September 12, 2019
The Madison below Quake continues to fish well, though the fishing has changed significantly in a week's time. Cool, rainy weather the last few days has slowed terrestrial activity to a crawl, and we've switched over to a variety of small nymphs for the majority of our fishing since the front moved in. Radiation Baetis in sizes 16-18, purple Perdigon Nymphs in size 16 and olive Soft Hackle Perdigones in size 16 have all caught plenty of trout this week along with brown size 16 $3 Dips, size 18 Half Pints and size 18 Micro Mayflies. There have been a few Baetis around in the afternoons as well, though you'll likely have to cover a fair bit of water to find a few risers here and there. Try a size 20 Baetis Sparkle Dun or Baetis Razor Mayfly if you do find fish working. The weather is supposed to warm back up for just a couple days this weekend, so don't put those hoppers away just yet, either.
The Firehole has started fishing quite well with the recent cool down. A few Baetis and White Millers have brought a handful of fish to the surface, though most folks are reporting that soft hackles have been the most effective method for catching numbers of fish. Try swinging White Miller Soft Hackles in size 16, Tungsten Pheasant Tail Soft Hackles in size 16 and Partridge & Orange in size 14 through the riffles and be prepared to catch quite a few fish. White Millers should become more active in a few days as the weather warms, so make sure to have a few size 16 White Miller Razor Caddis, as well as size 20 Baetis Razor Mayflies.
The Madison in the Park has started to produce a few early runners, and it seems like the cold weather has helped push a few more fish into the river. While we wouldn't say that numbers of fish are great just yet, the hardcore anglers are starting to catch them with some regularity, so it's worth poking around on the Madison to see if you can find a big brown or rainbow fresh in from Hebgen Lake. Try swinging Blew on Blues, Shakey Beeleys and Baker's Hole Soft Hackles along with Baker's Hole Buggers and Soft Hackle Streamers if you are seeking out a large fall-run fish.
The Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek have both seen significant increases in flow with this week's rains, so we'd recommend letting these two settle down for a few days before making the trek if you can. Slough Creek should continue to fish, though, so if you are heading there we'd take a few size 12 Drake Mackerel Sparkle Duns and size 22 Slough Creek Baetis Sparkle Duns, along with some size 10 Thunder Thighs Hoppers and Longhorn Beetles for when the weather warms back up in a few days.
Callibaetis activity has died off considerably on Hebgen Lake as the weather cooled, so most successful anglers have switched to subsurface methods to continue picking up fish. Try black or olive Woolly Buggers, Pine Squirrel Leeches, or chironomid patterns for the best chance of success over the next day or two.
September 5, 2019
For now the Madison River continues to fish well with hoppers, beetles and ants, though we suspect that this terrestrial bite will fade a bit with the cooler weather moving in. But with the weather change, be on the lookout for Baetis in the near future. Until this weather arrives, be armed with #10 Thunder Thighs hoppers in pink and yellow, Dave's Hoppers #14, Arrick's Para-Ant and Improved Killer Bees. If you're fishing the Madison early next week, make sure you have a few nymphs like Pat's Rubberlegs #8, $3 Dips #16-18, CDC Pheasant Tail Jig #14, Micro Mayflies #16-18 and Radiation Baetis #18. Also have a few Baetis dries #18-20 with you just in case.
As the Gallatin River continues on a steady drop the fishing has remained good. If you're heading to the park section of the Gallatin don't get there too early, let the river warm up a bit, have an extra cup of coffee or sleep in a little. You don't need to be on the upper Gallatin until 11:00am. Hoppers, beetles and ants have been working well here and should continues until the weather turns. If you need to get on the water early, head downstream towards Big Sky, where the Morning nymph bite has been very consistent. Lightning Bugs in silver and gold #16, red Rainbow Warriors #16, CDC Pheasant Tail Jig #14 and Pat's Rubberlegs #10 are what you will want to have with you.
The Callibaetis are still coming off on Hebgen Lake, but as with the Madison, the cool weather that is heading in starting tomorrow could really slow this hatch down. This doesn't mean that the fishing will shut off altogether, just that you may have to pursue these fish a little differently with smaller streamers and nymphs, especially in the Madison Arm where there are some fish starting to stage to run upstream for the fall.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte will really come into play now and we have seen a few Drake Mackerels over in the northeast corner of the park. Our guide Patrick Daigle was over in this area for a number of days and had good fishing both on Soda Butte and the second meadow of Slough creek. Drake Mackerel Sparkle Duns #14, Longhorn Beetles, Thunder Thighs hoppers in pink, CDC Pheasant Tail Jigs #14, black Zebra Midges #18-20 and make sure you have a few #22 Slough Creek Baetis with you. If the weather man is correct and it clouds up in this area we should see the Drakes pour off!
The Yellowstone River in the park above and below the falls is still a viable option, and as we continue the transition period between summer and fall hatches, be prepared with a few streamers and soft hackles. It's also very likely to see Baetis within the next few days on the Yellowstone so be prepared with some imitation of these in your fly box.
The Firehole and Madison Rivers in the park have still been seeing some high water temperatures as of late so you may want to hold off fishing these two bodies of water for a little while, but keep a close eye on these as the weather is changing and it could only be a matter of a few days for conditions to change.
August 29, 2019
Madison below Quake: According to our research here at BRF, hoppers, hoppers, and more hoppers have still been the ticket here. A Morrish Hopper should still do the trick. Don't forget your Arrick's Flying Ant or a Jake's Gulp Beetle for a change of pace dry when the fish want something a little smaller. It's chilly in the mornings these days, so if you are fishing early in the day you'll probably want to try some nymphs. Give it a go with brown #16 $3 Dips, #18 Half Pints, #18 Radiation Baetis, #16 Copper Quill Nymphs and #16 Spanish Bullets.
Gallatin above Big Sky: Just like on the Madison, it's been beetles, hoppers, and ants for dries. Jake's Gulp Beetle, Longhorn Beetles and a Thunder Thighs Hopper should do the trick for larger flies, while a cinnamon or black Toast Ant would be a good choice for a somewhat smaller dry. For nymphs, try #14 red Two-Bit Hookers, black #18 Perdigon Nymphs, and crystal #16 $3 Dips.
