August 27, 2020
The Madison continues to provide some action with terrestrials. The hopper bite has been a little up and down but ants and beetles have also provided some action in the afternoon hours. Tan and pink Thunder Thighs and Morrish Hoppers in size 10, as well as #14-16 Arrick's Para-Ants and #14-16 Gulp Beetles are providing the best action on the surface. For nymphs, make sure to have some brown #16-18 $3 Dips, #16 Split-Case PMDs, #8-10 Pat's Rubberlegs and #16-18 Radiation Baetis.
The Gallatin has fished well with terrestrials lately, particularly in the park stretch. Much like the Madison, the hopper bite is better some days than others, but ants and beetles will also pick up some fish through the afternoon hours. Pink or tan Thunder Thighs and Morrish Hoppers in size 10, #10 Longhorn Beetles and #14-16 Gulp Beetles, and #14-16 Para-Ants fished with a #16 Split-Case PMD or Beadhead Hare's Ear underneath will be good bets.
Hebgen Lake still has some solid Callibaetis activity on all arms of the lake. On the Madison Arm you'll also see Tricos in the early morning hours, and ants are always around this time of year and can provide some great fishing when they hit the water. #16 Callibaetis Sparkle Duns, CDC Para-Spinners, Deer Hair Spinners, and Film Critics as well as #20 Trico Sparkle Duns and CDC Para-Spinners will all be great choices. For ants make sure to have a #16 CDC Flying Ant or Shimazaki Ant.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte have seen the first of the fall Drake Mackerel emergences this past week to go along with the usual terrestrial activity. If you're heading this way, be sure to have #12 Drake Mackerel Cripples and Sparkle Duns, #10 pink or yellow Thunder Thighs and Morrish Hoppers, #10 Longhorn Beetles, #14 cinnamon Arrick's Para-Ants and Ant-Acids, and #12-14 Gulp Beetles.
The Gardner River is a great spot to find plenty of hopper activity this time of year as well, particularly in the lower reaches between Mammoth Hot Springs and the confluence with the Yellowstone. Be sure to have plenty of hoppers like a #10 tan or yellow Morrish Hopper, as well as a #10 Longhorn Beetle and #14 cinnamon Ant-Acid.
August 20, 2020
It's the same game as last week on the Madison where we are still getting some good fish up on the surface to hoppers and ants. It's been just a little more finicky day to day on the Madison with dries but nevertheless still some great action! Tan and yellow Thunder Thighs and Morrish Hoppers in size 10, as well as #12-14 Stubby Ants and #14-16 Arrick's Para-Ants are providing the best action on the surface. For nymphs, make sure to have some brown #16-18 $3 Dips, #16 Split-Case PMDs, #8-10 Pat's Rubberlegs and #16-18 Radiation Baetis.
There are still a few caddis and PMDs coming off in the morning hours on the Gallatin from Big Sky downstream. Later in the day you'll need to nymph or head up to the Park sections to find a little cooler water as the day heats up. Pink or tan Thunder Thighs and Morrish Hoppers in sizes 10 and 14 and #12-14 Stubby Ants fished with a #16 Split-Case PMD or Beadhead Hare's Ear #14-16.
Hebgen Lake has had some excellent hatches over the past week and we are seeing great Callibaetis on all arms of the lake. If you're fishing the Madison Arm you'll also see clouds of Tricos in the early morning hours. Ant's have also been showing up well and the fish have been taking them! #16 Callibaetis Sparkle Duns, CDC Para-Spinners, Deer Hair Spinners, and Film Critics as well as #20 Trico Sparkle Duns and CDC Para-Spinners will all be great choices. For ants have a #14 Stubby Ant or #14-16 Arrick's Para-Ant and also Dan Rust's favorite, a #16 CDC Flying ant.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte are all great choices and it won't be too long until we start to see a few Drake Mackerels in the mix along with the terrestrials. If you're heading this way be sure to have #10 pink or yellow Thunder Thighs and Morrish Hoppers, #10 Longhorn Beetles, #14 Stubby Ants and Arrick's Para-Ants, and #12 Improved Killer Bees. Patrick has been camping out up in the meadows of Slough this past week so we will have more details on the upper end of Slough in next week's report.
Cliff and Wade Lakes are sleeper choices right now. Hoppers, 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.
August 6, 2020
The Madison below Quake continues to please with both dry flies and nymphs, for wading and floating anglers alike. There are still some great morning and evening hatches to take advantage of and mix that in with the terrestrial bite and you can't miss. A few flies to have with you this week include #14 tan or pink Thunder Thighs and Morrish Hoppers, #14 Stubby Ants and Arrick's Flying Ants, #16 PFD Parachutes, #16 Purple Haze, #16 Epeorus Black-Wing Cripple and #16-18 Rusty CDC Biot Spinners on top, with a #16 Split Case PMD, #16 Red Butt Darts and #16 Copper Quill Nymphs for droppers.
