While we are in the dog days of summer, we got our first tease of changing seasons yesterday. It felt like October in August! The much needed reprieve from the heat and dry was a great breath of fresh air and a good reminder of how soon it will be fall. Late summer always flies by, so make the most of it!
Yesterday’s cool weather pushed water temps down to the low 60s which is a great break from the higher trend we had been seeing Please note that Mayor’s Landing to Sheep Mountain remains closed to all recreation until further notice - we don’t expect this to reopen anytime soon. The reason being the danger posed by the Highway 89 rail bridge. We’ll keep you posted on when it opens back up.
The Hopper bite has been the big news on the Yellowstone recently. While it has been hit or miss when it’s on, it’s on. Bring a variety of sizes, profiles, and colors. Tan and pink have been working best, but yellow, orange, brown, and even blue are worth trying it. Keep shifting colors, sizes, and patterns until you find one that works. Word on the street is that a downstream mend to get your fly pointed downstream can make all the difference. Try it for yourself.
Quick note on fishing hoppers - don’t worry so much about drag. This isn’t a precision cast to a selective trout with a size 18 dry fly during a mayfly hatch. You aren’t feeding them dainty morsels, you’re throwing out a greasy dive bar burger. Let it splat down. Move it a bit. Let it drag some in the current. If you can, toss a couple hoppers from the bank into the river and watch how they move.
Other stuff such as ants and beetles, general attractors and dries and such are a good option. On the really bright and hot days, dries aren’t working too well when the sun is high. The dry fly bites shuts down around 10am and resumes later in the evening when the sun is much lower. During mid day you can still fish dries but hang a nymph below it. A double nymph rig or a dead drifted streamer can be a great choice.
The Lower Madison remains on Hoot Owl and continues to be overrun with the tuber hatch. Our advice? Steer clear.
The Upper Madison continues to fish well, but be aware of the Hoot Owl Restriction from 8 Mile Fishing Access to Ennis Lake. No fishing from 2pm to midnight. Even if you are fishing earlier in the day play the fish quickly, keep them in the water and release them as quickly as you possibly can. Minimizing stress minimizes mortality.
The Madison River is still quite busy, but if you fish early or late you’ll beat most of the crowds. Terrestrials, a few caddis, and hoppers. By this point in the year those trout have seen damn near every pattern every shop sells so think outside the box. Float where and when people aren’t, and try to walk a bit further than everyone else.
Not much has changed on the Gallatin River since our last report. Stay in the canyon, less traffic above Big Sky, expect recreational traffic on the tight canyon stretches. Fish something flashy and buggy as a dry fly and you’ll probably find a few fish. Go early to beat the heat, or stay late to beat the crowds. Rinse and repeat.
High Summer on the Gallatin is a pretty good time, if you go into it expecting to see other people and are realistic about the weather.
Montana this time of year has a host of opportunities. We’ve heard the Missouri River has been phenomenal with hoppers down low and tricos up high. The Boulder River has been fishing well, especially the higher up you go. The Big Hole, Bighorn, Stillwater, and more are all doing alright. If you’re exploring a but just remember some basic principles.
First, fish early or fish late. Beat the crowds and the peak of the day. The fish will be most active when water temps are a bit lower. Second, check the regs for closure and Hoot Owl Restrictions. You can find that here. Third, there isn’t a lot hatching in mid to late August on most waters. Terrestrials and attractors are a solid bet for dry flies almost anywhere in the state. Have a big box to keep trying stuff until you find what they need.
The High Country
As we’ve been talking about for weeks now - the high country beckons. Take the best of several worlds - fishing, hiking/biking, and camping - and roll it all into one. Bam, that’s high country fishing in August in Montana. Go exploring, go catch some small trout in breathtaking places. Load up the pack, lace up the boots, and hit the trail. The mountains are full of place that are worth going to, Pine Creek Lake has been fishing well we've heard.
You’ll never regret it. As long as you pack the bug spray, that is.
The Shop and Livingston
Our shop remains your hub for all things fishing, hiking and biking here in Livingston and our surrounding area. Our great staff is here to answer any and all questions and set you up for success during your time outside. From the right flies to the best fly rods and the clothing to keep you cool (or warm on days like yesterday!) and safe from the sun, we’ve got what you need!
Call us or stop if you need anything. Thanks for reading, we appreciate it.
See you on the water this week!