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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big Sky Anglers is OPEN from 8:00am to 6:00pm through this Sunday. After that we plan to close up for inventory for a bit, but if you need anythign, be sure to give us a call and we can organize for a curbisde pickup for you. We will pick up with winter hours after that, so stay tuned for that. Our fly shop remains a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer and masks if you don’t have one, we are still under Governor’s mandate to wear them when 6′ of social distance isn’t possible indoors; the staff will continue wearing masks for the future. Stop on by, say hello and we’ll get you taken care of. Most importantly, stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy your time outside.

Take care and fish on,
~ The BSA Crew

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Island Park Dam:  176 cfs Ashton Dam:  900 cfs

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

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

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

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

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

Yellowstone National Park – by Matt Klara

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

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

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

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

Madison River – by Jonathan Heames

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

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

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

The Lakes – by Matt Klara

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

River Flows and the Weather Forecast

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

Montana River Flows
Idaho River Flows
West Yellowstone Weather Forecast

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

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

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

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

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

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, 9/17/2020

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report, 9/17/2020

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

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

That cold weather last week made for some difficult fishing around our neck of the woods to some extent. The Madison in MT took a solid shot in the arm, but the Henry’s Fork, Firehole and Madison in YNP woke up a little bit. Those 17 degree morning temps definitely made fish begin to change their feeding patterns, that’s for sure. The smoke has made it’s way back to southwest Montana again; things are dry as dirt around these parts so please do your part and put those campfires out! As much as we all enjoy watching fames dart around while sipping on a cold beverage, it would be best to not even dare light a campfire during the next few weeks. Our hearts go out to all the folks on the West Coast dealing with an epic fire season; they need rain in a big way. 
The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 8:30pm, seven days a week. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho and the Madison in Montana are having some banner days. The east side of YNP is in shape(watch out for rain storms) and the West side has now cooled off; it’s time to fish the Firehole and the Madison. The fly shop is a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer and masks if you don’t have one, we are still under Governor’s mandate to wear them when 6′ of social distance isn’t possible indoors; the staff will continue wearing masks for the unforeseen future. Our fishing report is written on the whiteboard right outside the door for your enjoyment, but as always, the freshest report is inside the doors of the fly shop. Stop on by, say hello and we’ll get you taken care of. 

Take care and read on, 
~ Joe

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Though Fall on the Fork is one of the more desirable times to be there, at the moment, the Henry’s Fork is experiencing a few issues that anglers will want to pay attention to.  Currently, the river at the top of the Box Canyon is experiencing a turbidity issue that has to do with a recent and quick turn over of the Island Park Reservoir combined with shoreline erosion from the last blast of north wind last week.  The river is coming out of the dam fairly dirty at the moment, and is a shocking sight if one is not prepared.  The good news is that it is clearing slowly and the turbidity is caused by vegetative matter, not dirt, so the material settles out over distance, leaving a number of good fishing options still available.  Flows are dropping quickly out of Island Park Reservoir, the river is a changing environment, so stay tuned.  
The Box Canyon has not been fishing like its usual self this week, but hope is on the horizon, it doesn’t take much visibility for things to turn around in there, especially when the flows are low.  Be ready with rubberlegs, leeches, streamers, and the usual suspects like zebra midges, mayfly nymphs, and caddis pupa patterns.
The Railroad Ranch has also been affected by the dirty water, but is still providing some opportunity for anglers that are looking for it.  Baetis, pseudos, caddis, and mahogany duns should be your focus, but be prepared for the odd callibaetis, pmd, flying ant and hoppertunity.  When times are tough, find the springs and focus your efforts on the consistent and stable conditions found there.
The canyon country below Riverside campground is fishing well and turbidity isn’t much of an issue from this point downstream.  Great dry/dropper fishing can be found down here on most days and for those willing to throw a streamer around, this is a great time of year.  BFE’s and copper zonkers are at the top of our list.
The river below Ashton Reservoir has been fishing fairly well, again the turbidity isn’t too concerning down here.  The weeds haven’t been bad lately, but as the river drops be prepared for a change in this situation.  We’ve been having some pretty decent hopper/dropper fishing down there and some fun streamer moments.  Weather conditions have been variable and anglers need to be ready to change with them, the onset of scuzzy weather will really liven things up down there.