The Gallatin is in great shape and has fished well with dry flies, especially in the morning and evening hours. Still great numbers of caddis, some PMDs and don't forget terrestrials. Fishing has slowed down during the hot afternoons in the lower sections of the Gallatin, so you may want to consider fishing low in the AM and then move up to the park sections during the afternoons. Try #16 Missing Link Caddis and Parachute Adams, tan #14 Thunder Thighs, #14 Stubby Ants, and do yourself a favor and try an Improved Killer Bee! For nymphs, #16 Little Green Machines, #16 Shop Vacs, and #16 P.T. Princes have all been great go-to patterns.
Hebgen Lake has been picking up steam and emergences of Tricos and Callibaetis have been strong, especially on the Madison Arm, meaning it's officially gulper season! The fish in Hebgen have started to rise more consistently and track better, which has certainly helped our success rates, with less of the "one and done" risers. Other arms of the lake such as the Grayling Arm and the west side have also seen good Callibaetis emergences. For Tricos, have #20 Sparkle Duns and #20 CDC Para-Spinners. For Callibaetis, #16 Deer Dair Spinners, Sparkle Duns, Tilt-Wing Duns and Sprout Emergers have worked well for us over the past week. We've also been seeing a few ants out on the lake, and as you well know, when the ants come out you won't want to be without a few good imitations such as a #14 Stubby Ant or a #16 honey CDC Flying Ant.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte have fished well, though there have been an amazing number of bison over in the Lamar Valley lately, which has actually made fishing the Lamar a little tricky in trying to maintain a safe distance from these guys. But other than that, the fishing in the northeast corner has been good over the past week with terrestrials. Longhorn Beetles, #14 pink Thunder Thighs, #16 Jake's Gulp Beetle and Yellowstone Killer Bees are some key patterns you'll want to have with you. Keep an eye out for Heptagenia, PMDs and caddis as well if you make your way over.
Yellowstone River below Gardiner has fished well over the past week and a few of our guides have had some great success floating this section of the Yellowstone. Size 14 Morrish and Thunder Thighs Hoppers have been their fly of choice along with Aaron's Stubby Ant. The surface activity has been well worth the drive from West!
Don't forget about the small streams of Yellowstone because this is the perfect time of year to fish them. The upper Gardner, Lava, Cascade, Solfatara, Straight and Obsidian all lend themselves to some great fishing opportunities at this time. Take along a couple of attractor patterns like a #16 Royal Wulff, Trude or Parachute Adams and let 'er rip!
July 30, 2020
The Madison below Quake has fished well this week with hoppers and ants during the day, and there are still a few PMDs around in the late mornings, along with caddis and Epeorus in the evenings. Try #14 tan or pink Thunder Thighs and Morrish Hoppers, #14 Stubby Ants and Arrick's Flying Ants, #16 PFD Parachutes, #16 Purple Haze, #16 Epeorus Black-Wing Cripple and #16 Epeorus Spinner on top, with a #16 Jig Perdigon in Quill/Fl. Orange, #16 Red Butt Darts and #16 Spanish Bullets for droppers.
The Gallatin is currently blown out from Taylor's Fork downstream due to heavy rains the last few afternoons, but the river above Taylor's should continue to fish well. Terrestrials are providing action on warmer afternoons, and there are still a few PMDs and Green Drakes hanging around, with some caddis in the evening as well. A few spruce moths have been spotted but we haven't heard any reports of large numbers yet, but definitely take a few with you if you head this way. Try the same flies listed for the Madison, with the addition of a #12 Green Drake Cripple and a #14 Summer Spruce Moth.
Dry fly fishing on Hebgen Lake has been a little up and down for the last few days. Some anglers have reported good numbers of Callibaetis and plenty of feeding fish, and others have seen much more sporadic activity. The fishing should get a little steadier each day, but if you don't see much happening, don't be afraid to move around a bit in search of pods of feeding fish. Try #16 Callibaetis Deer Hair Spinners and Sparkle Duns, and don't be afraid to throw a size 14 ant like our Stubby Ant as well if fish are rising sporadically, as there have been a few ants showing up and fish will sometimes go out of their way to take one.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte continue to fish well when clear. Recent rains have had the Lamar and Soda Butte running high and off color for the last two days, but we expect the fishing to pick right back up as soon as they clear. PMDs have been going strong, with a few Green Drakes still in the mix, too. Terrestrials are also a great choice, so have plenty of foam flies to throw when fish aren't rising so actively. Longhorn Beetles in #10, #12-14 Stubby Ants and #14 pink Thunder Thighs Hoppers and Morrish Hoppers will all be great choices, along with #16 PMD and #12 Green Drake Sparkle Duns and Razor Mayflies.
Cliff and Wade Lakes can fish very well this time of year, especially when the Spruce Moths show up. We haven't gotten any definitive reports of anglers seeing them just yet, but they should show up any time. Focus on the steeper wooded banks in the morning hours and use a #14 Summer Spruce Moth to catch those trout cruising the banks in search of moths. Once the wind comes up in the afternoon, drifting along those same banks and casting a #10 pink Thunder Thighs Hopper or Longhorn Beetle can also be deadly.
