in the tributaries have dropped and barring any huge rain storms on The Front, the Dearborn should continue to drop. The Canyon has cleared up quite a bit and the river down there is green and clearing daily. Pink bead and fire bead anything are still fooling a few fish each day as is a SJW or the ever sinking Wire Worm. Larger #12 Pheasant Tails as well as smaller nymphs are also working with the emergence of PMDs. Sowbugs? Yes…they seem to always work. When in doubt, fish a sow bug. On the streamer side of things, experiment with flash vs natural/subtle options as the fish seem to change moods day to day; white is never a bad choice and neither is a Thin Mint. Early summer on the Mo can be a great time to find hungry brown trout in shallow slow water looking for a big meal. There have been some big brown caught over the past few weeks, Joe had one of his anglers loose a two footer at the net a few days ago. We always keep a single dry rod rigged at all times, why not right? While those slow inside bends are still fishy, you will find trout in all the sexy spots from here on out. Later in the day a big dry with a tunghead jig dropped off about two to three feet will produce; it makes for a nice change of pace from chasing the bobber, that’s for sure!


Yellowstone National Park
Firehole River 564 CFS
The West Gate to YNP is open! We have been running trips on the Madison and Firehole. There are caddis and PMDs hatching and fish are eating dry flies on the Firehole. The Firehole is still tea colored and the mosquitoes are bad. A few days ago Grizzly Bear killed a bison just upstream of Mule Shoe Bend…google it. But don’t let that stop you, there are fish eating flies both on top and below the surface. Stop by the shop for the most up to date fishing report for the Firehole.


Hebgen Lake
Chironomids remain the name of the game on Hebgen, but you might also start seeing a few first generation Callibaetis popping in limited numbers. Deciphering whether the fish want one or the other should be conducted as a joyful experiment. You should know in short order which one they want based on a strange, tugging sensation at the end of your flyline. Shucks! Pay attention to those and any actual insects you may see as that will be your clue as to what size pupal imitation(s) to fish. If chironomids aren’t hatching or working for you, stripping/trolling a bugger or leech pattern on a sinking line chosen to match the water depth and retrieve speed is the way to go. Hard to beat the Denny Rickard’s patterns for this sort of prospecting, especially early and late in the day.

Henry’s Lake
Early season patterns still persist on Henry’s. Aquatic vegetation is far from established, and prospecting the usual early season zones with leech/bugger patterns, either stripped at a good pace on faster sinking lines, or fished balanced style, slow and low, under an indicator is going to be a great place to start. Of course, if chironomids begin showing in many numbers, match the size and color and then dial in the depth.

Big Sky Anglers Fishing Report – May 28, 2020

Big Sky Anglers Fishing Report – May 28, 2020

The month of May has flown right on by, that’s for sure, and it’s certainly been like any other May we’ve known. Slowly but surely we are starting to find some added sense of normalcy. The fly shop is now OPEN daily from 9am to 5pm. As always, we are selling flies, answering phone calls, booking trips for this season and running a few guide trips down in Idaho as well as on the Missouri River in Craig, Montana. When you walk in our doors, we will be wearing masks of some kind, and, while you won’t see our smiling faces, rest assured we are stoked to see you and offer our advice on all things fly fishing. We have set up the shop to be a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer, rubber gloves and masks if you choose to wear one. For now, we are limiting the number of people in the shop to ten. Starting June 1st, we will allow more people in the shop at one time. Fishing reports are always up online here, and via our newsletter, so read on for our take on the upcoming week on the water here in Yellowstone Country.

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows


Yellowstone National Park

Due to COVID-19 related closures, for the first time in nearly 25 years, not one person we know fished the Firehole or Madison on Opening Day – the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. One can only imagine what it’s like up in the Lower Geyser Basin. Rumor has it there is Grizzly sow with cubs at 7 Mile Bridge on the Madison River; fortunately for them, they are being left alone to move about the world as they see fit.

