Mid-summer Report

Update on COVID-19 Directive for Montana.

On Wednesday, July 15th, Montana Governor Steve Bullock addressed his Directive on mandatory use of face coverings. To read the full Directive, click HERE.

COVID-19 and guide trips with T.O.T.F.: To limit the amount of time in a confined vehicle with guests, we are asking all guests to follow their guide to the boat ramp finish location. From here, we ask guests to bring and wear a mask in the guide’s vehicle for the short ride upriver to the launch location (approximately 10-minute drive). When you are finished with your trip, your vehicle and the guides vehicle will be at the take out location. On all walk and wade trips, we are asking guests to follow the guide in their vehicle to the locations where they intend to walk-n-wade fish.

Fishing Report

The good news is we have been busy on the water with guests the bad news is we have had no time to sit down and write a fishing report since May 19th.

Fishing has been good and we are not experiencing the crowds on the rivers as we have in past years during peak season. All our rivers and lakes are in great shape and fishing well. The options are endless!

Madison River –  Fishing continues to be good to great on the Madison River from Earthquake Lake to Ennis Lake. We are seeing some Midnight Stones, aka Nocturnal Stones, around Ennis, and fish are eating both the nymph and the adult stages. Start your morning off with a cream or purple Chubby with a silver lighting bug or a $3 dip dropped off the Chubby (Hopper Dropper technique). Around 11 am-noon, convert over to a hopper and ant pattern and enjoy the afternoon fishing on the surface! We are seeing some great fish coming to the net dead drifting a sculpin pattern under a strike indicator; drop a small nymph off the back of your sculpin such as a size 18 green Psycho Prince and hold on! The lower Madison from Ennis Lake to the Headwaters of the Missouri River is experiencing its annual warm waters with the bikini hatch in full swing. We would highly recommend avoiding this section of the river until mid-September when water temps decline to a more suitable temperature for the trout.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, olive with brown legs – size 12-8
    • Psycho Prince in green, purple and yellow – size 16-14
    • Prince Albert– size 16-12
    • Lightning Bug, silver– size 14-12
    • $3 Dip, brown – size 16-14
    • BH Serendipity, olive and brown – size 14-12
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
  • Dries
    • Adams & Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • M’s Hopper, yellow, pink and tan – size 12-8
    • Thunder Thighs, pink, yellow and brown – size 12-8
    • Ant Acid – size 16-14
    • Chubby Chernobyl, cream, purple – size 10-6
  • Streamers
    • Double Screamer, black/olive, and silver – size 4
    • Tips-up, white – size 4
    • Bow River Bugger, olive – size 8-4

Missouri River – Either the jet boat section below Hauser Dam near Beaver Creek or the drift boat section from below Holter Lake is starting to moss up. Don’t let this discourage you from fishing these two sections of the river. These rainbows are feisty, acrobatic, and are putting on a good show. Caddis, PMD, Sow Bugs and Scuds are the nymphs of choice on the Mighty Mo. We are seeing the PMD’s starting to fade out for the season; however, some days surprise us with a mix of PMD’s in with the Trico’s. Crawfish patterns are picking up some nice fish on the dead drift under a strike indicator too. The dry fly game is becoming more challenging where long accurate casts are required to be successful. Some fish are starting to eat terrestrials in the afternoon when it warms up, and every day is getting better with the terrestrial bite – keep trying them!

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Soft Hackle Sow Bug, pink and tan – size 16-12
    • Lighting Bug, pink & purple – size 16-14
    • Firebead Ray Charles, grey, pink & tan – size 16-14
    • Pyscho Prince, green – size 18-16
    • RS2, grey – size 20-18
    • Tung Dart – size 16-14
    • Split-back PMD – size 16-14
  • Dries
    • Parachute Trico – size 18-22
    • Parachute Trico Emerger – size 18-22
    • Trico Sparkle Dun – size 18-22
    • Thunder Thighs, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • M’s Hopoer, pink yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • Ant Acid – size 16-14
    • Elk Hair Caddis, olive & brown – size 18-14
  • Streamers
    • Kreelex, gold/silver – size 4
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 4
    • Zirdle Bug, olive – size 8 (dead drift as a crawfish pattern)