July 23, 2020
The Madison below Quake is starting to enter its annual transition from match-the-hatch fishing to terrestrial season. Folks are still catching fish on PMDs and Yellow Sallies during the day and caddis and Epeorus mayflies in the evenings, but hoppers, ants and beetles are becoming more effective each day as well. Keep an eye out for Spruce Moths now also if you are fishing some of the more wooded areas of the river. Be sure to try #16 PMD Film Critics and Razor Mayflies, #16 Epeorus Black Wing Cripples and Epeorus Spinners, #16 Tan X Caddis and Missing Link Caddis, and a #16 Jake's Yellow Sally to match the hatches, and in the afternoons when not much else is happening, try #14 pink or tan Thunder Thighs Hoppers, #10 Longhorn Beetles, and #14 Stubby Ants. A #14 Summer Spruce Moth or tan Razor Caddis will also be great flies to have on hand in case you encounter some of those insects falling into the river. For nymphs, try a #16 Split-Case PMD, Copper Quill Nymph, brown $3 Dip, or Pheasant Tail Prince.
The Gallatin is still producing some quality fishing as well, with many of the same insects listed above. There are also a few Green Drakes around still, and fish are looking for them and will often take one readily even if there aren't many bugs around. Spruce Moths could show up any day now as well, so keep an eye on the wooded areas around the Taylor Fork and in the canyon downstream of Big Sky for those terrestrials. We'll be fishing #16 PMD Sparkle Duns and #12 Green Drake Sparkle Duns, #16 tan X Caddis and Missing Link Caddis, #14 yellow Summer Stones, #14 Stubby Ants and Arrick's Flying Ants, #14 pink and tan Thunder Thighs Hoppers, #10 Longhorn Beetles, and #14 Summer Spruce Moths here this week.
Dry fly fishing on Hebgen Lake has been good the last few days, with positive reports from both the Madison and Grayling Arms. Look for a warm, calm day, and expect to see plenty of large rainbows and browns gulping on the surface. Callibaetis Sparkle Duns, Deer Hair Spinners, Razor Mayflies and Foam Spinners in size 16 will continue to be go-to patterns, with Driskill's Callibaetis Nymphs and Split-Case PMDs in size 16 being excellent choices for dropper nymphs.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte continue to fish well. It sounds like PMDs are the main hatch here, but a few Green Drakes continue to trickle off and provide some solid fishing, too. It's definitely terrestrial time here also, so have plenty of foam flies for those hungry cutthroat. #10 Longhorn Beetles, #12-14 Stubby Ants and #14 pink Thunder Thighs Hoppers and Morrish Hoppers will all be great choices, along with #16 PMD and #12 Green Drake Sparkle Duns and Razor Mayflies.
Reports from the Yellowstone above the falls have been mixed. The water is still on the high side, and it seems the hatches have been inconsistent here, with some PMDs and Green Drakes providing good fishing on certain days, while other days not much seems to happen. The good news, however, is that when the hatches are on, anglers are reporting that there seem to be plenty of fish in the river. Try #16 PMD Sparkle Duns and PFD Parachutes, #12 Green Drake Sparkle Duns and CDC Para-Spinners, #10 purple and #14 pink Chubby Chernobyls, pink #10-14 Thunder Thighs, and #10 Longhorn Beetles.
July 16, 2020
The Madison below Quake continues to provide great dry fly fishing. PMDs, a variety of caddis and Epeorus are the main hatches now, with a few occasional Green Drakes still in the mix as well. Make sure to take #16 PMD Razor Mayflies and Sparkle Duns, #16 Pink Lady Improved Sparkle Duns and Epeorus Spinners, and #14 tan Front End Loaders, #17 tan Iris Caddis, and #20 black X Caddis to cover the action on top. If you are fishing subsurface or dry-dropper, try a #16 Split Case PMD, #16 Copper Quill Nymph, or a #16-18 Red Neck.
The Gallatin also is still fishing well on the surface. As usual with the Gallatin, the cold water temperatures mean that fishing will usually not pick up until about late morning, once the water warms up a bit. Try #16 PMD Cripples and Sparkle Duns, #14-16 Missing Link Caddis, #12 Green Drake Sparkle Razor Mayflies, #12 olive Summer Stones and #14 yellow Stimulators, along with a #16 Shop Vac, #16 black Perdigon Nymph or #16 Red Neck for a dropper.
We haven't heard any reports from yesterday's opener on the Yellowstone in the Park, but expect a smattering of Green Drakes, Salmonflies and Golden Stones, a variety of caddis, Yellow Sallies, and PMDs. And as usual with cutthroat, it's never too early to try some terrestrials here as well. Gold Chubby Chernobyls in #10-12, #12 Green Drake Sparkle Duns and Foam Spinners, PMD Sparkle Duns and PFD Parachutes in #16, #14-16 Corn Fed Caddis and #14 yellow Summer Stones will all be must-have flies for the Yellowstone, and don't be afraid to try a #14 pink Thunder Thighs Hopper, #10 Longhorn Beetle or #14 Stubby Ant as well.
