That’s the word on everyone’s lips this week. While it is early, with the lower flows and higher water temps we’re seeing this year, the big bugs are stirring into action. Flows as of this writing at 8:20am on Friday morning are 5,460cfs in town. This flow is something we normally see quite a bit later in summer, so things are accelerated a bit with hatches and timing. Get real time flows here.
Water temps need to be above 55 degrees for a period of days before stoneflies really get moving, and we’re definitely there! Temps have been in the 60s for the past week, and looking at the forecast aren’t going to get any cooler.
So where is the hatch right now?
We’ve heard solid reports from above Yankee Jim of bugs being out and fish eating them. While reports from the valley have been spotty, you can find a few in the Point of Rocks to Emigrant stretch.
Guide Kyle Wheeler with a happy client and a great brown from a trip earlier this week.
The big bugs get most active as they warm up, but if you check any of the bank-side willows and bushes where the hatch is, you’ll find them lethargically hanging on in the early morning. Early morning dawn patrols can be a good way to catch some fish and beat the crowds. A solid tactic regardless of what time of day is to fish a Salmonfly pattern right on the bank. Like, bounce it off the willows. If you aren’t snagging up now and then, you aren’t fishing tight enough. Tie on some 2x and have at it.
We’ve got a bunch of different Salmonfly patterns available at the shop, and that should be your go to right now up there. However, don’t restrict yourself to just one fly. Since they’re large and buoyant, a big Salmonfly dry makes a great platform to hang a heavy stonefly nymph from. Or drop a caddis, PMD or Golden Stone off the back. You can cover two different hatches and you’ll never lose track of your flies with that giant fly up front!
We can expect to enjoy this awesome hatch for a while. We can also expect that it will be a busy year for everyone, so be patient, expect to see other people out there, and remember everyone is just trying to have a good time! Be considerate of other boaters and anglers and everyone will get along fine.
While Salmonflies are the biggest attention getters, don’t forget about the other incredible hatches going on right now. We’ve got Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, Caddis, PMDs… It’s a true smorgasbord on the Yellowstone River right now. All reaches of the river are fishing well and the water is in great shape at the moment. If you want to catch trout on dry flies, now is the time!
Other rivers in our area are experiencing about the same thing. It’s a good time to be fishing in Montana! Please keep in mind that as flows are water temps are rising fish are going to get more stressed. Colorado TU published this handy temperature guide:
Photo credit: Colorado Trout Unlimited
If you are fishing during the heat of the day or when things get warmer, use heavier tippet, fight the fish quickly, and keep the fish in the water. Proper fish handling makes all the difference in fish mortality and the continued health of our rivers.
Things are changing and updating quick these days, be sure to stop by the shop or give us a call for the latest info and gear!