Weather, Water Conditions, & Fishing Report
Here's a few links to keep you informed with up to date info.
October 27th, 2016
Baetis and midges continue to emerge on the Madison below Quake. For those willing to deal with fine tippets and small flies in cold weather, the rewards are great. Big fish can disguise themselves well when feeding on small mayflies. Large brown trout may sip near the bank and go unnoticed. You might be fishing streamers and find no reason to switch to dry flies, because you think that only small fish are rising. It takes years of fishing to be able to discern the size of a fish from certain rise forms. When fishing the Madison below Quake, you can be sure that big fish will rise in a heavy Baetis hatch.
We have rain in the forecast once again. It should send a fresh run of spawners up the Madison in the Park. The spawners will be holding throughout the Madison, lower Gibbon and lower Firehole. At this point in the season, you can try some of your wilder flies, like gaudy streamers or bright soft hackles. The park closes on November 6th, so be sure to get some fishing in while you can.
The fishing on the Firehole remains the same. Lots of fish are rising to Baetis and midges. The slower runs and riffles are always more productive when fishing hatches of these insects. Seek out those slower areas. It can be rather cold up on the Firehole during this time of year, be sure to have your flies and leader prepared so you're not digging around your vest or tying on tippet in the cold.
The rivers in the Lamar Valley have been off color, and will likely stay off color with the coming precipitation.
The Henry's Fork is still running incredibly low. But there are some Baetis hatching and fish rising.
October 20th, 2016
The fishing on the Madison in the Park has been up and down. On some days, anglers are catching several spawners, on others, they're just getting a few bumps. Crowds are finally starting to slow down, though you will still see a few anglers out there. We have partly cloudy days in the forecast for the next few days. Fishing smaller, natural looking soft hackles, like the Full Dressed Pheasant Tail, or Baker's Hole Soft Hackle, may be the way to go. If you're fishing the Barns Holes or any other spawner hole, be sure to move through the hole in a timely manner, from top to bottom, whether you're nymphing, swinging or streamer fishing.
Baetis are hatching on the Madison below Quake daily. The few anglers that are down there have enjoyed the sights of rising fish, but catching them is no walk in the park. You'll need to get right up behind the fish to eliminate drag, then drop the fly directly in the fish's feeding lane. When there's so much food on the water, fish rarely move out of line to take flies. Baetis Sparkle Duns, Emergers, Cripples and Foam Nymphs are all good flies to have in your box.
The Madison in Between the Lakes has seen fine Baetis hatches and fine nymph fishing. Streamer fishing is always a great option here during October. The brown trout that live in Quake Lake often have an interesting, rugged look to them. Go try your luck with this elusive fish.
The flows out of Island Park Dam to the Henry's Fork have been raised from 70 CFS to 100 CFS. The thirty year average shows that flows typically are around 400 CFS during this week. The Henry's Fork usually has terrific emergences of fall Baetis. When the wind has been down, the hatches have been great, but it is difficult to keep fish from breaking you off in the weeds.
The Firehole has been good to the anglers that can pry themselves from the mighty Madison. Baetis and midges bring fish to rise on a daily basis. Soft hackles still catch fish for the angler that loves to swing, or the angler that is just starting out. Baetis will hatch best in the slowest water. If a day warms up a nicely, White Millers may be found.
October 13th, 2016
On the Madison, spawner fishing has gradually slowed down after the big rains we had several days ago. But with more rain in the forecast, we expect spawners to become more receptive to swinging flies once again. In the sun, there's no telling what spawners will do, but on an overcast morning, they're much more predictable. For some reason the crowds have been focused at Baker's Hole and Beaver Meadows. If you see a bunch of vehicles at these spots, head into the park. In every stretch of water between 7 Mile Bridge and the Gibbon and Firehole Falls, there will be spawners. Explore a bit, and you might find a pod of them. Zonkers, Sculpzillas, and Sparkle Minnows will help too.