The Callibaetis hatch on Hebgen Lake is starting to pick up. It's still not at full force just yet, but bug numbers are increasing and the forecast for plenty of warm sunny days in the near future should help. Callibaetis Sparkle Duns, Deer Hair Spinners, Razor Mayflies and Foam Spinners will all be great patterns to fish this week in size 16, with a #16 Beadhead Driskill's Callibaetis Nymph dropped underneath if the rises are on the sporadic side.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte have really picked up over the last week. There are still a handful of Green and Grey Drakes around on Slough, with PMDs and caddis making up the bulk of the hatches there, and Green Drakes and PMDs have been hatching well on Soda Butte and the Lamar also. Try #12 Green Drake Sparkle Duns, #12 green and tan Spent Sparkle Drakes, #16 PMD Cripples, #14 tan and purple Front End Loaders, and #16 rusty Hi-Vis Para-Spinners. Fish are also starting to look at some terrestrial patterns here, so also be sure to have some #10 pink and tan Thunder Thighs Hoppers, #10 Longhorn Beetles, and #12-14 Stubby Ants.
As mentioned in the introduction, many of the local small mountain streams are beginning to fish well. You rarely need a very specific fly pattern for these creeks, so a general selection of attractors like #14 yellow Stimulators, #14-16 Parachute Adams, royal Wulff Cripples and Purple Hazes will usually do the job. Creeks like the upper Gardner, Obsidian, Indian, Lava, and Blacktail Deer in the park have all fished well this past week, but there are plenty more to choose from, so stop by the shop if you feel like chatting about small stream fishing and we can give some more suggestions!
July 9, 2020
The Madison below Quake continues to fish very well. Salmonflies and Golden Stones are still hanging around, though we are at the tail end of the hatch now. PMD and caddis fishing remains excellent, and some Green Drakes have been spotted here and there, too. Don't be afraid to spend a little time prospecting with smaller stonefly patterns in between hatches, too, as they can produce some great fish! Try a #6 Rogue Salmonfly, #16 PMD Sparkle Duns and PFD Parachutes, #12 Green Drake Razor Mayflies, #16 tan X Caddis and Missing Links, #14-16 Royal Wulff Cripples and a #14 yellow Summer Stone or Stimulator on the surface. For nymphs, a #16 brown $3 Dip and Split-Case PMD will be great choices.
The Gallatin has really begun to fish well in the past week. A few Salmonflies and Golden Stones have been spotted up into the Park stretch, and plenty of PMDs and caddis have been hatching along with the first few Green Drakes. Try similar flies to the Madison, and don't be afraid to blind fish the Green Drake if you don't see many fish rising, as Gallatin trout have been known to go out of their way to find these insects!
Slough Creek has seen some hatches pick up over the past week, too. Look for Grey and Green Drakes and PMDs here in the late morning and early afternoon hours, and some caddis late in the day as well. Try #12 Grey Drake Foam Spinners, #12 Green Drake Razor Mayflies and Sparkle Duns, and #16 PMD Sparkle Duns and PFD Parachutes and #14-16 Corn Fed Caddis.
The Lamar and Soda Butte still haven't quite turned on. Nymph fishing will produce a few fish, but we should start to see some Green Drakes and PMDs on these rivers any day. Since the water is still cold, the best chance to hit a hatch will be be during the warmest hours of the day, from 11:00am to about 4:00pm.
The Yellowstone above the falls opens this coming Wednesday on the 15th, and we anticipate some solid hatches here, though the water is still a bit high and wading will be a bit difficult. Aaron took a ride to LeHardy Rapids late Tuesday afternoon to check things out and reported lots of Salmonflies and Golden Stones in the air, along with plenty of caddis. Make sure to have some Green Drakes and PMDs, too. We suggest #12 gold Chubby Chernobyls, #12 Green Drake Cripples, #16 PMD Film Critics, and #14 Corn Fed Caddis as a few of the dries we'd be fishing.
July 2, 2020
The Madison below Quake is the place to be right now. Nearly every type of bug you can think of is hatching here: PMDs and caddis are emerging in large numbers, there are a few Green Drakes around, and Salmonflies and Golden Stones are coming back out after a recent spell of cool weather shut them down for a few days. Smaller stones like Yellow Sallies have also been around as well. Fish have been looking up and dry fly fishing here has really been excellent lately. We've been fishing #16 PMD Sparkle Duns, Cripples and PFD Parachutes, #16 tan X Caddis and #15 amber Iris Caddis, #12 Green Drake Cripples, #12 olive & #14 yellow Summer Stones, #8 orange Sunken Stones and #6 Hot Cake Salmonflies. For nymphs, try #16 brown Montana Bullets and $3 Dips, #16 Split-Case PMDs, #16 Spanish Bullets and #6-8 coffee Rubberlegs.
The Gallatin should pick up this week with forecasts predicting temperatures in the 70s for the whole week. The river below Taylor Fork has been a bit dirty due to some recent rain but should clear up shortly, and water levels should be in great shape once that happens. Look for Salmonflies and Golden Stones to begin working their way upriver once the water clears, and PMDs, Yellow Sallies and caddis should be showing up quickly as well. Fly selection here is more or less the same as the Madison, but don't be afraid to throw in some attractor dries as well, such as a #14 Royal Wulff Cripple or Royal Stimulator.