Hebgen Lake: Ants, Callibaetis, and Tricos are the name of the game here. Try a #18 Callibaetis Deer Hair Spinner or Callibaetis Last Chance Cripple when fish are keyed in on the mayflies, and definitely tie on a honey-colored #16 CDC Flying Ant if you see any ants on the water at all. If you're feeling like switching it up, try throwing a dry damsel or hopper, especially once the wind starts to blow a bit.
Northeast Corner of the Park: Drake Mackerels have begun hatching, as have the tiny cream-colored fall Baetis mayflies. A Cripple Drake Mackerel is a great fly to have in your box, along with the classic Drake Mackerel Sparkle Duns and Foam Emergers. Have some little Slough Creek Baetis Sparkle Duns along, too, especially if you are chasing the picky cutts on Slough Creek. Definitely bring your Longhorn Beetles as well as black #12 Morrish Hoppers and pink #10 Thunder Thighs. For dropper flies, try a #14 Pheasant Tail Prince or a #16 Radiation Baetis.
Cliff and Wade Lakes: If you are looking for something different this time of year, consider giving Cliff or Wade a shot. Hatches are typically sparse, but you can pound up a surprising number of fish simply by drifting along the steep hillsides and pitching hoppers and beetles at the bank. A yellow #10 Thunders Thighs and a #10 Longhorn Beetle should be all you need for dries, and you can drop a Split-Case PMD underneath if you like.
August 22, 2019
I fished Hebgen Lake on Tuesday with my good buddies Dan and Doug Pope and we had an absolute blast! Not only was the company good but the hatches of Callibaetis that came off were as good as I have seen them all year. The ants were also very prevalent and the fish were looking up, and luckily the wind stayed down all day. We have had similar reports from other anglers fishing Hebgen and I think that the string of nice weather that we have had as of late has helped out the hatches. An Arrick's Para-Ant #16, Callibaetis Cripple #16, Deer Hair Callibaetis Spinner #16 and gold #12 Chubby Chernobyl worked well for us.
The Madison below Quake Lake also continues to fish very well with hoppers, and like last week the guides have been coming back with great reports on the Madison. Pink Thunder Thighs and tan Morrish hoppers have been the choice for our guides along with Arrick's Para-Ants in #16. Not sure what to tell you on the nymphing end of things on the Madison because we just haven't had to nymph as of late. Also, there have been a couple of bear sightings around the Ruby Access area so keep an eye out if you are in the area!
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte have been ok over the last week and we've had a few mixed reports from the northeast corner of the park. While many folks have been doing just fine over in this area we have had some reports that the fishing was a little off. The folks that have been doing well have been using Longhorn Beetles and pink Thunder Thighs hoppers and have been dropping Spanish Bullets and black Zebra Midges underneath.
The Gallatin has been a good choice but don't worry about getting there too early, give the water a chance to warm up a bit. Start fishing about 10:00-11:00am. If you do want to start early stay down below Big Sky for the morning hours where you'll probably run into midges and even a few small Baetis. Later in day you can expect to see Spruce Moths, and up in the park sections try hoppers and attractor patterns like Royal Wulffs, Parachute Adams and Trudes, which have been getting the fish up to the surface most afternoons.
August 15, 2019
The Madison below Quake really is fishing very well right now, especially in the float sections, and it's some of the best hopper fishing we've seen in many years. Here are a few flies you'll want to have when you head down: Thunder Thigh hoppers in both pink and yellow, User Friendly which has worked well for us as an ant imitation, and also have Aaron's Killer Bee with you. Bees fished along side a hopper have been a great combination for our guides lately.
The Gallatin continues to churn out solid fishing. If you want to have some pleasant fishing, head to the Gallatin Canyon with a few Spruce Moths, beetles or hoppers. The Spruce Moths have been showing up mainly in the afternoons. We've also seen a few caddis and small PMDs buzzing around here as well. There will be fisherman in many of the pullouts, be sure to cruise around and find yourself some space. The park sections of the Gallatin have also continued to fish and the best news is that the biting bugs aren't quite as bad as last week after a couple frosty mornings.
The Yellowstone above the falls has had incredible ups and downs as far as hatches are concerned. 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. Try Thunder Thigh hoppers, purple Chubbies, Jake's Gulp Beetle, Green Drake Spinners and I would also have a tan Super Bugger along just in case.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte have fished ok. Last week we saw a spike in water levels on the Lamar and that turned things off for a few days, but the fishing has gotten a little better with each passing day. As we have said over the past couple weeks, always check the streamflows before heading over, especially if we've had thunderstorms over the previous day or two.
Hebgen Lake has been just ok for dry fly fisherman. The hatches of Callibaetis have been very inconsistent over the past week, much like the rest of this summer so far. Looking at the weather forecast, starting Sunday we should see temperatures in the low 80s, and hopefully with a little more consistent weather the bugs will show up a bit better and stay a little longer throughout the day.
The fishing on the Yellowstone River outside of the Park has been fantastic, especially down toward Livingston and lower. Hopper fishing is the name of the game here. Thunder Thighs, Morrish and Dave's hoppers have all been good choices along with an Arrick's Para-Ant or Spanish Bullet dropper.
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. On these streams use small hoppers in size #14 or smaller, sometimes these little fish will have a harder time getting their mouth around a larger fly.
August 8, 2019
The Callibaetis hatches on Hebgen Lake seem to be getting stronger but it's seems like we are still a week or so behind schedule. There has certainly been enough bugs to get the fish working and more than just Callibaetis on the lake; Tricos, damsels, ants, caddis and even a few traveling sedges have been around in the past week. The Madison Arm area has been the most heavily hit by anglers and it's most likely due to the fact that the insects have been more prevalent in this arm. That being said many other areas of the lake have been well worth checking out. Also remember, when fishing Hebgen stay a bit later than you think you should once the hatch seems to be over. Many times when the wind comes up a little the fish won't be as picky in light chop.