Madison River

@West Yellowstone 801 CFS

@Hebgen 1080 CFS

@Kirby 1430 CFS@Varney 1970 CFS

Memorial Day Weekend brought snow and rain to what had been a dry Spring thus far here in southwest Montana and eastern Idaho. Our local snowpack jumped back up into the 95th percentile which is always good news this time of the year. The rivers and creeks tightened up from the cold overnight temps and things have cleared up a quite a bit. It’s been one of those weeks to say you were here, to have fished the Madison during runoff and caught a solid glimpse of what she can offer anglers in the springtime. Blue Winged Olives are around in decent numbers, March Browns have been seen as well. Nymphing has been pretty darn good with big stone flies, dead drifted black bouface streamers, biot stones, San Juan Worms, Prince Nymphs and of course a smattering of different perdigon nymph patterns. For 2020, we have stocked several new perdigon and other Euro-style patterns, so please stop by and check them out. By the end of this week we will see our first truly warm days of the year with forecasts in the high 70’s and low 80s in the Madison Valley. Bring your sunscreen and expect the Madison to get a little off color over the next several days…we are due for a full blown muddy Madison, next week is likely the timeframe. Lakes anyone?

Note: There are still trout spawning Between the lakes and around the channels in the rest of the river; as always, leave those spawning trout alone and give them a break. 

Henry’s Fork

@Island Park (Box Canyon) 446 CFS

@Ashton Dam 2020 CFS

@St. Anthony 3170 CFS

The Henry’s Fork is in great shape, with both water clarity and flows at the moment. Not running as high as it usually does at this time of year changes some of the fishing dynamics but certainly lends itself to the trout being more willing to rise, river wide.


The Box Canyon is fishing well at the moment with nymphs and salmonflies have now made an appearance. We’ll be looking for more of this activity as this week progresses as we have great stonefly weather in the forecast! Taking a run down the Box at these flows is a sure fire way to scrape a little of the unwanted fiberglass burrs from the bottom of your boat as well as put a bend in your fly rods. There has been a scatter of dry fly fishing throughout the rest of the upper river with both caddis and march browns present when the conditions are right. For the most part, however, this week will steer most anglers towards chasing salmonflies in the canyon country and lower river.

This is a great week to walk in and fish some of the canyons above and below Mesa Falls as well as enjoy the float sections on down to Ashton. The lower river above and below Ashton Reservoir remains the busiest fishery in the area, but should continue to produce good fishing on both stonefly dries as well as nymphs. It’s getting busy down there so please remember to be courteous of the water other folks are fishing. The Henry’s Fork is a diverse river with lots of different ways to play. It pays to be observant not only of what the fish are doing here but also to what other anglers are doing so that you don’t unknowingly disturb another angler’s experience. When in doubt, take a break and have a good look around…there are usually rewards to be found.

Missouri River

@Toston 8930 CFS

@Holter 4920 CFS

Little Prickly Pear 272 CFS

Dearborn River 915 CFS

@Cascade 6450 CFS

Joe left for the Missouri on Wednesday and will be up north for the next week. Flows in the tributaries have dropped and barring any huge rain storms on The Front, the Dearborn should continue to drop. The Canyon has cleared up quite a bit and one will find a few March Browns still left in this reach. The Missouri is still pretty spawny is some places, but more and more rainbows are coming off the spawn each week. Leave them alone and let them be, the river gods will look kindly down on you later. Pink bead and fire bead anything are still fooling a few fish each day as it a SJW or the ever sinking Wire Worm. Larger #12 Pheasant Tails as well as small BWO nymphs are also working with the emergence of March Browns and Beatis. Sowbugs…yes…they seem to always work. When in doubt, fish a sow bug. On the streamer side of things, experiment with flash vs natural/subtle options as the fish seem to change moods day to day; white is never a bad choice. Spring on the Mo can be a great time to find hungry brown trout in shallow slow water looking for a big meal. We always keep a single dry rod rigged at all times, why not right? While those slow inside bends are still fishy, you will find trout in all the sexy spots from here on out. Later in the day a big dry with a tunghead jig dropped off about two to three feet will produce; it makes for a nice change of pace from chasing the bobber, that’s for sure!

Hebgen Lake

By now, the ice is long gone and our annual spring hatches of Chironomids are in full swing. There is plenty of fun too be had for the devoted stillwater angler, as well as those new to the lake game. If you see fish rising these days, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ve discovered a chironomid hatch. Be aware, however, that those “Rises” are most likely fish feeding on emergent pupae, just beneath or right in the surface. And, know that there is likely a lot of subsurface feeding going on if you see fresh chironomid shucks on the water, but few or no fish are rising. Speaking of shucks, pay attention to those and any actual insects you may see as that will be your clue as to what size pupal imitation(s) to fish. Remember that you may see a few REALLY BIG ONES and a bunch of smaller ones, and that on any given day the fish may be looking for one or the other. If chironomids aren’t working for you, stripping/trolling a bugger or leech pattern on a sinking line chosen to match the water depth and retrieve speed is always a good decision.