We haven't heard any definitive reports on the status of Slough Creek over the last few days, but it should start seeing some hatches any day now. Grey Drakes and PMDs are generally the first bugs to show, with Green Drakes and caddis not too far behind. If you head this way, make sure to take some #12 Grey Drake Foam Spinners, #12 Green Drake Razor Mayflies, #16 PMD Sparkle Duns, and #17 tan Iris Caddis, along with a #8 black Woolly Bugger just in case the hatches haven't quite gotten going yet!
The Lamar and Soda Butte are still a bit high and cold, and we're guessing it will still be another week until we start to see some dry fly fishing there.
The Firehole and Madison in the Park produced a bit of action earlier this week with the cool weather, but with warmer air temperatures arriving, water temperatures will shoot back up into the 70s, and so we'll be giving these rivers a break until fall.
A few days ago we received the first report in a long time from Grebe Lake. Anglers reported catching good numbers of westslope cutthroat in the 9-12" range, though they did not encounter any grayling on that particular day. Attractor dries and damsel nymphs would be great choices if you decide to make this hike!
June 25, 2020
The Madison below Quake is getting ready to go nuts! PMDs and caddis have begun to hatch throughout the river, and Salmonflies have begun their annual emergence around Ennis, and will march their way upriver over the next week or so. Nymphing has been very productive as well, and a dry-dropper rig is a great way to go right now. Try #16 PMD Sparkle Duns and Cripples, #14-16 tan X Caddis and Razor Caddis, and #6 Flutter Bugs, #8 Salmonfly Chubby Chernobyls and #6-8 orange Sunken Stones on top, with a #6-8 black Rubberlegs, #14-16 Spanish Bullet, #16 Split-Case PMD or #16 OCD Caddis dropped underneath.
The Gallatin is very close to providing some great dry fly fishing as well. A few Salmonflies and Golden Stones have shown up on the lower river, along with a handful of caddis and smaller stoneflies. The water has dropped and cleared to a fishable level, and just needs a few more warm days to help raise the water temperature a few more degrees. Try a #8 Salmonfly Chubby Chernobyl or #6 orange Sunken Stone with a #8 black Rubberlegs, #14 Pheasant Tail Prince, #14 Golden Stone Two-Bit-Hooker, or #14-16 crystal $3 Dip. If you're heading to the Gallatin, keep in mind that there are major delays between West Yellowstone and Big Sky due to road construction.
The fishing on the Firehole and Madison in the Park is coming to an end for the time being, with water temperatures in the lower Firehole reaching the upper 70s and the Madison reaching the mid 70s over the last few days. You may still find a few PMDs hatching early in the morning around Biscuit Basin or around Madison Junction, but with fishing beginning to pick up on other rivers across the area, there are much better options at this point and we recommend letting these fish rest until cooler temperatures arrive in the fall.
Slough Creek, Lamar and Soda Butte are still high and quite cold. We anticipate it will be at least another week to 10 days before dry fly fishing really takes off here.
The Gardner has begun to fish well over the past week. Keep an eye out for Salmonflies and Golden Stones in the lower water between Mammoth and Gardner, and we should see PMDs emerge here any day as well. Try a #10 Salmonfly or Gold Chubby Chernobyl, #10 orange Sunken Stone or #16 PMD Cripple, and don't be afraid to drop a nymph off the back like a #8 black Rubberlegs, #16 brown $3 Dip or #16 red Two-Bit Hooker.
The Henry's Fork has been fishing well of late also, with PMDs, Flavs, caddis and Golden Stones as well as a few drakes still hatching on the river below Ashton. Try #16 PMD Cripples, #14 Flav Sparkle Duns, #14-18 Missing Link Caddis and #8 Golden Sunken Stones here for the best action. On the ranch, the PMD hatch has been fairly strong with some Green Drakes and caddis in the mix as well. A few Flavs have also shown themselves here and the Brown Drakes should be right around the corner. Try #16 PMD Cripples and Sparkle Duns, #16 Missing Link and Corn Fed Caddis, and #12 Green Drake Foam Emergers if you plan to fish this section.
June 18, 2020
The Firehole has been fishing well over the past week and the snowy, rainy conditions made for good emergences of PMDs and Baetis. As the weather becomes nicer over the next few day, watch for the caddis to emerge stronger. For dry flies make sure to have White Miller Razor Caddis #16, Firehole PMD Sparkle Duns #16-18, and Baetis Sparkle Duns #18. If you're swinging soft hackles, try Micro Beeleys #16, March Brown Spiders #14, Peacock & Partridge #14, Partridge & Orange #14, Hot Spot Soft Hackles in orange, mint and purple, and White Miller Soft Hackles. My guess is we have about only a week or two before we start to see temperatures rise on the Firehole so hit it while you can.
The Gibbon is well worth looking at! Watch for PMDs and perhaps even some drakes in the upper meadows, and you may still find some stoneflies below the falls as well.
There was no shortage of anglers on the Henry's Fork as the ranch opened this past Monday. As you would expect there are lots of bugs on the Fork and the dry fly fishing has been fantastic. Green Drakes, caddis, PMDs, Baetis and Flavs make up for the bulk of the hatches and there are even a few stoneflies left in the mix on the lower river as well. Have Missing Link Green Drakes #12, Corn-Fed Caddis #16, Flav & PMD Sparkle Duns #14 & 16 respectively, and Hi-Vis Black Rusty Spinners #16.