The Madison below Quake Lake continues to fish well and we are seeing good numbers of Epeorus spinners in the morning along with, in certain areas, some spruce moths. Hopper and ants have been bringing up some very nice fish during the day and many of these fish have been in the middle parts of the river. Tan Chewbakka and pink Thunder Thighs hoppers in size #10-14 have been working well for our guides. For ant patterns the Shimazaki, Arrick's Para-Ant and Ant Acid in size 16 have been getting fish to the surface. The caddis activity is still going on in the evening. Bucky has been down there almost every night and is seeing caddis when the weather stays clear, and Epeorus duns and spinners when the storms move in at night. The flies we've been using haven't really changed since last week; have with you Hi-Vis Rusty Para-Spinners #16, tan X Caddis #16, tan Iris Caddis #17, yellow Stimulators #16, yellow and pink Thunder Thighs hoppers #10-14, Jake's Gulp Beetle #16 and Arrick's Para-Ant #16.
Over in the Northeast corner of the park on Slough Creek, Lamar and Soda Butte the fishing has been good. As always check to make sure that the water levels on the Lamar have not bumped up do to any recent thundershowers. We have been seeing PMDs, caddis and even a few gray drakes on these streams and ants, beetles and hoppers are always a good choice in this section of the park. A couple buddies of mine fished their way up the Lamar towards Cache Creek a couple of days ago and had wonderful fishing with hardly anyone around. If you're willing to hike a bit you may want to give this a try. Have with you PMD Sparkle Duns #16, Gray Drake Sparkle Duns #12, tan X Caddis #16, Royal Wulff Cripples #12-14, Longhorn Beetles #10, pink Thunder Thigh Hoppers #10, and cinnamon Arrick's Para-Ant #16.
The Yellowstone above the falls is one of my favorite places to fish! Keep in mind when going over here that a good day is not measured in the numbers of fish you catch, and if you catch one you've had a great day. PMDs, green drakes and caddis are the main hatches here right now and a good sized hopper will typically fool a fish or two. The water level continues to drop and is currently flowing out of the lake at 2560cfs. For flies, have #12 gold and royal Chubby Chernobyls, PMD Sparkle Duns #16, Green Drake Sparkle Duns #12, Micro Mayflies #14-16 and golden stones #10-12.
If you're looking to try something different this week, take about a two mile walk into Riddle Lake. The cutthroat here average around 14 inches and are usually very willing to eat. The Riddle Lake trailhead is about two miles south of Grant Village, and if you go, be sure to bring your bug and bear spray.
August 1, 2019
We've seen thundershowers almost every afternoon this past week and it's made the evening fishing on the Madison below Quake Lake a little hard to predict. We've been rained out quite a few nights but when the wind and rain stay at bay the fishing has been good in the evening with caddis and Epeorus spinners. During the day the fishing has been good with both nymphs and dry flies. There are still PMDs, Yellow Sallies and caddis. We are also starting to have some very good hopper fishing. The hoppers along with an ant or beetle dropper have made for some exciting days while floating the Madison. Even during our warmest days the water temperatures have stayed very stable and have made for great fishing all day. A few flies you'll want to have with you are Hi-Vis Rusty Para-Spinners #16, X Caddis Tan #16, Iris Caddis Tan #17, yellow Stimulators #16, Thunder Thighs hoppers (yellow and pink) #14, Jake's Gulp Beetle #16 and Arrick's Para-Ant #16.
Hebgen Lake keeps getting better and the Callibaetis have started to show up in decent numbers. Don't expect to see these bugs until later in the morning and try to stick it out even if the wind comes up a bit. Along with the Callibaetis we have also had strong Trico activity on the Madison arm. It's hard to miss these as they will be all over your shirt or look like smoke clouds in the air. The gulpers have been getting into their rhythm so be sure to have Callibaetis and Trico Sparkle Duns #16 and #20 respectively, along with Callibaetis Cripples #16 and Callibaetis Deer Hair Spinners #16. If you're looking to drop a nymph off your dry try a black Zebra Midge #18, red Two-Bit Hooker #16 or Aaron's Callibaetis Nymph #16.
The Gallatin both in and out of the Park continued to fish well this past week. If you plan on heading below the Taylor Fork, be sure to check the water levels and clarity as the recent thundershowers can throw a plug of mud down at any time. The Park section has been very consistent this week, and if you're willing to put up with the biting bugs, you'll have great fishing here. Parachute Adams #14-16, Royal Wulff Cripples #14-16, olive Summer Stones #12, Improved PMD Sparkle Duns #16 and tan X Caddis #16. For nymphs have Pheasant Tails #16, Hare's Ear's #16 and silver and gold Lightning Bugs #16.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte have fished well, and as with the Gallatin, be sure to have bug spray and even head nets before you head this direction. Check the water levels, too, especially if you're planning to fish the Lamar. There's still a few drakes hanging around along with PMDs and caddis. Make sure you have hoppers, beetles and ants as the fish are really starting to look for these now. Have with you PMD Sparkle Duns #16, Gray Drake Sparkle Duns #12, tan X Caddis #16, Royal Wulff Cripples #12-16, Longhorn Beetles #10, pink Thunder Thigh Hoppers #10, and cinnamon Arrick's Para-Ant #16.
The water levels continue to drop on the Yellowstone River above the falls and this is making the wading a bit easier. We have had some strong emergences of PMDs and caddis along with some drakes and stoneflies. Take some #12 Chubby Chernobyls (gold and royal), PMD Sparkle Duns #16, Green Drake Sparkle Duns #12, Micro Mayflies #14-16 and golden stones #10-12.
If you're looking for something a little different this week try Yellowstone Lake at either Gull or Sand point. You don't need a boat to fish these two areas and if the wind stays down you can even sight fish to these big Cutthroat feeding on Callibaetis. Give it a shot!
