Big bugs are up into Swan Valley meaning plenty of boats there, but PMD life cycle and sally patterns do best in riffles anywhere therefore offering some walk in wade fishing. Before riffle fishing becomes active try rubber legs or even a “Duracel ” jig dropper under your favorite Chernobyl variation. Flow out of Palisades Dam was dropped a few 100 cfs’s. This small of a drop does not impact fishing.
The only current problem with fishing in the park is tourist traffic. Best way to avoid it is to get there early. Yellowstone River above Chittenden Bridge opened to fishing yesterday. We have no reports on fishing there yet, but soon big stoneflies ( already in the canyons below) and then green drakes will bring on activity.
Please avoid fishing the Firehole River below Old Faithful until September. Daytime water temps now get into the seventy degrees F. making playing fish lethal. The Madison and Gibbon ( no salmonids above Virginia Cascade) are also warming up making evenings and early AMs (PMD spinner & caddis life cycle patterns) the best times to fish. The upper Gallatin is shaping up, a bit high but clear, with stoneflies and caddis providing action. Traditional attractor patterns always work well on this stream.
Northeast corner streams are rounding into shape. Slough Creek is a bit high, but clear. Green drakes are beginning with PMDs and yellow sallies providing action there and on other streams. Look for lower section of Soda Butte Creek to become crowded as soon as good fishing arrives. Thunder showers can muddy the Lamar to the point of “you’ll have to wait a day or two.”
Water levels are dropping in all Fall River Basin streams ( Bechler & Fall rivers, Boundary & Mountain Ash Creeks). Terrestrial insect season is around the corner on these streams. PMDs are still around, but in smaller sizes. Beula Lake is offering some of the fastest fishing in the Park. You will need to complete a two and a half mile walk from the Ashton-Flagg Road to enjoy it, but the rewards are Yellowstone cutts with a few up to trophy size. Damselfly life cycle and small leech patterns work well. Soon speckled dun and cinnamon caddis will peak. Pack in a flotation device for best fishing, but wading the inlet and east side gets you into fish.
We are in the time of year when South Fork-Palisades Reservoir tributaries can be destinations.Those going into the reservoir from the south, McCoy and Bear Creek, still hold a few large run-up fish. A well maintained road runs the length of McCoy Creek, a good trail (motorized only for trail bikes) leaves the parking-corral area and runs for miles up Bear Creek. A good non-motorized trail runs for miles up Big Elk Creek (entering from the north) which around mid August features an afternoon western green drake emergence. These streams host only cutthroat trout. Terrestrial, traditional attractor, golden stone, yellow sally, and caddis patterns work best with PMD life cycle patterns the best in mayflies for each creek. Descriptions of campgrounds on these can be seen on the Caribou-Targhee N. F. web site.
Streams coming into the South Fork below Palisades Dam include Burns, Palisades, Pine, and Rainey Creek. Pine Creek is paralleled by State Highway 31 and therefore heavily fished for cutthroat trout. Palisades Creek is the only one with a campground, has a non-motorized trail paralleling for miles, and below Lower Palisades Lake hosts cutthroat and cutt-bow hybrid trout. Rainey Creek, paralleled by a gravel road hosts a diminished population of cutthroat trout, but offers good fishing in its upper reach. Burns Creek is reached from the 12-mile gravelled River Road upstream from Heise. A motorized trail parallels it for miles with the best fishing for cutthroat trout being in its upper reach. The same fly selection given for streams running into Palisades Reservoir apply to these streams.
Big stoneflies are out nearly to Conant. This means a float downstream from there is a good option. Strong PMD activity is ongoing up and down the river, yellow sallys are in good numbers, and a few green drakes remain. When fishing riffles during mayfly activity, use the life cycle progression of nymph, emerger, dun, spinner because fish will key on each of these as the day progresses. Do not overlook the side channels. Presenting super-X or super renegade patterns near overhangs while drifting by remains effective.
Flow in the river is normal for this time of the season, and the future looks good with time-to-time minor flow changes because of downstream irrigation demands.
Lower river is definitely warming, so we suggest fishing in the early AM when spinner falls provide some action. Presenting streamer patterns, especially during early in the day overcast conditions, can bring out some large trout. Fishing the upper river is more consistent with continuing AM and PM spinner falls and afternoon caddis activity. Look for mayfly populations to begin diminishing from the spring-early summer peak and for bank side terrestrial insects to increase in number. Depending on weather (mostly thundershowers and resultant winds ) some good fishing can be found in less crowded spots along the river such as the Coffeepot area, the Tubs area, and the Flat Ranch preserve. Spinner falls, afternoon caddis, yellow sallies, diminishing PMD and golden stones and increasing terrestrial insects will provide interest from trout. From now through Labor Day expect to share the river in Box Canyon and the Big Springs-Mack’s Inn section with floating recreationists.
The choice here is almost endless. Do you want some tranquility? Again your choice is almost endless. Contact us on which may be best based on current information. Do you want to fill a 25-fish legal daily limit of brook trout for an upcoming fish fry? Best candidates for doing so are Little Warm River, Robinson, Sawmill, Beaver, Cottonwood, Trail, and Partridge Creeks.
Flows between 600-700 cfs coming out of Mackay Dam make for treacherous wading below. If flow were cut in half, it would be safer for enjoying the golden stone and western green drake activity soon to come on. We still have no info on the river in Copper Basin, but USGS water flow gages tell us that Basin stream flows are are about normal. So that alone suggests that good fishing should be available.
On the upper river weather determines intensity and fly-fishing success during the PM brown drake emergence. Try to use good weather evenings for best chances. Recreating boaters are coming to Box Canyon, and they have the same right to use the river as anglers. Their numbers peak during mid-day, so to minimize interference consider early AM, or late afternoons for your visit here. AM and PM spinner falls, afternoon caddis activity, PMD,and beginning-to-diminish flav activity give the best chances for success in the Last Chance-Harriman section.
PM caddis activity and the same spinner falls as on the upper river provide good fishing on the lower river. Green and gray drakes provide action, but begin fading out there as the river warms. Another bit of good news is that the South Fork stonefly hatch has transferred many boat away from this part of the river. This week will see rising air temperatures on the lower river and therefore rising water temps.