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.
May 30, 2019
The Firehole and Madison Rivers fished very well during the Yellowstone National Park opener. PMD and Baetis hatches have provided solid dry fly opportunities in the afternoon. Soft hackles like our Micro Beeley and White Miller Soft Hackle have consistently caught trout throughout the day. Nymph fisherman on the Firehole are having great success with PMD and Baetis nymphs like the Split Case PMD #16 and olive Micro Mayflies #18. Black and Olive Woolly Buggers are also a good bet and several anglers have reported catching fish in the 16 to 18-inch range while fishing them. A trout this size on the Firehole is a big trout! This caliber of fish can be caught on dry flies, but such an opportunity demands stealth and flawless presentation from the angler. With warmer weather predicted in the forecast, the flows are going to bump up and water clarity will decline. Nymph and steamer fishing will still be productive when the flows bump but expect to see fewer rising fish. Fly Box: Firehole PMD Sparkle Dun #16, Baetis Sparkle Dun #18, White Miller Soft Hackle, White Miller Razor Caddis, Micro Beeley, PMD Soft Hackle, Split Case PMD Nymph #16, olive Micro Mayfly #18, and olive and black Woolly Buggers.
The Madison below Quake is still a good option and we have continued to have success with Rubberlegs and Baetis nymphs. The fish are hanging out in the deeper, slower pockets. If you are wading around Raynolds Pass and Three Dollar Bridge, try nymphing behind some of the bigger rocks - working both the inside and outside seams. In the afternoons there have been a few fish rising to midges, but overall the dry fly fishing has been limited. In the last few fishing reports, I have said that the river is nearly ready to kick into full runoff mode. I have been wrong, but I think that this will be the week that it bursts. The lack of runoff has extended our spring fishing, but we are ready for it to finally bust so that we can set our sights on stoneflies, PMDs and caddis. Fly Box: Rubberlegs #6-8, olive Two Bit Hookers #18, Lite Brite Perdigones #16, red and black Zebra Midges #16-18, red and brown $3 Dips, pink San Juan Worms, and Prospectors.
The Madison between the Lakes has fished well with the same kinds of bugs we are using below quake. Continue exercising caution while wading between the lakes this time of year, flows out of the dam are subject to change and they are more likely to increase suddenly during runoff season.
The Gallatin is still blown out. If you are really itching to fish the Gallatin, you could nymph the upper sections in the park. The water is not as dirty as below Taylor Fork but it is frigid, so there will be no rush to get there early. Fly Box: Rubberlegs, Prince Nymphs, and red Copper Johns.
On days that the weather has cooperated, we have been fishing on Hebgen Lake. The fish are rising to midges in concentrated numbers on the north shore of the lake. The chironomid fishing is still awesome, and the Driscoll's Midge has remained our favorite fly. Stripping leeches has also been effective. Fly Box: Driscoll's Midge, Ice Cream Cones #14, black Zebra Midges #16, and Balanced Leeches.
The Henry's Lake opener was spectacular for most folks. This was great news because the lake has struggled in the last few years to meet the high expectations it once set for itself. Egg and leech patterns produced the most fish. Fly Box: Otter Eggs, Seal Buggers, and Balanced Leeches.
The big bugs are flying around on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River and if you are planning on fishing here, I strongly recommend fishing between Chester and Fun Farm or between Warm River and Ashton. The salmonflies have been flying around for a few days between Vernon Bridge and Chester. Because of this, the Ora Bridge parking lot is overflowing with guide trucks by 9:30am... The fish in the Ora to Chester sections are eating #6 Rubberlegs and #14 Hot Spot Pheasant Tail Jigs. It has been a struggle the last few days in this stretch to find many fish that are willing to eat adult salmonfly patterns. The salmonflies just started in the Warm River to Ashton stretch. This is in your favor because the fish tend to gorge themselves after the salmonflies have been around for a few days. Fly Box: Chubby Chernobyl Salmonfly #8, orange Sunken Stones #6-8, big Black Rubberlegs, Hot Spot Pheasant Tail Jig #14, and Hot Spot Jig Pink.