July 25, 2019
Hebgen Lake: We are seeing more and more Callibaetis on Hebgen and when the bugs are out the fish have been on them, but the hatches haven't seemed to last too long. You can expect to see fish rising to midges in the morning hours and then around 10-11:00am you should see some Callibaetis. We suspect the bug activity on Hebgen will continue to get better and better as our daily weather has been consistently warm over the past week or so. A few portions of Hebgen are starting to also see quite a few damselflies and it won't be long before the fish will feed well on these insects, too. Have a few damsel nymphs and dries, Callibaetis Sparkle Duns #16, Callibaetis Deer Hair Spinner #16, Aaron's Callibaetis Nymph #16, Zebra Midges #16-18 and I like to always have a Royal Wulff Cripple #16, which can double well as a flying ant, which you should always be on the lookout for on Hebgen.
Madison below Quake Lake: The Madison continues to fish well and we have been getting great reports from our guides both in the wade and float sections. Expect to see caddis, PMDs, Epeorus, a few green drakes and there are still a few salmonflies lurking about in the wade section. Many of the fish during the day have been pushed out into the faster water and will typically move back in towards the bank during the evening. Speaking of the evening, this has been a little hit or miss for folks, and while the bugs are certainly there each area of the river has fished a bit different. My suggestion for the evening is to fish the upper waters between the Eagle's Nest and the Slide as this has been the most consistent, and be sure to stay as late as you can. As far as flies are concerned, have Royal Wulff Cripples, Iris Caddis (especially for the evening), lime Trudes, Missing Link Caddis #16, Epeorus Improved Sparkle Duns #16, Hi-Vis Rusty Spinners #16-18 and Sunken Stones #8.
Gallatin River: The Gallatin has been good both in and outside of the park. If you're fishing the park waters you don't need to get there super early, let the water warm up just a bit and get started around 10:00am. The salmonflies are pretty much done on the Gallatin but there are still some golden stones. The main hatches have been PMDs, caddis and a few green drakes. Some of our guides have been fishing the Park section and they have caught some very nice fish. Parachute Adams #14-16, Royal Wulff Cripples #14-16, Rogue Golden Stones #12, Green Drake Sparkle Duns #12, yellow Stimulators #12-16, Improved PMD Sparkle Duns #16 and tan X Caddis #16. For nymphs have Pheasant Tails #16, Hare's Ear's #16 and silver and gold Lightning Bugs #16. Be sure to bring bug spay and even a head net if you're heading to the Gallatin! The biting bugs have been relentless.
Madison Between Hebgen and Quake: There's still a few green drakes and salmonflies in this section along with PMDs and caddis. The dry fly bite has been the best in the morning and evening hours. They bumped the water level up just a little bit on Monday which should help to keep a few of those big fish in this section. Have tan X-Caddis #16, PMD Sparkle Duns #16, Royal Wulff Cripples #14-16, Green Drake Sparkle Duns #12, tan Iris Caddis #17 and golden Sunken Stone #8 or a Rogue Salmonfly #6. For nymphs have Flashback Pheasant Tails #14-16, red Copper Johns #16 and Zebra Midges#16-18. Even if you don't see green drakes while you are in this section, take just 30-45 minutes and blind fish in the seams. The fish in this section love them and seem to have a bit of memory for them well after they are gone.
Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte: Fishing has been good in the Northeast Corner of the park, and along with this there has been quite a few anglers in this area, especially on Soda Butte. There have been gray drakes, PMDs and caddis, and as long as we don't get a major thunder shower, fishing should remain good in this area. Slough has fished well in the upper meadows as well as below the campground. Many times the water below the campground is overlooked, my suggestion would be to fish down towards the confluence of the Lamar. While we have had drakes, PMDs and caddis don't forget hoppers, beetles and ants, too, as these fish are suckers for them. For fly patterns, carry PMD Sparkle Duns #16, Gray Drake Sparkle Duns #12, tan X Caddis #16, Royal Wulff Cripples #12-16, Longhorn Beetles #10, pink Thunder Thigh Hoppers #10, and cinnamon Arrick's Para-Ant #16.
Yellowstone River in the Park: We are still getting good reports from the Yellowstone above the falls, and please keep in mind that a good report usually is only a couple of fish in this section. It's extremely rare to have reports in the double digits. The fish in this section aren't many, but they are large. As with all fish on any river, take extra care when releasing these fish and try not to have them out of the water too long. Drakes, PMDs, caddis, golden stones and a few salmonflies are what you'll find on this stretch of water. For flies carry Green Drake Sparkle Duns #12, PMD Sparkle Duns #16, Royal Wulff Cripples #12-16, purple Chubby Chernobyl #10, tan X Caddis #16. If you're looking to increase your numbers, head below the falls and fish around the confluence of the Lamar and the Yellowstone. The fish are more plentiful here and you can use the same flies as mentioned above.
July 18, 2019
Madison River below Quake: The Madison is fishing very well. We are seeing PMDs and some caddis hatches in the morning, with good caddis activity and a few Epeorus in the evening as well. Whether you float or wade, it's a great time to be here! We recommend having PMD Sparkle Duns, tan X Caddis and Iris Caddis, and Black Wing Epeorus Cripples to match the hatches, and a few attractors such as the olive Summer Stone or yellow Stimulator for prospecting when fish aren't actively rising.
Hebgen: The report for Hebgen has not changed too much since last week. We are still seeing a few midges on both arms but not much surface activity, and we are still catching fish with a red Copper John or Split Case PMD. We are still catching them anywhere from two feet to five feet subsurface. We are seeing more Callibaetis out on the lake, and we have had some luck with them on top. Your best bet is still to fish a Callibaetis nymph, but if you see some adults flying around, throw out a dry-dropper and you may get a few hits on top.
Madison Between the Lakes: We are seeing PMDs in the morning, starting around 8:30am depending on the weather. Later in the day, attractor patterns work well, especially a Royal Wulff Cripple in size 12 to 14. If you are looking to nymph, Flashback Pheasant Tails, red Copper Johns and Zebra Midges are fishing well. Caddis at night have been coming on strong, especially down river from the bathroom at the end of Old Ghost Town Road. There are even a few occasional green drakes down there, depending on weather and water temperature. Due to this area fishing well, we are seeing quite a few anglers out there. Early in the morning and closer to dark are generally good times to fish this area if you are looking for less anglers on the river.