Not Much has changed on Hebgen Lake over the past week, and we still have some early season Callibaetis on the Madison Arm and on the main body of the lake. Chironomid fishing is still the most productive method right now and our guides have continued to have success with this technique. If you're going to Hebgen make sure to have a few Sparkle Dun Callibaetis #16, Callibaetis Tilt-Wing Duns #16 and #14 Adams Parawulffs. If you're fishing subsurface, Traffic Light Diawl Bachs #12, Driskill's Midge #12 and Ice Cream Cones #12 are a few flies that you'll want to have along.
Keep a close eye on the Gallatin over the next week! Expect a bit of color over the next couple of days but as this river continues to drop you will see the big stones starting to crawl out towards the banks, and along with that caddis and PMDs will start to emerge. Nymph-wise have with you Rubberlegs #10-12, Prince Nymphs #14-16, San Juan Worms #12, and Pheasant Tails #16-18. If you're fishing the park sections of the Gallatin remember that there is road construction along this stretch and you may have a couple of delays. Also don't be in a big rush in the morning hours as you'll want to let the water warm up a bit.
The Madison below Quake Lake is currently 921 cfs out of Hebgen Dam and 1520 cfs at Kirby just above the West fork. Both floating and wading the river have been very productive this past week and we've started to see some fish feeding on the surface more frequently. This is a great time of year to do a little prospecting with larger dry attractor patterns. I like a #12 Royal Wulff or Bucky's Ausable Cripple. For nymphs have coffee Rubberlegs #8, San Juans, Shop Vacs #16, $3 Dip #14-16, Spanish Bullets #14 and Red Two-Bit Hookers #14-16. For streamers have Kreelex in Copper/Gold or Silver/Gold, Super Buggers in Black and Sheila's Sculpins. If you're a dry fly die-hard keep a close eye on the Madison as we think this river will explode over the next week!
In the northeast corner of the park, Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte are still running high and cold. We are about two weeks away from seeing these river start to fish but if you're heading that way, your best bet will be Slough as it usually is the first of the three to clear, and fishing lower down on the river is best this time of year.
June 11, 2020
The Firehole has dropped significantly over the past few days and we expect to see lots of caddis over the next week. PMDs and some Baetis are also two key insects to look out for. Most of our staff has been up fishing the Firehole over the past couple days and have had great success both on dry flies and swinging soft hackles. For dry flies make sure to have White Miller Razor Caddis #16, Firehole Sparkle Dun PMDs #16, Sparkle Dun Baetis #18 and a few #8 Improved Sunken Stones just in case you head to the Firehole Canyon. Soft hackles are always the go-to on the Firehole and this year has been no exception, take along Micro Beeleys #16, March Brown Spiders #14, Peacock & Partridge #14, Partridge & Orange #14, Hot Spot Soft Hackles in orange, mint and purple, and White Miller Soft Hackles. Compared to previous years there haven't been many folks on the Firehole and the fishing has been great so this is the perfect time to be there!
On the Madison in the Park we should see a few Salmonflies show up again as the weather gets nice for the next couple of days. If you don't see these big bugs flying or crawling around on the banks it's still worth tying one on and giving it a try for a least a little while, my guess is you'll be pleasantly surprised! Look for PMDs to show up especially over the weekend, as the weather man has called for a few clouds.
Now is a great time to check out the Gibbon River, our sleeper bet for the week. Watch for Golden Stones, PMDs, caddis as well as Salmonflies below the falls. Upstream in the meadows, watch for Grey and Brown Drakes, which can bring up some larger browns to the surface.
The Henry's Fork Railroad Ranch section opens June 15th and with it we will see fine PMD and caddis fishing, with drakes to follow. Be prepared with our PMD Foam Nymphs and Emergers in #16-18, PMD Improved Sparkle Duns in #18 and Iris and X2 Caddis #16-18.
Hebgen Lake is at 93.4% full and has fished well over the past few days, and we have seen a few early season Callibaetis start to emerge both in the Madison Arm and on the main body of the lake. Chironomid fishing has been the most productive method as of late and a few of our guides have reported some great days on this body of water. If you're going to Hebgen make sure to have a few Sparkle Dun Callibaetis #16, Callibaetis Tilt-Wing Duns #16 and #14 Adams Parawulffs. If you're fishing subsurface, Traffic Light Diawl Bachs #12, Driskill's Midge #12 and Ice Cream Cones #12 are a few flies that you'll want to have along.
The Gallatin has also dropped dramatically over the past three to four days and your best bet here will be in the canyon stretches with nymphs. Black Rubberlegs #10, Green Machines #16, San Juans #12, Tungsten Pheasant Tail Princes #16 and Two-Bit Hooker Golden Stones #14 are flies you'll want to have in your arsenal. The stretches inside YNP may be running just a bit cool for now but keep a close eye on the Gallatin over the next week or so as I think it's not too far out where this river will blow up into some great dry fly fishing!