The Firehole has had Baetis and White Millers hatching daily. It's hard to say when the bugs will be on the water with temperatures changing each day. It would be best to be on the water by 11 A.M. and hang around to see what happens. Soft hackles will be important to have on you, as they are the old, faithful fly on the Firehole. Skittering a White Miller X Caddis is also an efficient tactic. You'll want to have 5x for fishing the Baetis and White Millers, since those little fish on the Firehole aren't as naive as we like to think. Anywhere that you find rising fish on this river is a good spot to fish in the fall.
The Madison below Quake has been as reliable as ever for Baetis to hatch. Craig and Terry witnessed Baetis hatching under a blue bird sky yesterday. They had hatched well on many days prior to yesterday also. But the fish have been tough. You'll want to have Sparkle Duns, as well as floating nymphs on hand. A nice chunk of 5x at the end of your leader wouldn't hurt either.
The Lamar and Soda Butte are still kicking out a few mayflies. The Drake Mackerals are nearly hatched out, but Baetis continue to hatch. As always, keep an eye on the flows before heading over there. We believe both streams to be clear at the moment. You won't need to be fishing there before 11 A.M., if not later. It's quite cold in that valley, and those streams are fed by cold creeks. The Baetis Klinkhammer would be a fine fly of choice for the Northeast Corner during this time of year.
August 25th, 2016
Terrestrials continue to provide the bulk of the dry fly fishing on the Madison below Quake and Gallatin. Be sure to have plenty of hoppers, ants, and beetles, as well as our Royal Trude Cripples, which also make a great ant pattern. For subsurface fishing, $3 Dips, Micro Mayflies, and Zebra Midges should all produce well.
Hebgen Lake is still seeing some daily emergences of Callibaetis, though the hatch has been a little up and down in recent days. These bugs are getting smaller as we approach the end of the hatch for the season, so make sure to have Callibaetis patterns down to size 18. Don't be afraid to throw an ant as well, since these fish love ants, and will often take one opportunistically even when no naturals are present.
The Yellowstone River outside of Yellowstone National Park is still closed until further notice due to the ongoing fish kill there. We are still awaiting further information on this situation, but we will keep everyone informed as more information becomes available. If you have fished this river recently before the closure, please make certain to clean all boats and wading gear to help prevent further spread. If you've fished the Yellowstone in the Park or any river in the Lamar Valley, it's not a bad idea to play it safe and clean your gear. There has been no word of the parasite making its way into the park, but there is nothing preventing it from doing so.
The Northeast Corner of the Park continues to fish well with terrestrials, and Drake Mackerals are now making their annual fall appearance as well. Be sure to have a few of our Drake Mackeral Sparkle Duns and Cripples if you are fishing this area. Water levels continue to be below average for this time of year, so please be sure to play and release fish gently if you are fishing the Lamar, Soda Butte, or Slough Creek.
The Firehole and Madison in the Park are starting to cool down thanks to longer, colder nights, and we hope to see the fishing pick back up there over the next week. If you choose to venture in there, the morning hours should start to provide some fishing with nymphs, soft hackles, and terrestrials.
August 18th, 2016
Hebgen Lake has been fishing well every day that the wind has been down, but it has not been the normal, straight-forward gulper fishing. There might be several pods of fishing working on a given arm, but you might have to move around the lake to get to them. You might also find an arm where Callibaetis are hatching as far as the eye can see. As I've been saying for weeks, the fishing has been good, but unpredictable. If fish are not rising near you, search them out. The Callibaetis are now well smaller than size 16. You'll want to have duns, emergers, spinners, and nymphs in size 18. Ants are falling on the west bays of the lake on a regular basis. Most of the ones seen have been cinnamon ants. We've also spotted a fair number of damselflies cruising around. The Madison Arm will have trico spinner and trico dun fishing in the mornings. Do your best to keep fish out of the weeds, as the lake is low right now.