Gallatin: Due to the recent rainstorms, the Gallatin is a bit higher and muddier than we are used to at this time of year, especially below Taylor Fork. With that in mind, Rubberlegs, San Juans and soft hackles will be great. On top, we are seeing yellow sallies, golden stones, caddis and a few pmds in the morning, depending on water temperatures. We have had the most luck on the Gallatin below Big Sky, especially around the Deer Creek area.
Henry’s Fork: The Henry’s Fork at Last Chance is fishing alright; the water is a little lower than we like to see. Despite the lower water, we are still seeing PMDs hatch and spinners fall in the morning, starting around 8:30 am and ending around 11:00 am. The fishing has been lackluster in the afternoon, but has been picking up around 7:00 pm until dark with caddis and Flavs. An iris caddis and an x caddis will be good choices, along with a Flav Sparkle Dun.
Northeast Corner: Tuesday night brought cold weather and plenty of thunderstorms. Despite this dreary weather report, Slough, Lamar, and Soda Butte are starting to fish well. Dry fly fishing should continue to improve over the next week, and the whole northeast corner will be fishing great soon. The water is still a little cold and green, but we have been able to get fish to rise on Slough. There are gray drakes and PMDs on Slough, and attractors like the Purple Cripple and the Royal Wulff Cripple have been our go-to patterns when the hatches are not coming off. Soda Butte has still been cold, but an attractor or a Longhorn Beetle with a Split Case PMD ten to fifteen inches behind the dry has been deadly. The Lamar has been slightly muddy but still fishable. The Park Service's electrofishing surveys in this area are finishing up today, so keep in mind that it may take a few days for the fish to get back into the swing of things.
Yellowstone above the falls: We have had good reports from the Yellowstone since the opener on the 15th. Salmonflies, green drakes and caddis are all out in good numbers. We have also caught plenty of fish on larger attractor patterns, such as the Royal Wulff, the Purple Haze and the Adams Cripple. A great dropper to put behind any of these patterns would be a Split Case PMD. It is still to early to judge how many cutthroats are in the Yellowstone this year compared to previous seasons, but keep in mind that there will be large fish regardless of the size of the population.
July 11, 2019
Madison below Quake: If you are looking to fish from sun-up to sun-down, the Madison below Quake is the perfect place. Henley and I put in at Lyons around 7:00am on Tuesday. We started off with a green drake with a $3 Dip dropper and caught quite a few on the $3 Dip. We saw a few PMDs but could not get any fish to hit on them. A caddis hatch began around 9:30am, and we had great luck with an Iris Caddis. Around 10:15, we started getting hits on green drakes. Though we saw very few on the water, the fish were still aggressive in taking them. Unfortunately, we had to get off the water around 11:00 to get back to the shop for work, but the green drakes and salmonflies continued hatching the whole afternoon according to reports we received that evening. We have also had luck with Purple Cripples, Royal Wulffs, and Parachute Adams in the early afternoon. If you want to use a dropper, $3 Dips, Guide Serendipities and Two-Bit Hookers have worked well. The caddis hatches at night have been strong, with bugs on the water anywhere from 6:30pm to 9:00pm some nights. A #14-16 tan X-Caddis and a #17 Iris Caddis have been our go-to flies. We have noticed that on some of the more windy, rainy nights, we have had a harder time getting the fish to rise. On those nights, I have been swinging a #14 Partridge & Yellow soft hackle with much success, starting in the faster water and then letting it hang close to the bank.
Madison Between the lakes: This past Wednesday morning, I saw PMDs below the dam in strong numbers. There were even a few salmonflies out. In the early afternoon, we have been seeing plenty of salmonflies, with the Improved Sunken Stone being our go-to pattern. The caddis hatches mid-morning and in the evening have been good also. The fishing down from Campfire Lodge has been good, with PMDs and caddis in the morning and caddis again in the evening. In the afternoon, an attractor pattern with a dropper has worked well. Later in the evening, the caddis hatches in the slower water going into Quake Lake have been good. I would also bring a few green drakes down there. Even if there are few to none out, those fish may still hit one.
Gallatin: The Gallatin is fishing well now, especially in the area around Big Sky. We have seen salmonflies, caddis and a few yellow sallies. Soft Hackles are a great option in the faster water, especially a Partridge & Yellow. A Purple Cripple, a Royal Wulff Cripple and an Adams are great attractor patterns on the Gallatin. Flashback Pheasant Tails and Prince Nymphs are great patterns for nymphing or to use as droppers.
Hebgen Lake: Dy fly fishing has been inconsistent on Hebgen lately, with decent Callibaetis hatches on some days and very few bugs to speak of on others. We are still a few weeks out from seeing consistent gulpers, but we have seen enough Callibaetis on top that you'll want to have some Callibaetis Cripples and Deer Hair Spinners in your box. Sub-surface fishing has been solid, with Zebra Midges, red Copper Johns, Split-Case PMDs and Callibaetis nymphs working well as either a dropper under a dry or under a bobber. If you are heading here, we'd focus our attention on the Madison and Grayling arms at this time.
Firehole and Madison in the Park: As we get into the middle of July, the Firehole and Madison in the Park have slowed dramatically. Temperatures have risen as high as 77 degrees in the lower end of the Firehole in recent days, and so we recommend leaving these fish be until things cool back down in the fall.
Northeast Corner: The Northeast corner is probably about a week out from fishing really well. We did get a report from one of our guides yesterday that there were a few bugs on Slough, but most of the fish were caught with nymphs. Soda Butte and the Lamar were slow yesterday also. Cooke City, MT is supposed to get scattered thunderstorms from Friday to Sunday, so do keep in mind that the rivers could muddy up in the event of big rainstorms. Make sure to have gray drakes and PMDs, as well as plenty of attractor patterns when you head over to the Northeast corner. A Split Case PMD is a great nymph pattern over there, especially on Soda Butte.
