It’s time to break out those terrestrial patterns for fishing the upper river. Except for speckled duns, upcoming tricos, and late season BWOs, the big mayfly emergences are over. Long drifts of ant, hopper and beetle patterns in front of bank side cover where water has some depth will one of the best places to target. Breezes will help not only to help obscure your presence, but help drop bugs into the water.
Flow out of Palisades Dam has been lowered only slightly over the past several days. It’s now a bit more than 9500 cfs. The river is warming a bit with water out of the dam now at 60 degrees F. That temperature is not high enough to have a big impact on hatches. Getting into the middle 60s in same degrees begins impacting mayfly hatches. Caddisflies seem to be not as affected. So get out and enjoy those PMDs and pink alberts that makes South Fork riffle fishing so much fun, but be sure to have hopper patterns in that fly box. They are around on the lower river and become more important to fish as the days go by.
Our recent thundershowers and showers benefit regional small streams big time. Flows stay up and water temperatures tend not to rise as they would under drier conditions. Another benefit is that increases in relative humidity before an particularly after a storm enhance aquatic insect emmergences. But for sure it is best to delay fishing for a day or so after a moderate rainfall, or to wait until a stream known to discolor clears up. Some area streams that have benefited from recent rainfall include the South Fork/Palisades Reservoir tributaries (Palisades, Big Elk, Bear, McCoy Creeks), Bitch Creek, Medicine Lodge Creek, Beaver Creek, Diamond Creek, Little Lost River/Sawmill Creek, and the Salt River tributaries. These streams are all uncrowded, and they are beginning to see plenty of terrestrial insects in surroundings. Some host trout to trophy sizes. Get in touch with us for more info on any of them and on other small streams worthy of a visit.
We have good reports from Chesterfield and Springfield Reservoirs. At Springfield try dry damselfly and dry speckled dun patterns. For Chesterfield, fish near the reservation boundary and try renegade patterns on the surface. Are fish taking these for ants? Who knows!
We do not get a lot of information on fishing at the northeast corner of the park, but we have heard that Soda Butte Creek is fishing very well with cutthroat responding to green drake and PMD life cycle patterns. Most of Soda Butte Creek flows along the northeast entrance road, and therefore can become crowded. Crowding increases on approaching the confluence with the Lamar River, so fish upstream from here to minimize company. Speaking of the Lamar River, its also fishing well. But it is a good idea to check weather conditions before a visit because this river has a reputation of discoloring when thundershowers dump on its drainage above its reach along the highway. Beula Lake continues to fish as well as any still water in the park. Gulpers are working these, but when wind comes up, switch to small olive or black leech patterns.
There are now 13 “hoot owl” closures (no fishing 2PM to midnight) on western Montana streams. This closure is applied when in stream temperatures reach levels considered to be dangerous to resident salmonids. To view closures, go to the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks official web site. Then go to Fishing and Waterbody Restrictions and Closures.
Flows continue to drop on the South Fork to now be 9,990 cfs at Irwin. So with more gravel being exposed, I would be more aware of mutant stones hatching and using a Chernobyl Ant. Also, Golden stones along the bank and Pmd’s in the riffles are still constant throughout the entire river system. Fly selection for the South Fork would be mostly dry flies such as: Pink Comparadun size 16 and 18, Super Chernobyl Brown size 10, CFO Flesh Ant size 8 and 10, Harrop’s PMD Captive Dun size 16 and 18, CFO Sally X size 14 and 16.
Lamar River drainage streams are in great shape now. Strong thundershowers can create erosion that can temporarily discolor water, especially in the Lamar River. Right now morning spinner falls, caddis and diminishing golden stonefly activities, and increasing interest from fish in terrestrial insects provide the ways to best success.
The Snake River is another Park stream that can become discolored because of thunder storms causing erosion. It seems more overlooked than the Lamar River, but it offers interesting fishing for those taking time to give it a try. This time of year it hosts brown and Snake River fine spotted cutthroat trout as well as whitefish. All these reach trophy sizes. Caddis life cycle patterns, golden stone fly adult patterns, traditional dry attractor (it’s almost sinful not to try humpys on Wyoming waters!) and terrestrial insect patterns and streamers presented in low light conditions bring interest. The Snake River is easily approached from where it exits the Park. Park at the South Entrance picnic area and head upstream on either side of the river. You will encounter a lot fewer anglers than on the Lamar, Madison, or Yellowstone Rivers.
About the only new aspect is that flow out of Palisades Dam is being slowly reduced. It is now just below 11,000 cfs with water temperature at 58 deg. F. Palisades Reservoir is at 75% of capacity with inflow about half outflow. Fishing remains consistent, so fly pattern and strategy info we have given on recent reports remains good.
Most of our irrigation reservoirs to the southeast are experiencing draw-down. Water in Daniels Res. has dropped, is protected through a conservation pool limit. Twenty-Four Mile Res. is not yet down to “mud flat” conditions, but dropping. Outflow from Chesterfield Reservoir is discolored indicating silt passing the dam. North of us Island Park Reservoir’s west end springs continue to provide action, and Hebgen Lake is seeing some gulper activity. Recently released hatchery rainbows in Harriman Fish Pond will respond as gulpers in the AM to emerging speckled duns. The same is happening at Sand Creek Ponds #1, #4, and Blue Creek Reservoir (Ponds #2 and #3 are not stocked with fish) which are now open to fishing. When wind picks up enough to impact surface and near surface fishing on Sand Creek Ponds, switch to a small black or olive leech pattern. Warm water prevails on Sand Creek Ponds and the Harriman Fish Pond, so take time to fully revive your catch on releasing it.