While moving into the end of August and September means the fishing will be picking back up, just remember the weather we get this time of the year. While it is not the dead of summer, we usually experience hot dry temps. With this comes warm water temperature and less oxygen for fish. Just remember being careful when fighting fish and making sure to give them plenty of time to recover when you release fish is of the utmost importance. Also avoid fishing during the late hot hours of the day and get out early and enjoy the morning fishing. With that being said, get out and enjoy the time while you can because summer is coming to an end.
Flows have dropped in the Box to around 600 cfs. While this is low for this year it is at a good water level for the fishing. If you are fishing Box Canyon your best bet is to have a nymph tied on, whether you are dry dropping or nymphing. While fishing I would be focusing on the deep runs and the pocket water where you expect fish to sit. Play around try and find the bottom and when you do judge your depth and keep it there. Some good patterns to use would be a size 12 Black Rubberlegs or a Duracell Nymph. If you want to throw a dry dropper, I recommend a size 10 Raspberry Chubby. If you do want to switch things up especially on these rainy overcast days try throwing a Sparkle Minnow or a Copper Zonker pattern.
Conditions on the ranch have changed over the last few weeks. Fewer hatches and lower water levels are noticeable. It’s that time of the year to start stalking up on terrestrials. It’s also not the worst idea to sleep in a bit. If you’re looking to get an early morning in on the ranch you still could have some luck on rusty and Callibaetis spinners or PMD patterns such as a hackle stacker or a halfback PMD emerger. By the time the late morning hits I would have a terrestrial box locked and loaded. While we think of the ranch as a technical sight fishing dry fly fishery this is the time of year you can get away with throwing a few blind casts with a hopper until you start to see some activity. Patterns to have in your box would be a parachute hopper, green machine hopper, honey ant, and foam beetles. Have it all so when the time comes, and you have your target you will have whole arsenal of bugs to throw at those fish. Remember it is the end of August, these fish have seen a lot of anglers and bugs this year. You really are going to have to start working on getting a good drag free drift and try to put that fly right in front of them. The less space the less time those fish must make the decision whether to eat or not.
Mesa Falls to Ashton
The fishing down below Mesa Falls has been spotty the past couple of weeks. There has not been a great report that has come from Cardiac Canyon but your best chances would be dry dropping or streamer fishing this section. The easier section to float WR-A has been similar. With the warm weather we are seeing there has not been much going on for hatches unless you are on the water early in the morning or late in the evening. If you do choose to go and float this section or fish from either boat ramps you should be dry dropping and nymphing most days and on these stormy overcast days stripping streamers off the bank. While you might think to look for the deep faster moving pockets many of these fish are sitting in the water that is only two feet deep. With the warm temps it requires less work for these fish so look to hit the banks with a dry dropper rig and try to get a long drift. Some good patterns to use would be a raspberry chubby, tan Morrish Hopper or a Water Walker. Under this you could tie on a red zebra midge size 14, olive bullet quill size 16, also a small rubberleg size 12 could work well. This section is especially an area you want to be careful fighting those fish. With it not being directly controlled by a dam this water will be on the warmer side and it is important to be ethical when fighting fish, and as I have said before take your time when releasing fish.
Below Ashton Reservoir
Well folks, for below the reservoir I would be living for days like this past weekend. The last time we had overcast, rainy, cold weather the streamer fishing was lights out. It’s also the time of the year to being stripping anyways so it’s time to hit the fly shops and start stocking up your streamer box. Thankfully after a mid-season lull the lower river is starting to pick-up. It has still been hit or miss some days but when it’s hitting it is the best we’ve seen it in the last month. It’s also that time of the year to be throwing big bugs up against the bank. If you are heading down to the lower river, I would have hopper dropper box prepared and have your streamers on you. For hoppers a Mongo Tan hopper or a More or Less Peach hopper would be great to have in your box. While you might see success fishing the middle of the river your best bet is to get a cast a few inches off the bank. This is where many of the fish are sitting to conserve their energy. Similar with streamers, hit the banks, let it sink quickly then give it a few good strips and throw it right back in there. If you’re in need of streamers then stop in and grab some Sparkle Minnows, Goldies, and some Lil Kims. If you’re the person that wants to get out and fish after school or work until dark be prepared to see a late caddis hatch come off just before dark. If you switch over to these smaller bugs look for the pockets behind rocks on the bank and target rising fish that are sitting in the slower water. This is such a good time of the year on the Henrys Fork with things starting to pick up again but as I have said before being mindful of the hot temps. The only way for us to keep getting excited about fall fishing is if we preserve the good fishing that we have so be careful with fish and give them the time that they need.