Yellowstone: The Yellowstone above the falls opens on July 15th and we are expecting it to be fishing well. Green drakes, salmonflies, PMDs and caddis should be plentiful. Due to the lake trout in Yellowstone Lake, the number of cutthroats on this portion of the Yellowstone have been down for a quite a while; however, the fish we do catch in there are generally big. Below the falls, salmonflies are out in the canyon, so if you like backcountry fishing, load up a pack, grab your box of big bugs and get walking!
July 4, 2019
The salmonflies have arrived on the Madison River below Quake Lake. These giant insects begin hatching on the lower stretches of the river near Ennis where the water warms up first, and then they work their way upstream, although there is some variability in this pattern due to weather conditions and cold water coming in from the tributaries. Currently, the big bugs are somewhere between Ruby Creek access and Palisades access points. Getting into supreme salmonfly fishing requires near perfect timing. The sweet spot is usually just before the thick of the emergence has gone through the area that you are fishing. If you are too early the fish are not well enough acquainted with them and if you are too late the fish will have little interest in eating them because they have already feasted. There is still plenty of salmonfly fishing to be had on the Madison and I suspect it will be two to three days before the big bugs make it to the wade stretch. The caddis fishing is ramping up every day and we are having a lot of success fishing Missing Link Caddis and tan X-Caddis. With the number of caddis we are already seeing, it looks like it is shaping up to be a great caddis year. There are a few PMDs flying around and fish have been looking for size 16 spinners in the morning. In the next week we will begin to see more and more PMDs. Nymphing has been very productive in the last week with stonefly nymphs and caddis pupa imitations. The slack water behind boulders and the ledges of gravel bars are good places to drift your nymphs right now. Fly Box: Sunken Stone Salmonfly #6-8, Chubby Chernobyl Salmonfly #8, Missing Link Caddis #14-16, tan X-Caddis #14-18, rusty Hi-Vis Para Spinner #16, PMD Sparkle Dun #16, olive Summer Stones #14, Prince Nymphs #8-10, Rubberlegs #6-8, CDC Pheasant Tail Jig #16, brown and crystal $3 Dips #14-16, and Tommy's Caddis Pupa #14.
There has been consistent dry fly action on the Madison River between the Lakes with caddis and various attractor patterns throughout the day. Royal Wulffs, Royal Trudes, and yellow Stimulator patterns are all great attractors to fish with this time of the year. Some years the fish will eat salmonflies here before the big bugs appear at $3 Bridge so it would be wise to pack a few Chubbies in your arsenal. The nymph fishing has remained productive. Fly Box: See Madison below Quake, plus Royal Wulffs #12-16, Royal Trude #12-14, and yellow Stimulator #8-14.
We are still a few weeks out until prime Callibaetis fishing begins on Hebgen Lake. On sunny days there have been enough Callibaetis out to get a few fish looking up, with most of the dry fly action taking place on the Madison arm. Callibaetis Nymphs and Chironomids remain the most effective way to catch fish. Fly Box: Split Case PMD #16, red Copper John #16, Driscoll's Midge #12, Callibaetis Sparkle Dun #16, Callibaetis Foam Spinner #16, and Balanced Leeches #10.
We won't be fishing the Firehole River much now that the water temperature is consistently reaching 72 degrees Fahrenheit plus during the day. If you plan to fish here in the next week it would be best to stay above Midway Geyser Basin where the water is cooler and to start and end your day early.
Salmonflies have arrived on the Gallatin River around Big Sky. The upper stretches are still running really cold, so the fishing has been slow even with nymphs. One more week of warm weather should be enough to get things rolling on the upper Gallatin.
June 27, 2019
Madison below Quake: The Madison is still slightly off color. That being said, the fish are starting to look up and we have been seeing hatches of caddis and PMDs. The salmonflies have been spotted down below Varney Bridge near Ennis and should start to make their way up the river any day now. Make sure to have plenty of Rubberlegs, Guide Serendipities, Pheasant Tails and Perdigon Nymphs for subsurface fishing. With the Madison still moving a bit fast, fish your nymph rig closer to the bank in the seams. As for on top, tan Iris Caddis and X Caddis have been productive during the caddis hatches. For PMDs, we have been using Sparkle Duns, Film Critics and Cripples. A great pattern for the salmonflies would be a Sunken Stone, Jake's Hot Cake or Rogue Stonefly matched to the size of the bugs on the water.
Firehole: The colder weather has made the Firehole more productive than usual as we get into late June. We are still seeing strong PMD and White Miller caddis hatches, as well as Baetis hatches on colder cloudy and rainy days. When there is little to no activity on top, we have been swinging soft hackles. When fishing a soft hackle on the Firehole, let it hang at the end of the swing for a few seconds. The fish have been aggressive in their take when letting the fly hang. We have also been stripping the soft hackle in a few feet before recasting, and have had plenty of fish take it on the strip. For soft hackles, we have had the most success with Peacock & Partridge, Peacock & Starling, Nick's Soft Hackles, and Partridge & Green. During a White Miller hatch you can swing a White Miller Soft Hackle if the fish are taking emergers. As for PMDs, the Firehole PMD Sparkle Dun size 16 has been our go-to fly.
Madison in the Park: As with the Firehole, the Madison in the park is fishing later into June. We are still seeing PMDs and a few White Miller hatches on the Madison. We have been spending most of our time up river from 8 mile, especially from Mt. Haynes to the junction. As far as nymphing, Rubberlegs, Zebra Midges, Serendipities and Pheasant Tails have been most productive. If you're feeling the itch to fish salmon lies and cannot wait till they move up further on the Madison below Quake, you can try throwing some along the undercut banks at the Barns holes. We have not seen them on the Madison in the Park for a little while, but they might still be fresh in the fish's minds. No guarantees, but you might be able to tease one up to take your fly.