The Madison has been most productive in the float stretch, with ants. Fishing terrestrials in the wade section will likely be profitable, but will take some persistence. Big fish will be thinking about ants and beetles. Today is supposed to be overcast, so keep an eye out for Epeorus and Baetis. The sunny days have produced some evening spinner fishing. The hottest times of the day will be slow, but the mornings and evenings should produce. Carry a few small nymphs with you if you plan to fish all day.
The Gallatin continues to churn out solid fishing. The footlong rainbows in the water below the Taylor Fork have been generous for months on end. If you want to have some pleasant fishing, head to the Gallatin Canyon with a few spruce moths, beetles or hoppers. We've also seen a few caddis buzzing around here as well. There will be fisherman in many of the pullouts, be sure to cruise around and find yourself some space.
Yellowstone National Park is fishing with terrestrials wherever you can find cold water. The grasses have turned gold, and hoppers are on the rivers. Beetles and ants should be all over the Lamar Valley. Soda Butte is running skinny right now, be sure to take good care of any fish you catch. The Yellowstone above the falls has had incredible ups and downs. One day, the river will be blanketed with green drake spinners, the next, the river will be quiet. On a sunny day, a fish can usually be spotted and taken with a beetle or hopper. The alpine lakes will still be fishing with ants, beetles, hoppers, nymphs and streamers, but they will be getting cold before we know it, so fish them now. The brookie streams will be prime with hoppers at the moment, and the fish will be getting some fall color. Lava Creek, upper Gardner, Blacktail Deer Creek, and the upper Gibbon will be great spots to fish.
Cliff and Wade Lakes are sleeper choices right now. Hoppers, spruce moths, beetles and ants can all be found on their banks. If you have a boat, slap terrestrials along the lake shore. You can also fish leeches and nymphs if the fish don't want to come up.
The Henry's Fork has finally been dropped to normal flows. Honey ants have been appearing on most days and providing the best fishing of August. Callibaetis and tricos can be found in the slower water. The fishing can still be tough but anglers are having good shots on a daily basis. If you've been holding off on fishing the Ranch, now may be the time to start having a look at it.
Spruce moths, hoppers and ants have provided consistent dry fly fishing on the Madison below Quake. Epeorus spinners have been falling in big numbers during the mornings as well as evenings. We're enjoying fishing longevity on this river that had been absent for many years. The water used to get so warm by this time of year that terrestrial fishing was short lived each day, now fish will rise to terrestrials for several hours. Cold mornings may require some nymphing, but you can also work methodically along shore with a beetle or X caddis and bring up a few nice fish. Once the day warms up, fish will be looking for terrestrials. Some ants have been spotted on the Madison, but no large flights have been witnessed as of yet. The flows out of the dam have been bumped from 900 CFS to 1500 CFS. When the water is running this high, it's important to look for slow pockets, as places that you typically fish may be too swift for trout to feed efficiently. The high flows will open up new water that isn't productive when the water is lower.
Dry fly fishing is in full swing on Hebgen Lake. The Madison Arm and the Grayling Arm both saw epic Callibaetis emergences and spinner falls on Tuesday. Yesterday the wind came up early so there was little dry fly fishing. Today's weather is warm and calm, which will likely produce another day of terrific fishing. Anywhere on the Grayling Arm, Madison Arm, or the bays on the west shore will be a safe bet. Get out there and enjoy some of the most unique fly fishing on the planet.
The Yellowstone above the Falls got the memo and has delivered unpredictable fishing, like many other rivers this summer. We've had reports of blanket spinner falls of green and grey drake spinners. Sometimes the fish are gobbling them up, and other times they are apathetic. Fishing here has been great for some and poor for others, as of late it has been more consistent.
The best fishing on the Gallatin has been a product of spruce moths. You can find them in the beginning of the canyon just below the Taylor's Fork, all the way to the end of the canyon near Bozeman. The park stretch is reaching the end of its aquatic insect hatches. You can still find some caddis and a few spinners, but hoppers, beetles and ants will be your go to flies.