Henry’s Lake

This year, opening day on Henry’s was not smiled upon by Mother Nature. With temps in the 30s, a strong north wind, and sideways snow, only the heartiest of souls made it out on the water. Reports were few, but those who found success did so primarily with leech/bugger patterns, either stripped at a good pace on faster sinking lines, or fished balanced style, slow and low, under an indicator. The warm weather we have on the way should really fire up some vegetation growth and insect activity in the shallows, so this could be a great weekend to get out there.

Big Sky Anglers Fishing Report – May 21, 2020

Big Sky Anglers Fishing Report – May 21, 2020

Hello there from West Yellowstone, MT – the Trout Capital of the World! We are starting to wrap our minds around what this season will look like, even though it seems to be changing by the day. The one thing we do know is that flexibility is key and at some point just going with the flow is getting us through our daily routine here at the fly shop. Read on for our take on this week’s fishing outlook!

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows


Yellowstone National Park

Closed for now and the fishing season will open as normal on May 23rd, 2020. At this time the West Gate of YNP will be closed until June1st, 2020. The only way to fish the Firehole will be to drive in from Jackson Hole. 

Madison River

@West Yellowstone 988 cfs and rising

@Hebgen 1060 CFS and rising

@Kirby 1810 CFS and rising

@Varney 2870 CFS and…rising


The upper Madison River had been fishing pretty well so far this Spring. We are now seeing big pushes of snowmelt from top to bottom; expect the river to be brown throughout the entire system. Between the lakes will be clear on river left below Cabin Creek and Quake is nearly 100% brown. Could you catch a few fish right now? You bet! Is it going to be the best day you ever had, probably not. Fishing a rubber legs and a worm or twitching a sparkle minnow in the pockets and along the softer edges is your best bet.


There are still a ton of trout spawning Between the lakes and around the channels in the rest of the river; as always, leave those spawning trout alone and give them a break. 

Henry’s Fork

@Island Park (Box Canyon) 446 CFS

@Ashton Dam 1640 CFS

@St. Anthony 3130 CFS

Spring has sprung on the Henry’s Fork and in the lower reaches flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and there are a few salmonflies crawling around in the green grass. Happy New Year! These next 6 weeks are prime time in the lower elevation sections and we look forward to them every year, salmonflies mark the official kick off to our dry fly season. Fishing has been good down here lately with lots of great stuff to come in the coming weeks.


The upper river is still running cool but is clear and fishing well. Good conditions in the Box Canyon and the canyon sections below Harriman State Park (still closed until June 15th) give plenty of opportunity to those who don’t want to be part of the madness in the lower elevations. Nymph fishing is still the norm up here, but salmonflies aren’t far away now, likely to start when the weather warms back up after the weekend.

Overall, the river is running a little lower than usual for this time of year, system-wide, as a freshet was released from the Island Park Dam some weeks ago to encourage mobilization of sediment. This is ultimately a good thing, but now they are refilling the reservoir and it’s likely we won’t have high water during stoneflies. That said, the water clarity is great and fishing has been solid.


Idaho just lifted the ban on non-resident license sales last Saturday, May 16th and effectively opened the fishing up to visiting anglers by doing so. We still have some guides available during prime dates on the Fork, if you’re interested in experiencing this great river, please give us a call at the shop.

Missouri River

@Holter 4880 CFS

Prickly Pear 280 CFS and rising

Dearborn River 1530 CFS and rising

Greg Falls has been on the water quite a bit here in the last week guiding some of his long time Montana resident anglers. He has been all over the entire river from the Dam down to Cascade. The Missouri is pretty spawny is some places, but more and more rainbows are coming off the spawn each week. Leave them alone and let them be, the river gods will look kindly down on you later. The Prickly Pear and Dearborn are tossing in some color so SJWs and the wire worm are playing a big part in one’s day. Pink bead and fire bead anything are still fooling a few fish each day. Larger #12 Pheasant Tails as well as small BWO nymphs are also working with the emergence of March Browns and Beatis. Swung bug and trout Spey game is small streamers. Experiment with flash vs natural/subtle options as the fish seem to change moods day to day. Spring on the Mo’ can be a great time to find hungry brown trout in shallow slow water looking for a big meal. We always keep a single dry rod rigged at all times, why not right? While those slow inside bends are still fishy, you will find trout in all the sexy spots from here on out. Later in the day a big dry with a tunghead jig dropped off about two to three feet will produce; it makes for a nice change of pace from chasing the bobber, that’s for sure!