Hebgen: The Madison Arm, the Grayling Arm and the North Shore have been great on Hebgen Lake. The Madison Arm has been very productive. If you are bobber fishing, using a Split Case PMD or a red Copper John below a Driscoll's Midge. Over the next week, we will be seeing the chironomids disappear. In their place, use a Callibaetis nymph like Aaron's Callibaetis Nymph. We are fishing between two and a half to six feet deep below the bobber depending on the depth and temperature of the water. The same rig has been working on the Grayling arm, where we have been putting in at Rainbow Point boat launch and fishing the deeper channels either right or left out of the bay. As for the North Shore, we have been putting in at the access road a quarter mile above the High Country Tavern. We refer to this area as midge bay and have been using Skittering Zelon and Scotty's Midges in sizes 18 to 22. We have seen a few Callibaetis flying around on both of the arms. We are still a ways out from primetime gulper season, but if you see fish taking Callibaetis on top, try a #16 Callibaetis Deer Hair Spinner. If you find yourself without one in your box, a Parachute Adams will often do the trick, too.
Lamar, Slough and Soda Butte: Unfortunately, we cannot report that the Northeast Corner is fishing. The same cold weather that has allowed the Madison and Firehole to fish later into June has pushed back fishing in the Northeast Corner. We are expecting it to start fishing around the middle of July, but if we get some hot days, it may fish just a bit sooner.
June 20, 2019
If you are itching to fish dry flies, then look no further than the Firehole River. With snow and rain in our upcoming forecast, the Firehole should see good emergences of PMDs. Sunnier days have brought the various caddis species out in full swing. White Miller caddis have become the most prolific caddis fly along the Firehole, although the river still has healthy populations of Hydropsyche (tan) and Glossosoma also. I carry Iris and X-Caddis patterns for both the Glossosoma and Hydropsyche. For the White Millers, I like the Razor Caddis and White Miller Soft Hackle. White Miller caddis are much harder to imitate compared to other caddis species because they flutter and skid on the water in a chaotic rhythm. The trout key in on this behavior and we have observed that a little drag in your drift is more effective than a perfect drag-free drift on many occasions. Aaron kept this in mind a few years ago when he designed the Razor Caddis, which utilizes a low-profile foam as body material. This foam body allows the angler to skitter or drag this fly across the water more effectively than a traditional dubbed body and it works like a charm. Fly Box: Firehole PMD Sparkle Dun #16-18, PMD Film Critic #16-18, White Miller Razor Caddis #14-16, tan X-Caddis #16, tan Iris Caddis #17, black Iris Caddis #20, White Miller Soft Hackle #16, Partridge and Orange Soft Hackle #16, and March Brown Spider #12-14.
The Madison River in Yellowstone National Park is still a good option and similarly to the Firehole, the fishing will benefit from the predicted inclement weather. Look for PMDs during overcast conditions and caddis when the sun is out. Nymphing with Rubberlegs, small mayfly nymphs, and caddis pupa patterns has been effective.
Everything below Taylor's Fork is blown out on the Gallatin River. The predicted rain will not help the Taylor's Fork's cause, but the good news is, we are approaching the end of our snow reserves. It won't be much longer until Bucky and Hank are fishing the Gallatin outside the park on a nightly basis. The water above Taylor's Fork is pristine but still frigid. Give the upper stretches at least one more week to warm up.
We are getting close to prime dry fly action on the Madison River below Quake. PMDs and salmonflies are probably 10-15 days out, but we should start seeing a lot more caddis this coming week. Nymphing and throwing streamers has been good on most days. Visibility has vacillated a lot over the last week and that has led to some unpredictable fishing. The coming weather will be good for fishing. Be sure to have a few Baetis Sparkle Duns with you if you are going to be here in the next couple of days. Fly Box: Rubberlegs #6, $3 Dip in brown, crystal, and red #14-16, CDC Pheasant Tail Jig #16, black and red Zebra Midges #16-18, olive/white Prospectors #8, white Sculpzilla #8, and pink San Juan Worm #10.
The Madison between the Lakes is fishing well with streamers and big nymphs. We received several reports this last week that fish were eating smaller streamers with vigor in this stretch, especially in the evening. Cabin Creek is still spitting mud, but snowpack is dwindling at a rapid rate and early signs of stoneflies and caddis are prevalent. This is a favorite stretch of river among locals and visitors. If you plan to fish between the lakes during the coming months, it will be wise to get here early in the morning and post out a spot. Just make sure to bring your bear spray...
Hebgen Lake is now 95.5% full. The subsurface fishing has been outstanding the last two weeks with Chironomids and Callibaetis nymphs. Three weeks ago, we were catching more fish on Chironomid patterns, but in the last few days fish have turned from Chironomids over to Callibaetis nymphs. Fish will still eat a Chironomid, but they are really looking for those Callibaetis nymphs now. Stripping leeches has been productive as well - especially during overcast periods. There are a few #14 adult Callibaetis flying around, but not enough to get fish "gulping." Prime Callibaetis fishing is a month out or so. Fly Box: Split Case PMD #16, red Copper John #16, Driscoll Midge #12, Callibaetis Sparkle Dun #16, Scotty's Midge #18, and Balanced Leeches #10.
The Henry's Fork of the Snake River below Mesa Falls is in prime time right now. Green drakes, Flavs, golden stones, PMD duns and spinners, gray drakes, and caddis are all bringing fish to the surface. This is a magical time on the lower Henry's Fork because the drakes and golden stones bring the big browns out of their hidey-holes and into the obvious feeding lanes. The guides and shop staff have been fishing here on their days off and everyone has reported spectacular fishing in the last three days. The Box Canyon continues to be a good option and just this last week, Idaho Fish and Game reported there are 5,000 trout per mile in the Box. That's up from just 2,800 trout per mile in 2018. Fly Box: Green Drake Cripple #12, Double Decker Green Drake #12, Jake's Flav #14, Sunken Stone Gold #8, Hi-Vis Para Spinner Gray Drake #12, Gray Drake Foam Spinner #12, brown Rubberlegs #8, and Spanish Bullet #14.