The Henry's Fork is coming around. It's still running high at 1350 CFS, but honey ants and Callibaetis have provided fish to cast to on the Ranch. There should also be tricos hatching, and you can fish beetles, ants and hoppers to the one time riser.
July 28th, 2016
The Madison below Quake still has caddis hatching during the day, but PMD fishing is likely on its way out. The evenings will have caddis fishing, with some spinners, but we're unsure how much Epeorus fishing we have left. Beetles, grasshoppers, ants and spruce moths will be our main focus for the next month. It will be interesting to see what happens at McAtee Bridge, and other grassy areas in the float stretch now that we have colder water this upcoming August. Beetle fishing is not to be overlooked. Some of the best fishermen in the area use beetles in strange places during the next few months. They're always worth experimenting with. We'll keep you posted on the way the Madison is fishing over the next several weeks. We're eager to see what will happen with this colder water.
The Gallatin has fished quite well this year. Pale Morning Dun hatches were terrific, with just enough green drakes to bring up larger fish. But we're likely over the hill and seeing less aquatic insects but more terrestrials as the days go on. Spruce moth fishing near Big Sky has just begun, and it will continue for the next few weeks. Catching a day when these terrestrials are very active can result in a terrific day of fishing. Make sure you have an imitation for them in your box if you're going to be fishing anywhere near spruce trees.
Callibaetis spinners have been heavy all over Hebgen Lake. Our guides and customers have had terrific days fishing dry flies and nymphs this week. On the Madison Arm, tricos have been emerging for a few weeks now. Gulper fishing is essentially upon us. Hopefully Callibaetis will intensify even more as we get into August.
The Northeast Corner has been on a runner for weeks. Soda Butte and the Lamar have been generous to many fisherman. Hatches of PMDs and the prevalence of hoppers have allowed anglers to bring fish up with relative ease. As more terrestrials become active, the party should continue all the way into fall mayfly hatches. When fishing in the Northeast Corner, try not to catch every fish in a given hole. At times, you might be able to, but we need to take it easy on them.
The Henry's Fork is still running high, but customers are having the best fishing here in a while. Callibaetis have been present; we have also had an appearance of the first flying ants. You'll still need to pick your spots to find rising fish, but at least the fishing is headed in the right direction.
July 21st, 2016
Temperatures have bumped up to the mid 80s for a few days. The Madison will fish from morning until early afternoon, then again in the evening. PMDs and caddis are hatching in the AM, while Epeorus and caddis hatch in the PM. The calm, warm weather has been perfect for spinner activity. Epeorus and PMD spinner falls have occurred in the mornings and evenings. Evening caddis have been rolling for a while now. Be sure to stock your box with the Iris Caddis, in case of a strong caddis emergence. The float stretch and the wade stretch have both provided great fishing. Though it would be best to fish up higher in the afternoon, as the warm days will raise the water temperature. We're not far from terrestrial fishing on the Madison. Keep your eyes out for hoppers, beetles, and ants.
The Gallatin continues to fish well with a variety of caddis and mayflies. The daytime emergences have been unpredictable, but terrific when they occur. It's the type of river that you might have to blind fish for hours until insects actually show up. It's been a good year for the Gallatin, solid hatches of bugs that we rarely see have become a common occurrence. PMDs and caddis have been hatching during the day, while caddis, Epeorus, and various lesser-known mayflies have been hatching in the evening. This river should fish well for a while.
Our customers and employees have caught some nice cuts on the Yellowstone above the Falls. Aaron and I fished here on Monday and found minimal insect activity. There were green drake spinners on the water as well as an emergence of PMDs, but we did not have the prolific insect activity that we're used to. We found some fish, but they were not of the size that we were seeing in the Yellowstone over the past few years. Hopefully this means that there are more fish, and that we're on our way to a healthier population.