May 23, 2019
The long-anticipated opening of the Firehole River and Madison in the Park is upon us, and if the predicted forecast of cool, rainy weather is accurate, there should be excellent opening day action. The cold snap we are currently experiencing has dropped the Firehole over 300 cfs and we are crossing our fingers that it remains cold enough to keep the runoff at bay through the weekend. Look for Baetis and Pale Morning Duns in the early afternoon and White Miller Caddis later if it warms up. These two mayfly species prefer cooler overcast conditions, whereas the White Miller favors sunshine and warmer weather. Make sure to have Sparkle Duns, Foam Emergers, and Foam Nymphs of both mayfly species along with White Miller Razor Caddis. Nymphing and swinging soft hackles will be very effective throughout the next few weeks even as water levels rise, as they inevitably will when the weather turns. Fly Box: Firehole PMD Sparkle Duns #16, PMD Cripple #16, PMD Foam Emerger #16, PMD Foam Nymph #16, Baetis Sparkle Dun #18, Baetis Foam Emerger #18, White Miller Razor Caddis #14-16, Soft Hackles (PMD, Baetis, White Miller, and Peacock & Partridge), Split Case PMD #16, Pheasant Tails #16-20, and Wooly Buggers.
The Madison below Quake has continued to fish very well due in part to recent cold weather, which has protected it from full-blown runoff. The fish are rising sporadically to midges and some Baetis in the afternoons, but strong wind gusts the past few days have kept most anglers from tying on a dry fly. There are a few Skwala stoneflies crawling around so If you are dying to take the indicator off, I would suggest trying on a stonefly pattern like a Chubby Chernobyl and then dropping a Zebra Midge off the Chubby. The nymph fishing has been very productive throughout the river with Rubberlegs, Zebra Midges, and San Juan Worms. A quick reminder that the rainbows are still finishing up spawning, so if you are wading here or between the lakes, use extra caution and avoid stepping on or below areas where the gravel appears to be swept clean. These areas are spawning beds (redds) and if you come across one it is best to walk well upstream of the bed, because the eggs are usually carried a few feet below the redd by the current. Fly Box: Rubberlegs #8-10, red and black Zebra Midges #16-18, brown and red $3 Dips #14-16, olive Micro Mayflies #18, pink San Juan Worm, Scotty's Midge #20, Baetis Sparkle Dun #20, and purple Chubby Chernobyl #14.
The nymph fishing on the Madison between the Lakes has been hot, and the Ghost Village parking lot is consistently full of cars by noon. If you have a spot that you like to fish, it would be wise to get here early. In the mornings the river has been reasonably clear, but as the sun comes out Cabin Creek starts spitting mud and the right side of the river turns turbid fast. All the more reason to get here early. These fish are eating the same nymphs as their counterparts below Quake Lake.
Hebgen Lake has fished well in the mornings with Chironomids and Leech patterns. There have been a few fish looking up for midges but fishing subsurface has continued to produce the most fish. Driscoll's Midge and red Ice Cream Cones have worked best, and the north shore has provided the most consistent fishing. Once the cold front passes, we should start seeing an increase in midge activity on the surface. Fly Box: Driscoll's Midge, red Ice Cream Cone #14, Black Zebra Midge #16, Balanced Leeches, and Scotty's Midge #18.
The first big stonefly hatch of the year in Yellowstone country takes place on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River. However, due to inclement weather, it is running a little behind schedule this year. The salmonflies have yet to show themselves and the big stonefly nymphs haven't made their way to the banks in prolific numbers yet. With the current weather forecast in mind, it could be another week or two before conditions are conducive for the hatch. On the Lower River, fish are eating size 16 tan caddis along with caddis pupae and Rubberlegs. The Box Canyon hasn't seen any dry fly activity yet, but it has been fishing very well with nymphs. Fly Box: tan X-Caddis #16, tan Plan C Caddis #16, red and black Zebra Midges #18-20, black Rubberlegs #6-8, CDC Pheasant Tail Jigs #16, and Spanish Bullets #14-16.
The Henry's Lake opener is this Saturday and if you are looking to catch a 7-plus pound hybrid trout - look no further. You can expect lots of company, but there will be plenty of fish to go around. Fly Box: Seal Bugger #10, Balanced Leech #10, black Zebra Midge #16-#18, and Red Copper Johns #14-16.
May 16th, 2019
Ice is off on Hebgen Lake, and the Chironomid fishing has been exceptional the past few days with the best fishing taking place between 1 and 3 pm. During that window of time, it has been hard to keep fish from eating a Driscoll Midge when suspended 4-5 feet below an indicator. The fish have been active to eat other size 14 Chironomid patterns as well, but the Driscoll has undoubtedly been the hot ticket for us. If you are out on the lake and you aren’t finding productive fishing, don’t hesitate to move to a different spot. There are certain areas where the midges tend to be more prolific than others, and I have obtained notable success when stumbling across those spots. A practical approach to finding such a spot would be to simply mobilize yourself and seek an area of the lake that appears to have more midges on the surface or find an area where the waterfowl have congregated. This time of year, Black Necked Grebes feed with vigor on the insect life that occupies the Lakes surface and I frequently find myself amongst them when I am really getting into fish. The dry fly fishing has however left much to be desired, but it should begin to pick up here in the upcoming weeks. Fly Box: Driscoll Midge, Pheasant Tail Chironomid, Ice Cream Cone #12-14, Tan Super Bugger, and Griffiths Gnat #16.