June 13, 2019
Last weekend's scuzzy weather provided wonderful fishing in on the Madison and Firehole in Yellowstone National Park. Baetis and PMD emergences brought fish to the surface, and the dry fly fishing was spectacular. Anglers fishing streamers and soft hackles caught many fish and several fisherman fishing streamers reported catching 16-18-inch browns in the Firehole. While big fish still aren't common, over the last few years, this caliber of fish has made a bit of a resurgence in the Firehole. The projected overcast weather in the next week will perpetuate the PMD emergences. Make sure to have PMD Sparkle Duns and Cripples if you are going to be fishing the Firehole in the next few days. Looking ahead, as the daily temperatures continue rising, caddisflies are going to become more prominent on the Western side of the park. White Miller, tan Hydropsyche, and black Glossosoma caddis will all be essential trout food. It will be important to carry fly patterns in your arsenal for each of these species. The stoneflies have rebounded after the cold weather we had last week shut them down. Salmonflies are still prevalent on the Madison in the Park and yesterday afternoon, fish were very willing to eat Aaron's Summer Stone on the Gibbon. Fly Box: Firehole PMD Sparkle Dun #16, PMD Cripple #16, White Miller Razor Caddis #14-16, tan X-Caddis #16, tan Iris Caddis #17, black Iris Caddis #20, Improved Sunken Stone, Summer Stone Yellow #14, White Miller Soft Hackle #16, Partridge and Orange #14, Split Case PMD #16, and Rubberlegs #6-8.
The Madison Below Quake went from chocolate milk back to the green glacial tinge with our recent cold snap. The nymph and streamer fishing has been really good in the last week with Prospectors, Rubberlegs and $3 Dip Patterns. There has been a few caddis flying around the wade stretch and we have had success catching fish on caddis dries in the afternoon hours, though the usual summer dry fly fishing on the Madison we know and love is still about two weeks out. Fly Box: Rubberlegs #6, $3 Dip in brown and red #14-16, CDC Pheasant Tail Jig #16, Olive/White Prospectors #8, White Sculpzilla #8, and pink San Juan #12.
The Madison between the Lakes had continued to fish well. Anglers fishing above Cabin Creek have the clearest water in the whole river. The water levels coming out of the dam are at 1,140 CFS, so it is still possible to cross in some of the normal areas. Please exercise extreme caution if you have a spot that you regularly cross at. There are a lot of fish in this stretch of river and right now and they are eating Rubberlegs and caddis pupa patterns. On overcast days, there have been a few Baetis popping off; not enough to get the fish rising, but they will eat Baetis nymphs voraciously during these times.
Fishing is really starting to pick up on Hebgen Lake right now. There are a few of the early season Callibaetis flying around, but prime Callibaetis action is still a month or so out. Callibaetis nymphs and Chironomid patterns are catching fish in the morning and afternoon hours. The North shore is the best place to be if you are looking to catch fish on dries. Striping leeches and Woolly Buggers has also been effective. Fly Box: Driscoll's Midge #12, Split-Case PMD #16 (works great as a Callibaetis Nymph), Callibaetis Sparkle Dun #16, Red Copper John #16, Scotty's Midge #18, and Balanced Leeches #10.
The famed Henry's Fork Railroad Ranch opener is this Saturday, June 15th. The weather forecast is calling for overcast with a chance of thunderstorms. With this weather, you should expect PMDs and perhaps Baetis mayflies to emerge. The Box Canyon still has a few stoneflies flying around, and anglers are catching fish on Chubby Chernobyls and Rubberlegs.
June 6, 2019
If you are going to be in and around Yellowstone Country this weekend, make sure to find some time to fish the Firehole River. The weather forecast is calling for snow this weekend, which is guaranteed get some PMDs and Baetis emerging. If you have never had the opportunity to fish dry flies on the Firehole, now is your chance. The Firehole River has fished very well since the opener and we expect it to continue to fish well throughout the month of June. Dry fly fishing has slowed down with the higher water and warmer temperatures but swinging soft hackles has consistently produced fish. Fly Box: Partridge and Orange #14, Micro Beeley #16, Baetis Sparkle Dun #18-20, Firehole PMD Sparkle Dun #16, White Miller Soft Hackle #16, White Miller Razor Caddis #16, Black Woolly Bugger #8, and Split-Case PMD #16.
The salmonflies have been hatching in the Firehole Canyon and the Madison River in the Park for about a week now. The fishing has been superb in the upper stretches. This weekend’s weather will temporarily slow the salmonfly fishing, but not unlike the Firehole you should expect to see PMDs and Baetis. Fly Box: PMD Sparkle Dun #16, Baetis Sparkle Dun #18-20, Micro Beeley #16, Partridge and Orange #14, Rubberlegs #6-8, and Split-Case PMD #16, and if you are into streamer fishing, try Prospectors, Super Buggers, and Sculpzillas in black or olive.
The Madison below Quake is about to blow! Cabin and Beaver Creeks are rolling, and the upper portion of Quake Lake is chocolate milk. The river is running with a green glacial tinge, but soon it too will be chocolate milk. At Kirby Ranch, the water is running at 2250 CFS, up from 1710 CFS a week ago. If you are planning on floating the Madison, it would be wise to avoid Wolf Creek Bridge between Windy Point and Palisades boat ramps. Nearly every spring someone loses a drift boat at this bridge once the flow becomes too high to pass underneath. In the last week, the river has fished well in the mornings with Rubberlegs and Baetis nymphs - especially in the wade stretch. Afternoons have been slower. If you are a streamer junkie this is a great time to fish the Madison. Fly Box: Rubberlegs #6, Olive Two Bit Hooker #18, brown $3 Dip #14-16, Pink San Juan Worm #12, Sparkle Minnow, Prospectors, Sculpzillas, and Zonkers.
The Madison between the Lakes is much dirtier than it was a week ago due to more mud coming from Cabin Creek, which is nearly covering the entire width of the river now. Runoff is our reality for the time being, but if you want to make the most of it, a pink San Juan worm will be your best friend. Fly Box: Same stuff as the Madison below Quake with an added emphasis on the San Juan.
Hebgen Lake is a solid choice right now with runoff on the lower Madison in full swing. Chironomids and leeches are still the flies of choice, but more and more fish are rising to midges every day. Fly Box: Snow Cones #14, Driscoll Midge #12, Balanced Leeches #12, Traffic Light Diawl Bach #12, black Zebra Midge #16, and Pheasant Tail Chironomids #12.