It’s brown trout season in the park with all streams hosting brown trout having migrations to spawning areas. Gallatin, Gardner, Gibbon, Lewis, Madison and Snake Rivers are being targeted for productive streamer fishing. Some of us fished the Beaver Meadows of the Madison River yesterday and experienced not only brown trout migrating out of Hebgen Reservoir, but rainbows doing the same. Even the weather participated with overcast skies, no wind, and a drizzling rain. Overflow of fly-fishers from the Park’s West Entrance Highway participated making fishing somewhat crowded, but the further away one traveled from access points the more solitude could be realized. Word was out that the Firehole River BWO hatch was going on big time. So for those folks favoring dry fly fishing for fish to moderate size, this was and likely remains a great location until the park fishing season closes end of the day the first Sunday in November.
Currently flow out of Palisades Dam is at 2090 cfs. A Great Feeder Canal Board project coming on line next week is to perform maintenance work on the Great Feeder (GF) head gates with a proposal to lower flow out of Palisades Dam to 600 cfs for at least three days. To minimize impact on the river below the GF head gates, three canals leaving above the GF will hold increased water that will be diverted back into the river below in an attempt to minimize the project impact on fish. How much of the river will be impacted by this project is unknown at this time, but as soon as we receive information on how much as well as any change in time for this low flow, we will pass it on here. Just be aware that next week fishing and fish well-being in the river below the GF will be effected.
Fishing success seems to depend on who you talk to. Some days fish seem to hit flies (try standard Henry’s Lake patterns) better than others. Around the lake fish are concentrating in shallow water. Include here such as the north shore, Duck, Howard, and Targhee Creek inlets. The State Park is the most crowded location on the lake. We are talking both fish and people here. The county boat dock also gets its share of crowds. Overall fishing is good, but let’s hope this supposedly incoming storm makes action more consistent for everyone.
Several of our irrigation reservoirs continue to have good fishing. Although water at Chesterfield Reservoir is low, boats can be launched. Fish are in good conditions there and, as is the case at Daniels, are taking midge pupa under an indicator as well as damselfly nymph patterns. A pleasant surprise is that Hawkins Reservoir is fishing quite well using the same techniques. Midge pupa patterns presented under an indicator always seem effective at Springfield Reservoir. Blood worm patterns are producing around Island Park Reservoir submerged springs. Things are changing though. As we cool off, fish will seek better sources of easy protein. That means presenting leech patterns on intermediate lines will become increasingly effective.
The Madison River drainage is very popular for fly-fishers these days for two reasons. First, run-up Hebgen Lake browns and rainbows are making for good streamer fishing in the Madison and lower Gibbon Rivers. BWO emergences on the Firehole River and Gibbon River are making for good action, and with a storm likely coming on, could be even better. Outside of the Madison River, Yellowstone River browns are beginning to move into the lower Gardner River. Browns are in the Lewis River Channel big time, but so are anglers. Its the most numerous run of browns in park waters. Strategy for best fishing here is to camp overnight at the outlet, and be on the river at first light, because after the hoards of anglers move in, the browns develop “lock jaw” from resulting human turmoil. The same applies to browns going to the Lewis Lake outlet: stay the night at the nearby campground and get to the water at first light to beat oncoming crowds. Do you prefer presenting dry flies? Terrestrial insects are still numerous along Fall River Basin streams, but likely NFL (not for long).
Most interesting fishing on the lower river remains chasing browns during low light conditions. This means either “up & at ’em early” (like first light) or evenings. If this weekend storm materializes fishing could pick up during daytime hours. So could BWO activity. If you enjoy pitching streamers on a sink tip line, Box Canyon, with its almost impossibly low flow (currently 86 cfs meaning few if any boats), out of Island Park Dam is the place to go. So are The Tubs above Mack’s Inn where the wading is easier than in Box Canyon.
Fishing ranges from good on the Teton River in the basin to slow in the lower Blackfoot River. Afternoon BWO emergences on the Teton River are making for great action, and if the predicted stormy weather happens, this weekend and early next week could be a great time to enjoy this hatch. It might also improve fishing on the lower river where low water has slowed action a bit. Flow out of Blackfoot River Reservoir is down to 67 cfs meaning fish are concentrated in deeper water in the lower river. This combined with the bright skies makes fish skittish. Best place to fish is deeper waters especially where these are bordered by weed beds (overhead cover) which are beginning to break up. Hoppers are plentiful along banks, but a killing frost is not far off in the future.
The South Fork isn’t the only one having a significant drop in flow. Flow out of Mackay Dam was reduced yesterday from 150 cfs to 50 cfs today. It’s great for wading but not for fish. Midging will get you into the fish concentrated in holes and runs.
The flow dropped last night from 4600 cfs to 3100 cfs. We haven’t heard what the eventual winter flow will be but generally it is between 1,000- 1500 cfs by early November. We are seeing good hatches now of Blue Wing Olives and Mahogany Duns. The Streamer fishing has been best early in the morning and then again late afternoon until dark. With the cloudy cool weather coming this weekend we could see some very good dry fly action.