The Madison River below Quake is currently running with its annual green glacial tinge – signifying the beginning of runoff season. Beaver and Cabin are blown out, and Quake Lake is near its runoff compensation capacity. The Madison will begin to express this fact soon enough, although most weather forecasts are calling for snow Friday through Wednesday. Depending on whether this snow melts or sticks upon its arrival, runoff will either be exacerbated or delayed – only time will tell. Fishing with nymphs has continued providing great success and several fishermen have come into the shop reporting banner days dredging with $3 Dollar Dips and Rubberlegs. The dry fly fishing is sparse, and it will likely remain so until late June. Although this is our current reality, I believe the Madison is shaping up to provide excellent dry fly fishing this year considering this is the second year in a row with water being released from the bottom of the reservoir – which proved to benefit the dry fly fishing we experienced last year. This combined with other quality factors in place like snowpack gives me the impression that our opportunities as anglers will be very favorable in the months to come. Fly Box: Rubberlegs #6-10, Brown and Red 3$ dips #14-16, Prince Nymphs #12-14, Shop Vac #16, Pink San Juan, and Streamers (Prospectors, Sculpzilla’s, and Belly Scratcher Minnows).
The Madison between the Lakes is dirty because Cabin Creek is currently spitting mud into the river. If you are lucky enough to stake out a spot above Cabin Creek you will secure the clearest water in the entire river. Fish big Stonefly Nymphs and Caddis Pupae imitations if you are one of these fortunate persons. Continue exercising caution while wading in between the Lakes this time of year, flows out of the dam are subject to change and they are more likely to increase during runoff season.
With the nice weather that we received last weekend, the Gallatin River is now in full-blown runoff and we won’t be fishing here until late June/early July.
The Henry’s Fork below Mesa Falls has produced notable dry fly-fishing opportunities this prior week with Caddis and March Browns. I suspect a few Blue Winged Olives will come off this weekend with the projected weather forecast. Nymphing has also been effective with Rubberlegs, and serendipity patterns. Fly Box: March Brown Sparkle Dun, Olive X- Caddis #16, Razor Mayfly Baetis #18, Tommy’s Caddis Pupae, Guide Serendipity #16, Olive Miro Mayfly #18, and Brown Rubberlegs #8-#10.
May 9th, 2019
The Madison River below Quake Lake is sitting comfortably at around 1500 CFS, however, this will not be the case for much longer; the weather forecast is calling for highs in the 60-degree range this weekend which will undoubtedly pop the runoff cork. With that said, the water in the wade stretch will remain at its current clarity for a couple of days until Cabin and Beaver creek begin their annual mud spitting festival. One of the many great attributes of Quake lake is it will naturally absorb some of the initial mud spitting typically performed by Cabin and Beaver. As one would expect, the compensatory mitigation is short-lived, and the runoff water eventually diffuses its way through the lake. Nonetheless, I think it is a safe bet to assume the wade stretch above the West Fork will maintain its current level of clarity for a day or two longer. Although Baetis Duns have yet to show themselves in prolific quantities, I would still bring along a few Sparkle Duns just in case. I know of a couple committed dry fly anglers that have found a few fish looking up while walking up and down the banks blind casting. A few days ago, Bucky found a few trout willing to eat a #14 Ausable Wulff that he was using primarily as an indicator fly. The nymphing has consistently produced for us this last week with big Stonefly patterns and various Dip patterns being the preferred flies. If you are looking for some streamer action, this is certainly a good time to be fishing the Madison — black, olive, and natural colors seem to be the most effective right now, but as the water clarity begins to turn, white and other bright colors become more fashionably suited. Fly Box: Brown Rubberlegs #8, Pink San Juan, Brown, and Red $3 Dips #14-16, Crystal Dips #14-16, Red and Black Zebra Midge #18-20, Red Copper Johns and Prince Nymphs #14-16, Baetis Sparkle dun #18, and streamers (Prospectors, Super Buggers, and Zonkers).