The Madison below Quake Lake has dropped over 1000cfs in the last few days and is coming into great shape. The streamer and nymph fishing has been very good over the past week and you can expect to see some dry fly activity start to emerge in a week or so. If you're heading down in the next day or two have Coffee Rubberlegs #8, San Juans, Shop Vacs #16, $3 Dip #14-16, Crystal Dips #16 and Red Two-Bit Hookers #14-16. For streamers have Kreelex in Copper/Gold or Silver/Gold, Super Buggers in Black and Sheila's Sculpins. With the water conditions dropping and clearing daily you may want to also try a dry-dropper rig along the banks. I like fishing either a #12 Royal Wulff or Bucky's Ausable Cripple with either a #16 Spanish Bullet or a #16 CDC Pheasant Tail Jig as a dropper.
June 4, 2020
The Madison River is in full runoff stage now, with very little visibility from Cabin Creek downstream. If you fish here, large nymphs and streamers will be the ticket, all fished tight to the banks. Try #6-8 black Rubberlegs, #6 Hungarian Princes, and pink or red San Juan Worms in the slack water close to the bank, or strip a black Super Bugger or Prospector, or a copper Zonker through the same areas.
The Gallatin is in runoff mode now, too, and the report is very similar to the Madison. Use the same nymphs and fish the slowest water you can find, particularly in the canyon stretch downstream of Big Sky.
The Firehole has fished well this past week, especially considering that the water is still on the high side and just a bit tea-colored. PMDs have been hatching daily around midday, with a #16 Firehole PMD Sparkle Dun being the only pattern you should need for plenty of action during that hatch. White Millers have also been present in decent numbers in the afternoon and evening hours, particularly from Midway downstream. Try a #14 White Miller Razor Caddis and don't be afraid to twitch or skate it, since fish will often key on the movement of the fluttering adults. Swinging soft hackles has produced excellent results, with flashy patterns like the Hot Spot Soft Hackle in all four colors and the Micro Beeley being great producers lately.
Midge activity on Hebgen Lake has remained spotty, but subsurface fishing with chironomids continues to produce some solid fish. Try a #12 Driskill's Midge, #14 Ice Cream Cone, or #14 Perdigonomid in about eight to 12 feet of water along the north shore for the best action.
May 28, 2020
Madison below Quake: The river is getting fairly brown now, and we anticipate that will only get worse over the coming week, with forecast temperatures in the 70s for the next five or six days. Flows will also begin to increase out of the dam as well to account for all the water coming into the lake, so with poor visibility and increased flows, wading will become more difficult and possibly even dangerous. Most of the fish will slide into the softer water along the banks anyway, so we recommend not getting in the water and simply fishing close to shore. Nymph fishing with big flies like a #6-8 black Rubberlegs, #14 Golden Stone Two-Bit Hooker, or #14 Euro Stone should be productive, and stripping a streamer like a black Prospector or Montana Intruder along the banks can often get some good looks during runoff as well.
Gallatin: The Gallatin is high and quite dirty, and flows will only increase during this stretch of warm weather. If you do decide to try the Gallatin, we'd focus on the canyon stretch downstream of Big Sky, and find the calmest water you can tight to the banks and fish it with a #6-8 black Rubberlegs and a #14 Golden Two-Bit Hooker or pink San Juan Worm.
Firehole: We've heard very little in the way of actual reports from the Firehole so far, but from what we can tell it sounds like there are some Baetishatching, along with a few PMDs and caddis. The river is on the rise, though, and we anticipate that this coming week the best action will come swinging soft hackles. Try a #16 Micro Beeley, #14 Hot Spot Soft Hackles in bronze, orange, and purple, #12-14 March Brown Spiders, #14 Tungsten Pheasant Tail Soft Hackles, and even a #10 Yellowstone Soft Hackle.
Hebgen Lake: Lake fishing is a great option during runoff season, and Hebgen will be the best bet right now. Midge fishing on the surface has been sparse this past week with the unsettled weather, but we're hoping it will improve over the next few days. Look for a warm, calm day and focus on the late morning and evening hours to try to find some risers. If you do, try a #16-18 Parachute Adams or Missing Link, and don't be afraid to drop a small nymph like a #16 Flashback Pheasant Tail off the back. Fishing subsurface should provide plenty of action when the fish aren't rising. Chironomids like the #12 Driskill's Midge, #14 Perdigonomid and #12 Pheasant Tail Chironomid in 8-12 feet of water can be dynamite, and stripping leech patterns like a #14 Pine Squirrel Leech or #12 Twin Lake Special along the rocky North shore can also yield some nice fish, particularly during morning and evening hours.
Cliff & Wade Lakes: The warm weather may just bring out some early Callibaetis mayflies here. Fishing a dry-dropper setup with a #16 Callibaetis Cripple or Parachute Adams and a red Copper John underneath can be absolutely deadly. Stripping leeches and crayfish patterns on a sinking line can also work very well here, with the same flies listed for Hebgen as well as a #8 brown Woolly Bugger.
