Flow out of Palisades Dam has risen slightly but will not impact the great fishing the river currently offers. Planning to use the Spring Creek boat ramp? Overflow parking is inconvenient, has safety considerations, and rest assured it will get crowded. So the earlier your arrival, the better.
Better days are coming as many of our area still waters, especially those of shallow depth, are experiencing the summer doldrums. Daytimes begin cooling faster and shorten significantly as we get to the end of this month. Cooler water will mean more fish returning to shallow areas, and therefore more easily encountered.
Not much of a change since our last report. Even flow out of Palisades Dam is about the same, and walk-in wade fishing conditions are near perfect. Riffles, banks, flats, and side channels are all producing action. Pink alberts, PMDs, caddis, and hoppers, beetles, and ants bring dry fly action by mid-day. Rubber legs, super renegades and hopper-borne nymph droppers provide day-long wet fly action.
With all the hype surrounding newly created patterns, one of total South Fork reliability is nearly forgotten, except in the minds of long-time South Fork enthusiasts. That would the renegade in sizes 12 and 14. Add some to your fly box and present them dry in riffles, in front of well vegetated banks, and at tops and tails of runs whether in the main river or in side channels. You will be certain about keeping some in that fly box the rest of the season on visiting the South Fork.
Hoppers, caddis and rusty spinners; patterns imitating these provide the best chance for dry fly action up and down the river. Responses to these will be slower on the lower river during daytime, so try them during early morning or evening if you are considering fishing that part of the river.
The western green drake (aka flav hatch) is ongoing on Palisades Reservoir and South Fork tributaries. On most of these streams it is somewhat sparse with that on Big Elk Creek being the exception. If you find the Big Elk Creek event to be well attended by eager fly-fishers, remember that trout awaiting the same event are in Bear, McCoy, Palisades, and Pine Creek. Consider that trout there are present 24/7, and even though the hatch of these flies may be sparse, they are totally aware of and make use of it.
A word of caution if you intend fish Park back country waters during mid-August. The huckleberry season is ongoing and therefore the chance of encountering black and grizzly bears is on the increase. Huckleberry aroma is enticing and can be detected at distance, even by humans. Bears can detect the aroma much more easily and depend on berry crops for food. Consider that ripe berry patches near waters hosting good fishing bring increased potential for an encounter. Thus if you smell huckleberries while in the back country, realize bears do the same, and are likely nearby or on the way to feed. Have bear spray very handy and make noise to announce your presence. If Park officials suggest avoiding certain locations because of feeding bears, consider their suggestions to be excellent advice. Good back country fishing will be present after berry season is over.
The choice here is almost endless. Only a few are worth avoiding. this includes the Blackfoot River below the reservoir, Teton River in the basin during mid-day hours, and small upper drainage streams that have warmed such that fish have moved downstream to more comfortable waters. If you are trying to choose a small stream that currently offers good fishing, let us help. Get in touch!
Madison River, especially Firehole River below Old Faithful, and Gibbon River below Norris are warm enough not to be recommended for good fly-fishing success. Soda Butte Creek, the lowest two meadows on Slough Creek, and Lamar River in roadside meadows are very crowded. There is fast fishing for small brook trout in the upper Gardner River drainage especially away from easy access points. Diminishing green drake activity, PMD’s and evening caddis activity offer some action on the Yellowstone River above the upper falls. Number of cutts are down, but size is up. Streamers are best bet to encounter the larger cutts there. Fall River Basin streams are running a bit high but clear and therefore fishing well. Hoppers and other terrestrial insect patterns are best bets for action. Trico activity should start any time. Beula Lake offers some of the fastest fishing in the park. Shoreline can get a bit crowded from time to time due to boy scout visits from nearby Camp Loll, so pack in a float tube and get out in the lake to fish back towards shorelines with speckled dun, damselfly, and cinnamon caddis life cycle and small leech patterns.
Flow out of Palisades Dam is about 8500 cfs and reduces to around 4300 cfs at Lorenzo. Riffle fishing is holding up very well, and guides know it. That means you might receive company on your favorite riffle from around late morning to just before dinner time. There will be less traffic and more caddis activity during late afternoon, and the further upstream you venture more of the guiding drift boats will be below you. Hoppers are coming on.