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.