Callibaetis and tricos have been active on the Madison Arm of Hebgen Lake. There have been very strong emergences of Callibaetis, and spinners have been present throughout the lake. The weather man is calling for big wind tomorrow, but then we should settle into a stretch of low winds, and lake fishing should take off. In a little over a week the gulper fishing should really get going!
The Northeast Corner has been fishing well for several weeks now. Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte are all clear. We're nearing closer to terrestrial season, but you can still find good emergences of PMDs and other mayflies. Gray drake spinners are likely done on Slough Creek, but there will be plenty of other bugs to go around.
July 14th, 2016
The Madison is fishing in a way that I am too young to have experienced until now. The cool water from the dam has made dry fly fishing an all day affair. It feels as if the hatches are here to linger, rather than burnout in a short lived period of glory, as they had over the past few years. The mornings have been slow, until caddis become active and the PMDs emerge around 10:30 or 11 am. Once the insects really get going and the water warms up, dry fly fishing has lasted until dark. Epeorus have been spotted in the mornings, which is a testament to the optimal hatching conditions, because Epeorus typically emerge in the afternoon and evening. During the hours when fish are not rising, patience and observation will bring big brown trout to hand. Fish are far more sly than we realize. They may not be willing to rise, but they might be willing to sneak into six inches of water and feed on nymphs for hours. We can often trick them by blind casting in those shallow holding areas.
PMDs and green drakes have been trickling off on the Gallatin. When the bulky green bugs have been around, a Green Drake Sparkle Dun is the best blind fishing pattern you can find. Caddis fishing should also heat up in the afternoons and evenings. Most anywhere on the Gallatin would be a good bet during the next few days.
The Yellowstone above the Falls will open on July 15th. You can expect green drakes, green drake spinners, PMDs, golden stones and a plethora of other insects. The Yellowstone of old was just as famous for its 100 fish days as its epic hatches. The park service has been killing as many lake trout as possible, and the cutthroat population has shown signs of rebirth. Smaller cuts were spotted last year. We hope to see even more in 2016.
The Railroad Ranch is running close to 1,600 CFS which is plenty high for this time of year, but not un-fishable. The sister of the green drake, Drunella flavilinea, has been emerging and providing some fishing in the afternoon. Flav spinners have been falling in the mornings. Like we've said before, look for the areas where the water is slower, and it isn't much work for fish to feed in the high water.
Callibaetis continue to emerge on Hebgen Lake. Our approach has remained the same for weeks, fish when the wind is down. If you're fortunate enough to have a motor boat, cruise around the lake to find wind protected areas, you might find fish rising all day. Nymphing has been very productive as usual. Once our weather gets nice and warm again, we'll have solid spinner falls.
Slough Creek and Soda Butte should be clear and fishing well. We had big rain and the Lamar may not be clear yet, but it should be soon. Take drakes and PMDs with you if you're headed to the northeast corner. You'll also want to have hoppers and beetles if the sun is out.
We've finally reached the point in the summer when all the small streams and alpine lakes are fishable. Drop in and talk to Aaron and Bucky about cool spots that are overlooked or high in the backcountry.
July 7th, 2016
The Madison below Quake has been full of surprises. Glossosoma caddis have been hatching through the afternoon and providing terrific fishing in the wade stretch. But other caddis fishing has proven unpredictable. Normally, caddis will hatch during the early morning and late evening this time of year. But because of cooler temperatures and colder water, these bugs are hatching throughout the warmer times of the day. Whether things will continue to happen this way, no one knows. The PMDs behaved in similar fashion yesterday. They hatched for a long period of time during the afternoon. The good news is that the Madison has been fishing most of the day with dry flies, everyday. The bad news, or maybe good news depending on how you view it, is that we can't tell you exactly when insects will be hatching. We'll just have to hit the water and find out, until we reach some sort of rhythm. Salmonflies are still being spotted in the wade stretch, but the hatch is nearing its end. Hopefully the warmth and sun of the next few days will get them moving again.