The Madison between the Lakes has received a lot of love from fisherman this last week; rightly so, the nymphing in this stretch has been exceptional. With that said, if your fishing plans include fishing this stretch it wouldn’t hurt to arrive a little early and post out a spot — not too early though considering the fishing has been at it’s best in the afternoon. Currently, the bug activity we are seeing between the lakes parallels the Madison below Quake. If you do decide to fish here use caution, there is a realistic chance that the water coming out of the reservoir will be bumped any day now and it could conceivably happen while you are fishing.
The long-awaited ice off on Hebgen lake is upon us, and we have started turning our heads in that specific direction. Chironomid fishing Hebgen in the spring can be quite special. We are still a week or two out from prime-time Chironomid fishing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fish looking for them already. Usually, we like to fish Chironomids a foot off the bottom of the lake, but we have had more success fishing them 3 to four feet below the surface in the last few days. If you are headed this way, I would strongly recommend bringing a crayfish-like pattern in your fishing arsenal — I like to fish a tan Super Bugger for this application. There are a ton of crayfish around this time of year and from my experience, the bigger fish really key in on them immediately following ice off. Fly Box: Driscoll Midge, Tan Supper Bugger, Ice Cream Cones #12 & #14, and Zebra Midges #16.
The Gallatin River is fishing well with nymphs being the name of the game. If you are looking for dry fly fishing here, you have missed your window of opportunity, unfortunately. The Gallatin rose more than 300 CFS in the past two days at Gallatin Gateway and the Taylors Fork is surely blown. With the current weather forecast in mind, it is likely that it will be a month and a half until the Gallatin is suitable for dry fly fishing again. Fly Box: Rubberlegs #8-10, San Juan, Prince Nymphs #14-16, Copper Johns #14-16, and Red/Brown/Crystal Dips #14-16.
The Ruby River has risen from 150 CFS to 285 CFS at Twin Bridges, Montana over the past week and the water has a green tinge to it. Wading below the reservoir has proven to be challenging when the river starts hanging around 300 CFS. If you happen to check the USGS gauges below the reservoir near Alder, you will obtain an unsound reading seeing that a dedicated portion of that water is diverted into irrigation ditches before it reaches the main fishing stretches. Despite the fluctuation in water levels, nymph fishing has remained productive with Midge and Baetis nymphs. However, the dry fly fishing has really tapered off. Fly Box: Baetis nymphs #16-18 (Pheasant tails, Micro Mayflies, Sawyers, and Shot Glass Baetis), Shop Vacs #16-18, various midge patterns (Half Pints, Zebra Midges, etc..), and Streamers (Prospectors and Sculpzillas).
May 2nd, 2019
The Madison below Quake has typically seen its best fishing in the afternoon hours so there is little need to rush to the river. The water level coming out of the dam is sitting at 1790 cfs which is relatively high for this time of year. With this high water, fish will be tucked up close to the banks where the current is not as strong. Dry fly fishing has been sparse, but the nymph fishing has been solid, and the fish have seemed to possess the strongest affinity for Rubber Legs and 3$ Dips. If you are a die-hard streamer fisherman than look no further, with the high water we expect the streamer fishing to develop any day now. Beaver and Cabin Creek were green, however, the cold front that hit us the past couple of days has put a stop to that. Nonetheless, the river at Raynolds Bridge had a slight tinge to it as of yesterday morning. Varney Bridge is undergoing construction right now. If your fishing plans include the Varney access, Text “Varney” to 22828 for construction alerts and updates. Fly Box: Brown Rubber Legs #8, Brown and Red 3$ Dips #14-16, Crystal Dips #14-16, Lightning Bugs and Prince Nymphs #14-16, and Streamers (Prospectors, Super Buggers, and Dungeons).
The Madison between the Lakes is clear, and the nymph fishing has been really good with the same kinds of bugs we are using in the Madison below Quake. Exercise caution when wading between the lakes with high water flows – it is easy to get yourself in trouble here in a hurry.
The Gallatin River was in runoff stages four days ago, but recent cold weather has corked most of that and the flows have dropped from 1,250 cfs to 800 cfs at Gallatin Gateway. As of today, the Taylors Fork is clear and thus the visibility of the main river is ideal. There has been excellent nymph fishing the last few days with Stonefly and Baetis nymphs – principally in the afternoon when the water has had a chance to warm up. We haven’t witnessed a ton of dry fly action yet, but if runoff can stay bridled expect solid Baetis emergences in the afternoon. Fly Box: Large stonefly patterns #6-10 (Rubber Leggs, Euro Stones, and Prince Nymphs), Baetis nymphs’ #16-18 (Pheasant Tails, Micro Mayflies, and Two-Bit Hookers), black and red Zebra midge size #20-22, San Juan Worms, and prepare yourself with Baetis Sparkle Duns and Baetis Razor Mayflies #18-20.