If you are looking for an early morning adventure, then get down to the South Fork and fish the mutant stone hatch while you still can. The word on the street is that it has been good! The South Fork has been the one consistent river for the past few months in the area. While the entire river hasn’t been fishing great if you know where to go and what to use then you can usually pick up some good fish. Flows coming out of Palisades Reservoir is sitting at 9,880 cfs. Overall, from the reports we are hearing in the shop is that the lower sections of the river are fishing better than the upper. As I said if you are out early right at the crack of dawn you could have some stellar fishing with mutant stones. Mutant stones are a nocturnal stonefly hatch that we see this time of the year. I’d have your other big bugs on you because it sounds like if you hit it right the hopper bight will turn on shortly after the mutant bight turns off. For mutant stone patterns you could fish an Berrett’s Mutant Stone and have a Sweet Grasshopper on the ready. Just like everywhere else, when things cool down and get overcast then bring out the streamers.
Hopefully the hoppers will turn on any day now on the Madison, and when I say any day, I mean it. You will only know if you get out there. Flows coming out of Hebgen Lake on the Madison are sitting at 1,020 cfs. From the report I have heard is the hopper bight is on right now down below Varney Bridge so soon enough it will hopefully be moving its way up. If you’re looking to get some pre-hopper fishing in, then get out there with a drop dropper rig during the day. As I’m sure you have heard all season it’s a Chubby down to a nymph. Some good patterns to use could be a size 16 Redneck, Size 16 Black Bullet Quill, a Pheasant Tail. If you’re just wading, then head to Reynolds Pass or Three Dollar bridge and walk the banks and fish the pocket water against the banks or behind rocks. Another great option if you’re looking for some more scenic fishing would be to go fish between the lakes. It’s the same deal there, find a good slick and work it with a dry dropper. Later in the evening if you see bugs coming off it is either caddis or other smaller mayflys. Some good bugs to have for backups for this situation would be a Rusty Spinner size 14, Mathews X-Caddis in a 16, or a Parachute Adams in a size 16. Just like the Henry’s Fork the Madison is seeing very warm temps during the later day. Try to be out early and off early, and again be careful with fish.
The Teton is flowing at 346 cfs near Driggs and picking up to 679 cfs down near St. Anthony. If you are looking to head down to the Teton then get your dry dropper box. A Morrish Hopper to a Bullet Quill or a Duracell could be your best friend for the day. You still might have some luck running a spinner pattern behind a larger dry but when the hopper fishing is good it’s hard to not want to focus on that.
If you are looking to head into Yellowstone to do some fishing, then head to the Northwest Corner or go fish the Yellowstone. It’s still too early to be fishing anywhere near the West Entrance. The Yellowstone is flowing at 1,740 cfs. If you’re headed that way, then I would be on the lookout for Green Drakes and then hoppers as well. If you’re looking for a lot of options to fish, then I would head to the Northwest corner and bring your hopper dropper box. You have the option of fishing the Lamar and Soda Butte and a Pink Thunder Thighs Hopper or a Chubby on top to an Olive Bullet Quill has been killer up there. Slough Creek has been running low this year specifically in the upper meadows but if the hopper bight is on up there it could be worth the hike up in. If you just want to be easy on yourself then dry drop the lower meadow. If you want to avoid the crowds of the park, then head up towards Big Sky and fish the Gallatin section in the park. This can be good hopper fishing this time of the year.
To conclude this fishing report for this week, just remember the warm temps. I know you are seeing this probably too much, but you always must be thinking about it. This can be the warmest and driest time of the summer so treat the fish with respect and know that they might need a little extra time to recover. Always have this on your mind but still get out and enjoy the fishing. As we move into our fall fishing things could get going any day now so the only way to know is to get out and spend time on the water.