Recent rains impacted fishing on Park streams. The Lamar River discolored quite a bit, and Slough Creek had some discolor. Conditions are returning to normal, so go back to trico patterns in the morning, terrestrial patterns during daytime, then caddis life cycle patterns in the evening. We are getting near the time of year when browns and rainbows begin migrations into the Madison River. So get those streamer patterns into fishing shape!
From his experience Jimmy offers that the South Fork is currently fishing as good as it can. He fished the upper river later this last weekend, and had great results presenting a variety of flies. In riffles and shallows fishing dry with a Parachute adams trailed with a PMD trailer was very effective. Throwing a chernobyl ant or hopper pattern with or without a nymph trailer produced against banks. Streamers produced for him later in the day. Mutant stones are out and moving, and each drop in flow out of Palisades Dam exposes more of them. Good fishing here makes sense because water temperature remains consistent and close to optimum for trout, and there have been no major drops in flow to date, just step downs of hundreds of cfs at any time.
Flow out of Palisades Dam was stepped down to just under 8000 cfs over the last two days and water temp there is 61 deg. F. It cools to around 60 deg. F. as you travel down river. It’s all great news for walk-in wade fishing. Select a section of river with riffles and walk in. Do not overlook side channels, especially those holding riffles. We can recommend some candidate locations, so c’mon in. Hitting the banks using hopper and chernobyl patterns from a boat works well, but getting out of that boat to fish riffles works better than floating through them!
Same story: fish the creek mouths and around the springs using an intermediate. Pattern success seems to vary depending on who you talk to. But a sure fire way for success fishing Henry’s Lake is to pick up a copy of “Fishing Henry’s Lake” by Bill Schiess. Bill is generous to the point that he shares all his knowledge on Henry’s, and his book is where you find it completely. Within you will see best location and fly pattern selection information for any time of the fishing season.
From Last Chance to Pinehaven terrestrial patterns will bring the best daytime action. Fish these around overhead cover. For the mayfly enthusiasts tricos and speckled duns are emerging, so their dun and spinner patterns are a must, especially in the morning. In the Coffee Pot area terrestrial patterns are best with caddis life cycle patterns doing well in the evening.
Change your fly-fishing strategy a bit for any small stream that has an increase in flow because of our continued rainy weather. Increased flows tend to wash more worms, grubs, etc into the stream making it easier for fish to get these on the subsurface drift than going to the surface for floating food. Put a few San Juan worms in your fly box, or if you rather not, include some small wooly bugger types. I did better on Robinson Creek earlier this week with (OK, I’ll admit it!) with San Juans that with the dries I love to present. Certainly water levels will drop to normal, and the dry fly fishing that so many enthusiasts enjoy will return soon.
The cool, wet weather we currently have is just what is needed to bring still water fishing back to good times. Water levels are down in most reservoirs, so shallow water benefits the most. Midge pupa patterns under an indicator are working well, for example, on deeper parts of Daniels Reservoir. Deep is where the coolest water is, anyway. Another tip: if damselflies are in the air, that means they are still emerging, so be sure to have nymph and adult patterns in that fly box. Such has been the case with Springfield Reservoir where fishing wet or dry damselfly and speckled dun patterns in the channels around weed beds and around submerged springs has been productive this summer.
Big happening on a lot of streams is appearance of spruce moths. The Gallatin and the Big Hole have famous hatches, but any stream flowing through fir or jackpine forests will have significant hatches of these insect that we are not fortunate to have, except that they attract trout. Best fishing for them is after morning sun warms them enough to fly and mate. Hebgen Lake gulper action has been a bit spotty as of late, but late in the day fishing on the river below has been good when spinner falls or caddis swarms take over. Want a treat with a lightweight system? try the West Fork of the Madison River. You can drive for miles up this stream to catch eager browns, bows and cutts. Nothing big, for sure, but great action in the riffles, runs and pools. It’s another great choice for taking an entry level or physically challenged person.
Here’s a blanket statement for all Park streams with a higher gradient (ie: Gallatin River, Snake River, lower Lewis River, upper Gibbon River, Cave Falls area on Fall River): expect action with caddis life cycle patterns in the evening, spinners in the AM and again in the evening, and terrestrial patterns during daytime. Any day now, as we cool off, tricos will become important enough for fish to take notice on many streams and even still waters. Be assured that as a result there will be many places in the Park that will offer great AM fishing.