Big news here is that speckled duns are now ( we saw their spinners on Shoshone Lake at 8000 feet yesterday during wind-free periods) emerging from most of our still waters. With very warm weather predicted for next week, fishing early and late in the day could be most productive. As water warms up, seek sources of coll water available to trout. This means locate spring holes and fish creek or river inlets.
Big stoneflies are as far upstream as between Quake and Hebgen Lakes. That means lots of folks are fishing this piece of water. Below Quake lake the Madison river is low and warming up. Flow in the Beaverhead River is up and down depending on irrigation demands.
All kinds of bugs are popping out from the river these days. PMDs and green drakes are bringing action. Sallys are emerging from many locations. Caddisflies are out in their usual good numbers.The big stoneflies are on the river as far upstream as Burns Creek. Remembering that fish in the river are now selective, if life cycle patterns of one of the above discussed insects does not seem to be of interest, switch to those of another insect because South Fork trout are famed for not always being consistent with respect to feeding preference. Other than a 500 cfs jump in flow out of Palisades Dam early last Thursday AM, the river has been physically stable for several days. This will result in continuation of good fishing for days to come.
Here’s an FYI for folks wanting to use floatation devices on Park still waters and using the Park West Entrance. Floatation boat permits and inspections are no longer available at the West Yellowstone Visitor’s Center. The nearest they are available is at the Old Faithful Backcountry Ranger Office.
We took float tubes into Shoshone Lake via the Delacey Creek trail yesterday. The lake is low with warmer than normal water (48 deg. F.). Submerged weed beds are not very numerous. Juvenile lake trout responded well to black leech and various steamer patterns featuring black and yellow. The Firehole River is warming, and fewer fly-fishers are trying it as a result. Not many fly-fishers were on the Madison along the West Entrance Road also suggesting slower fishing.
Streams in the northeast portions of the Park (Lamar River drainage) are beginning shape up, dropping and clearing, that is. Some of the best fishing right now in that neck of the woods is at Trout Lake. As we advance in to summer, however, fishing slows there with weed growth and warming waters. If you are considering a visit there, do so in the next several days. Some of the largest cutthroat-rainbow trout in Park waters await you. They may even take that dry damselfly pattern if they are tired of a leech and midge pupa diet!
The Last Chance-Harriman State Park reach of the river is crowded, and rightfully so. One way to beat the crowds is to try the early morning or evening spinner fall. Green drakes and PMDs are going strong, and caddis are everywhere. Any day now brown drakes in the evening will become significant. On the lower river, Warm River to Ashton and below Ashton Dam, caddis and PMDs and diminishing golden stoneflies attract fish. As with the upper river, ant and beetle patterns fished near banks will interest fish. It looks like this will be a lean year for gray drakes in the evenings, but this time of day can be great for presenting streamers around stream side cover out of direct sunlight.
Looks like warm weather is here in a serious manner, and it will effect small streams and still waters the most. Many of them are at their best before waters drop to near base level and warm.
Many of our small streams host beaver ponds. Even the best of these ponds are not much more than several feet deep, and with little movement of water through them, their water tends to warm quickly. So especially for these (Jackknife Creek, McCoy Creek,Cranes Creek, Little Warm River), now is the best time for a visit. Leech patterns in black or olive are always a good choice hese. If you prefer top water fishing, dry damsel adult, and speckled dun patterns work well. So does a hair mouse or frog pattern if very large trout inhabit the pond. Later on, add terrestrial patterns to the mix of patterns to consider.
With respect to small streams in general, those with a large component of spring inflow ( upper Birch Creek, Big Elk Creek, upper Bitch Creek) or lakes with underground outlets (Palisades Creek) have a better chance of maintaining water levels and nice water temps through the summer. But for many other small streams not so fortunate, now is the time to enjoy them, and we can help you make choice.
The bugs are coming out! From about Byington down, Golden Stones and Salmon Flies are hatching with fish eating them. Although, I would take some big bugs with me from Cottonwood down. Also, Green Drakes and Sallies are leading the way up the canyon and are up to Cottonwood. They have been most productive in flats and rifles. Then as you continue further up the river, nymphing and streamer fishing has been good. Also having a few Pmds in that section.The flows have been stable at 14,000 cfs at Irwin allowing the bugs to keep moving up the River.
Fly selection from Cottonwood Down would consist of: Super Chernobyl Brown size 6 & 8, CFO Pink Flamer size 8, Jake’s Hot Cake Salmon Fly size 6, Green Drake CDC Thorax Dun size 10, CFO Sally X Stonefly size 14, Olive Hare’s Ear Parachute size 12, CW Pink Albert Dun size 16 and 18.
Fly selection from above Cottonwood would consist of: Kreelex Minnow Copper/Gold size 6, Sparkle Minnow Rainbow size 6, Bennet’s Seal Rubber Legs Black/Brown size 6 & 8, Psycho Prince Yellow size 16, Pearl Lightning Bug size 16.
With flow out of Mackay Dam right at 500 cfs, wading in the river around Mackay is tough.
For all the irrigation reservoir to the southeast ( Chesterfield, Daniels, Hawkins,Springfield, Treasureton, 24-Mile), damselfly activity is the big happening for interesting fish. Not many speckled duns yet. Now is the time to be on these reservoirs. The low run-off we have had this year means these reservoirs will likely be drawn down by mid summer because of irrigation demands. That will bring on warming waters making for tougher fishing.