The Ruby is currently experiencing Baetis emergences in the afternoon and nymph fishing has been productive throughout the day with Shop Vacs and Baetis nymphs. If you are looking anxiously for dry fly fishing, you can’t go wrong with the Ruby this time of year. Don’t hesitate to tie on some midge dries as well; personally, I like the Scotty’s Midge because it is easy to see and it’s nothing short of deadly. They did bump the flows out of the reservoir from 50 cfs to 100 cfs, but that shouldn’t have too much of an effect on the fishing in the next couple of days considering they have maintained the flows out of the reservoir well below the mean average up to this point. Fly Box: Baetis duns #18-20 (Sparkle Duns and Razor Mayflies), Baetis Foam Emerger #18-20, Baetis nymphs #16-18 (Pheasant tails, Micro Mayflies, and Split Case Baetis), Shop Vacs #16-18, and various midge patterns (Half Pint’s, Zerba midges, etc..)
April 25th, 2019
Water levels have risen significantly on the Madison below Quake with flows approaching 1900cfs, but there is still plenty of fishing to be had. Dry fly fishing opportunities will be limited, and you'll have to search out the calmest water around to hopefully find a few fish willing to come up. If you do find a few risers, you'll want to have #18 Baetis Sparkle Duns and #20 Scotty's Midges, along with a #12 olive Summer Stone in case you happen to run into a few Skwalas. Nymph fishing will certainly be the best bet right now, and we'd recommend a #8 Rubberlegs, #14-16 brown and crystal $3 Dips, as well as Lightning Bugs and Prince Nymphs in size 16. Streamer fishing can also be very productive in the high water, so don't be afraid to strip an olive/white Prospector or a black Super Bugger along the banks.
The Gallatin has turned significantly off-color over the last few days with the warmer weather, particularly from Taylor Fork downstream. If you do fish here, big nymphs will be the name of the game. Rubberlegs, Euro Stones, large Princes and Copper Johns would all be fine choices, and be prepared with plenty of split shot to get down in the heavier flows.
The Ruby has continued to fish well this past week. Baetis have emerged most afternoons, so be sure to have a few #18 Baetis Sparkle Duns and Black Wing Cripples with you. Nymphs have also been productive, with #16-18 Micro Mayflies, #18 Half Pints and #16-18 Shop Vacs being some of our top patterns. Water levels are currently good here, but be sure to check the USGS gauges before making the trip, as any increase in flow here can turn the fishing off in a hurry.
Hebgen Lake is still frozen for the time being. While it is hard to predict exactly when the ice might finally leave the main lake, we'll keep you posted as it starts to break up and we get closer to full ice-off.
April 18th, 2019
The fishing on Madison lately has been nothing short of fantastic! Great dry fly and nymph fishing can be found on the Madison and it certainly isn't limited to just one or two spots. The water from Quake Lake down to Lyons bridge is probably your best bet for dry fly fishing and you'll want to carry Griffith's Gnats, Zelon Midges, and Scotty's Midges, and you'll want to make sure you have Baetis Sparkle Duns in your box now as well. If you're fishing below the surface, Zebra Midges (both red and black), Shot Glass Baetis, red $3 Dips, red Rainbow Warriors and Rubberlegs and will get the job done.
The Gallatin has been a perfect green color as of late but I would suspect that with the warmer temperatures coming in the next few days that this will turn a little more off color. Nymph and streamer fishing will probably be your best bet with Pat's Rubberlegs in smaller sizes, Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs, Lighting Bugs and Euro Stones. For streamers go with smaller sizes in black or olive. If the water stays clear you will be sure to find fish feeding on the surface to both Baetis and midges, too.
We have had some great reports from the Ruby just in the last few days. The Baetis have shown up in full force and dry fly action has made this little river well worth the trip. Baetis Sparkle Duns in size 18-20 along with Zelon Midges in size 20 should have you covered here. For nymphing, small 18-20 Pheasant Tails, Zebra Midges, and Juju Baetis will keep you occupied until the hatch starts.
The Madison between the lakes has fished well. Rainbows are spawning here currently, so be sure to watch out for the redds in this area and try to walk around these areas or avoid them altogether. Red $3 Dips, red Rainbow Warriors, Juju Baetis, and red and black Zebra Midges are sure to work for you here.