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Firehole River

Water temps on the Firehole are looking good especially in the upper reaches, and during the morning and early afternoon hours. The best fishing on bright days has come from swinging soft hackles during the cool mornings and prospecting with hoppers once things warm a bit, usually by midday. 
A shot of cooler, wetter weather is heading our way for the weekend which bodes well for fall hatches of Baetis mayflies on the Firehole. Saturday looks like the best bet to see a concentrated emergence. Daytime high temps are forecasted to be in the low 50’s. So, expect to see some bugs hatching by 1:00 or 2:00pm. 
Keep in mind the Firehole is an exceptional place to get your ass handed to you by 10-12” fish in the fall. Be sure to bring your A-game, complete with a stealthy approach, long fine leaders (12’ 6X), well executed dry fly presentations, and a full lineup of techy dry flies and emergers. 
Swing by the shop for our best recommendations on any and all of the above. 

Madison River – in YNP

Fish by fish, day by day, the Madison in the park is looking more and more like a world class spawning tributary as browns and rainbows from Hebgen Lake begin to sniff their way upstream in preparation for the upcoming spawning season. Each day will have more fish in the river than the last, and this weekend’s scuzzy weather will provide the perfect conditions to head in and see for yourself just how the early run of fish is doing. Don’t expect to see a ton of fish just yet, but the ones that are in there should be active. 

Gallatin River – in YNP

We’ve seen some downright cold mornings around Big Sky Country in the last week, and the upper Gallatin is routinely the coldest spot in the area. However, fish have been active once temps warm a bit, and afternoon hopper fishing has been a blast here. When fish aren’t on the hoppers, there’s been a consistent nymph bite with small Baetis and Caddis imitations. Look for good hatches of baetis mayflies here as well on any scuzzy afternoons. 

Gardner River

The Madison in the Park is far from the only spawning tributary in the area that gets a run of brown trout. The Gardner river sees a few nice browns every year that move up from the Yellowstone to spawn later in the fall, and this is a fun time to chase one of those early runners with hoppers on warm, sunny afternoons. If you happen to hit it on a scuzzy day, then you’d be better served to dig out the streamer box and throw some meat. 

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The Madison is sitting at 890 cfs out of Hebgen; flat lined is always a good place to be. Hoppers are still on the menu after 2pm, but we are getting closer to the end of their reign. This weekend looks to be on the cloudy side of things, have those BWO’s ready to go. On the cloudy days, we have been dead drifting streamers, rubber legs, various dips, red SJWs and smaller mayfly nymphs. There are still decent caddis around as well, and if you can float a #16 Caddis dry fly and get it in all the right spots, you will raise a few fish, that’s for sure. Those caddis patterns are better left to the nymphing game; #14 and #16 shop vac and guide dips are our go to flies. Ants are still a solid player right now as well. Streamer fishing is a great option on the chilly mornings, but the fish seem a little shy and unwilling to grab them on a regular basis. That will change here soon enough. 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 enough 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. 
For those anglers on foot in the Wade Stretch, the key will be to cover water and not spend too much time in one particular place. We find the nymphing in the wade stretch to be pretty good right now with caddis and midge patterns. As for rising fish, the morning bite is not that great, but those fish are still looking for ants and sometimes hoppers in the afternoon. For those willing to risk it all and wade out into the big river, you will find fish willing to rise in the afternoons out amongst the big boulders and slicks. Be careful out there! The Madison’s mood seems to change throughout the entire river, if one stretch isn’t fishing well then another probably is. Keep moving and slow down your pace when the fish are biting, speed up when they aren’t. 

River Flows and the Weather Forecast

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

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 8/20/20

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 8/20/20

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

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

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