May 21, 2020
Madison below Quake: The river is picking up some more color now from snowmelt, though runoff will ebb and flow a bit in the next week with the cooler weather we have forecast for the next few days. The main action now is with nymphs, and a #8 black or coffee Rubberlegs is always a good choice during dirty water season. We usually fish it tandem with another nymph pattern such as a #14-16 brown $3 Dip, #16 Psycho Prince or pink San Juan Worm, though sometimes we'll even fish a double Rubberlegs if the fish demand it. The streamer bite should continue to pick up as well, with black and olive/white Prospectors, copper Zonkers, and black Sculpzillas all being great choices.
Gallatin: We are in the midst of runoff on the Gallatin as well, with the river running big and dirty from the Taylor Fork downstream. Similar tactics to the Madison should work here, with big nymphs and streamers being the ticket. Our top rig is a two-nymph setup with a #8 black Rubberlegs on top and a #14 crystal $3 Dip or #16 Lightning Bug, fished through the slower water close to the banks.
Hebgen Lake: Inconsistent weather over the past week has kept the dry fly fishing from really taking off here just yet, but subsurface fishing with Chironomids and leech patterns continues to produce some fish. Focus on the area along the north shore from the Narrows to Kirkwood, and try #12 Driskill's Midges, #14 Perdigonomids and #14 Ice Cream Cones under an indicator in 8-12 feet of water, or strip #14 black Pine Squirrel Leeches or #8 black or brown Woolly Buggers. If you do run into a warm, calm day, be on the lookout for risers during late morning and evening hours. Try a #16 Parachute Adams with a #16 red Copper John or Two-Bit Hooker dropped underneath.
Firehole: We anticipate that the Firehole should fish well this weekend for the opener on Saturday if you can get there, since the West Gate to the park is still closed, and access is currently limited to the East and South entrances. Cold weather the next few days should keep flows reasonable and we expect there to be some Baetis and perhaps a few PMDs hatching in the afternoon. We'd focus on the lower water from Midway Geyser Basin downstream for the warmest water temperatures and best insect activity. Take #16 Firehole PMD Sparkle Duns and PMD Razor Mayflies, #18 Baetis Sparkle Duns and Black Wing Cripples, #16 Micro Beeleys, #14-16 Tungsten Pheasant Tail Soft Hackles, #16 Hot Spot Soft Hackles in bronze, orange and mint, and #14 March Brown Spiders.
May 14, 2020
Madison below Quake: Clarity remains fairly good here above the West Fork, with only a green tint to the water at this time. Some dirty water has been pouring out of Cabin and Beaver Creeks off and on, but not enough to turn Quake Lake completely off color just yet. Fishing remains solid, with nymphs providing the bulk of the action lately. Try a #8 black or coffee Rubberlegs with a #14-16 brown or crystal $3 Dip, #16 Lightning Bug or #16 brown or cream Montana Bullet for a dropper. There are some Baetis mayflies still hatching in the afternoons, so if you happen to run into some risers, be prepared with #18-20 Baetis Sparkle Duns, Black Wing Cripples, and Razor Mayflies. There are also a few Skwalas flying around, so don't be afraid to try a #12 olive Summer Stone or #14 purple Chubby Chernobyl as well.
Gallatin: The Gallatin is currently off-color from the Taylor's Fork downstream, and flows and clarity will most likely vary quite a bit in the coming week. Cooler temperatures will freeze up the snowmelt temporarily and perhaps help the clarity a bit, but rain in the forecast could still add some color to the river. By the weekend we have warmer temperatures in the forecast that should get the snowmelt cranking once again. Regardless, the Gallatin can fish very well when the water is a bit dirty, and we'd recommend using a big #6-8 Rubberlegs with a #14-16 Pheasant Tail Prince, #16 Lightning Bug or #14 crystal $3 Dip. We usually focus on the canyon water downstream of Big Sky this time of year, and look for the deeper runs and slower water along the edges.
Hebgen Lake: The ice is completely off of Hebgen, and midges are starting to show. We've seen some surface activity already this week, so the time to get out is here if you are looking to chase some early season gulpers! Just be sure to look for a warm, calm day and you should see some fish feeding during late morning and early afternoon hours, and possibly again in the evening as well. For surface flies, try a #16-18 Parachute Adams or #18 Griffith's Gnat, Scotty's Midge or Missing Link, and be prepared for a challenge, as these fish can be quite difficult when feeding on smaller midges. If you are fishing subsurface, the Chironomid action is always worth the effort this time of year. Fish a #12 Driskill's Midge, #14 Perdigonomid, or #14-16 red Copper John under an indicator and hang on! Leeches are also producing well, especially in the morning and evening hours. A #10 bruised Balanced Leech or #12 Twin Lake Special should be all you need.
Cliff and Wade Lakes: If you're looking for an out of the way spot to try this time of year, check out Cliff and Wade. Stripping leeches and bobbing with Chironomids can both be very effective here with the same flies listed above for Hebgen, and dry-dropper rigs are also a great bet when fish are sporadically feeding on midges. Try a #14 Adams Cripple with a #16 red Copper John or Aaron's Callibaetis Nymph for a dropper with this method. The Callibaetis hatch happens much earlier on these lakes as well, and we could see some of these mayflies showing up soon if the weather stabilizes, so be prepared with a few #16 Callibaetis Sparkle Duns and Hi-Vis Spinners.