Firehole River is as good as it gets for this time of year. BWOs and white millers are the reasons. Really big fish are quite rare here, but the nearby Madison River hosts an increasing number of trophy size browns and ‘bows coming up from Hebgen. They are in the river from Madison Junction on down to Baker’s Hole, and they are best encountered when the weather is stormy or at dawn or at twilight. The Lewis River, anywhere above the canyon, also hosts migrating browns. Either place, Madison or Lewis, streamer patterns are the best for meeting up with them. In a few weeks there are more park waters we can recommend for migrating browns.
Flow out of Palisades Dam was lowered yesterday to 4940 cfs ( flow at Heise now 5860 cfs, flow at Lorenzo now 3100 cfs). That action makes for more wading locations than possible at normal mean flow of 6750 cfs for this date. We can can suggest some of the best of the now numerous wading locations. Call or email the shop ([email protected], 208-524-7160). If weather forecasts are correct, the rest of this week looks like “BWO weather.”
The lower river offers some daytime fishing thanks to grass hopper populations. Next week look for fish showing more interest in tiny BWOs because of predicted stormy weather. We are in the season to begin thinking streamer presentation for brown trout especially during conditions like predicted for next week.
The big attraction here is browns becoming active in migrating to spawning areas. Run-up browns (and rainbows) from Hebgen Lake are beginning their move into the Madison River and on to the lower Gibbon River. In the Lewis River system browns are moving from both Shoshone and Lewis Lakes into the river between the two lakes as well as into the river just below Lewis Lake. In total, this Lewis River system run makes the largest concentration of brown trout in park waters. Later this fall the Gardner and Snake River runs will be worth trying. Fishing during low light conditions will be the best time to encounter any of these these fish. Presenting streamers during these times is the best strategy, but large nymphs presented deep also brings results.
Once again the South Fork flow graph for this week looks like a step function. Flow out of Palisades Reservoir was reduced yesterday to 5600 cfs ( now 6400 cfs at Heise, 3870 cfs at Lorenzo) from around 9000 cfs with several smaller drops throughout this week. Flow at this level will open up a lot more wading opportunities but make boating a bit tougher. Next week looks stormy, so look for continued good BWO and mahogany activity.
The current cool weather means the Firehole River is worth fishing again. BWO life cycle and white miller caddis patterns offer good ways to obtain action. So do soft hackle patterns. Be ready for stormy conditions! Look for early in the day trico activity on most streams. Terrestrial insect patterns will continue to work on all streams until a killing frost arrives. Most crowded streams include the Lamar in roadside meadows, Soda Butte Creek, Slough Creek’s lowest meadow (pressure on upper two meadows is thinning), Firehole River, Madison River, and lower Gibbon River on which the upper section is closed due to ongoing native salmonid restoration project.
No drop in flow here but mayfly activity on the lower river is similar (good) to that of the South Fork. Tiny BWOs (pseudocloeon edmunsi) are coming out on the lower river in numbers good enough to interest trout into near surface feeding. That means presenting very small (#18-22) life cycle patterns. Good luck if you tie into a trophy individual using one of these patterns!