Hebgen Lake has been tough to fish due to high winds in the morning. Callibaetis continue to emerge and some of the first tricos were spotted yesterday. Stripping nymphs past rising fish is an effective tactic before the hatch gets going. Leech fishing will also be a solid way to fish. Even though the wind has been up, fishing the lake in the morning isn't a total bust, because you can head down to the Madison after you get blown off. Look for this lake to turn on once our weather settles down.
Slough Creek has seen epic days, as well as tough days since it started fishing. Plenty of insects have been spotted, including Drunella grandis, otherwise known as the Green Drake. You should have PMD Sparkle Duns, various spinners and terrestrial patterns. The key to fishing Slough during this time of year is to spread out. These bigs cuts will be much easier to catch when your flies are the first ones they see on a given day. It's also important to be patient, and stealthy. You can often spot these fish if you're moving slow. Enjoy them now, as they are easy for the taking, but soon they will be quite wise.
Soda Butte has been fishing well, but it took some rain yesterday so it may be slightly off color. Each day our customers have seen different mayflies. Somedays it's PMDs, others Green Drakes, and quite often it is one of a few lesser known mayflies. Soda Butte is a place where we should respect our quarry. When flies are hatching, the fish throw caution to the wind. If we decide that we're going to catch as many of them as we can in a single day, we must take care, as always, to minimize the stress we put on the fish. That means fishing strong tippets, bringing the fish to net as quickly as possible, and handling them with care. It's an area of our fishing that most of us have room for improvement.
The Lamar is off color as of now. When it clears up it will be fishing well, as it had been before the rain. Give us a call to get the latest on this river.
June 30th, 2016
The Madison below Quake is in its fishing prime. Pale morning duns, caddis and stoneflies are all hatching in good numbers. The most insect activity has occurred around Lyon Bridge and below. Salmonflies have been spotted as far up as Raynold's Pass, but the bulk of the hatch will be near Windy Point, give or take a few miles.
I would say that fishing anywhere from Quake Lake to Ennis is fair game, but some of the fish below Palisades may be gorged on salmonflies. Raynold's Pass and $3 Bridge are getting better by the day. The colder water from the dam may have slowed some of the insect activity from getting to these places until now. While the water is this low, you can wade pretty much anywhere, take advantage of this to check out new places, but try not to trample any holes where the fish are stacked up. We hope the water will be raised past its current flow of 640 CFS in the coming days. We have several weeks of good fishing ahead on the Madison, we'll keep you posted.
The Gallatin has warmed up and stoneflies are buzzing around everywhere. In the park stretch, there are some salmonflies and golden stones, but there are hoards of little yellow sallies. In the next few days we should be seeing more caddis, PMDs, and other bugs hatching on this river. You can't really go wrong on the Gallatin during this time of year. Don't forget some Chubby Chernobyls for this turbulent river. Their foam bodies are low maintenance for keeping afloat.
The Gardner River should be fishing with salmonflies and golden stones. You can fish it up or downstream of Mammoth. Its upper stretches and tributaries are great brook trout fisheries where you can take children and beginners.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte are now fishing. We don't have a report from the second or third meadow of Slough, but they should have some bugs hatching already. Lamar and Soda Butte just became clear, and have already had some dry fly fishing. Be sure to have Green Drake and PMD Sparkle Duns. Always keep an eye on the water when you fish in the northeast corner. You never know what mayflies will appear and there's nothing cooler than witnessing a your own private hatch.
The Henry's Fork was bumped up to 1,600 CFS on June 28th. As always, it threw things off for a day or two. No matter which tailwater you're fishing, always keep an eye on the flows. The fish on the Ranch become exceptionally moody when the flows change. 1,600 CFS is high, use caution if you'll be wading the river. With the water at such a level, there will be many places that fish don't want to rise, seek out the stretches where the water is slow.