Yellowstone River – The Stone is in great shape with good flows, clarity, and water temperatures! Nocturnal stones and terrestrials are the bugs needed. This is our favorite time of the year to fish on the Yellowstone as big fish are willing to come up and eat a larger dry fly such as a hopper or Midnight Stone. If you must fish a strike indicator set up, we recommend a Pats Stone, Zirdle Bugs, or sculpin pattern on a dead drift. Drop a small Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle off the back of the big bug. This time of year, if we experience a heavy rainstorm in the back-country of the Lamar drainage in Yellowstone National Park; this will wash muddy water into the Yellowstone River and can make it unfishable for a few hours or a couple of days. If you are scheduled to fish with us on the Yellowstone River, and this happens, we will take you to the Madison River as a backup.

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black, olive, tan – size 8-4
    • Zirdle Bug, olive – size 8
    • BH Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle – size 14-12
    • Hares Ear Soft Hackle – size 14-12
  • Dries
    • Thunder Thighs, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • M’s Hopper, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • Daves Hopper, Yellow and olive – size 12-8
  • Streamers
    • Copper Zonker – size 8-4
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 8-4
    • Bow River Bugger, olive – size 8-4

Jefferson River – The Jefferson River is starting to fill the pain of low water and high water temperatures due to irrigation and hot summer days. If fishing the Jefferson, we recommend getting on the river early and off early, fish from 6 am to 2 pm. We also recommend fishing higher up on the river where the water temps will be a little cooler, such as Twin Bridge to Silver Star. Terrestrials with a nymph dropper are your best options. Fish a San Juan Worm under a Hopper.

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • San Juan Worm, red or orange– size 8-2
    • Squirmy Worm, red, orange or purple – size 8-2
    • BH Lighting Bug – size 14-12
  • Dries
    • Thunder Thighs, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • M’s Hopper, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • Daves Hopper, Yellow and olive – size 12-8
    • Chubby Chernobyl, tan, purple or pink – size 10-6
  • Streamers
    • Double Screamer, black/olive, and silver – size 4
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 8-4
    • Peanut Envy, olive – size 4

Hebgen Lake Hebgen is starting to get good with our annual still water mayfly – Callibeatis. Get on the lake early before the winds decide to pick up. If the winds do pick up, move your location to one of several protected bays on the lake. Start your day fishing under a strike indicator with a black leech and a Callibeatis nymph. Have a dry fly rod ready! Once you start to see fish working the surface, you don’t want to take the time to change your rod. Look for the fish that is feeding more consistently, as you will have a better shot at catching him/her. The fish that feeds more sporadically will be a difficult target. We are seeing some flying ants, spruce moths, and hoppers as well on Hebgen. A great strategy when you have a lot of competition with natural Callibaetis on the water, put on an ant pattern or Hopper on and watch Mr. Fish opt for your fly over a Callibatis!

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • BH Hares Ear, grey – size 16-12
    • Feather Duster Callibaetis – size 16-12
  • Dries
    • Nyman’s DOA Cripple Callibaetis – size 16-12
    • Organza Callibaetis Spinner – size 16-12
    • Thunder Thighs, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • Ant Acid – size 16-14
    • Elk Hair Caddis, tan size 14
  • Streamers
    • Space Invader, black/olive and Yellow/tan – size 6
    • BH Semi Seal Leech, olive or Black/red – size 10

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is open and fishing well. When fishing the Park this time of year, we always recommend the Northeast corner on the Lamar, Slough Creek, Soda Butte, and Yellowstone Rivers. These rivers will have cooler water temperatures, which is better for the fish. Some of the waters on the west side of the Park have higher water temperatures due to the hot thermal water flowing into rivers like the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison. If fishing these rivers, concentrate your efforts above any thermal features and fish earlier in the day when water temperatures are best. Look for and fish the cooler tributaries to these rivers.

A reminder: All of your guided fishing trips on the Northeast corner of YNP are two-day minimum. This means your guide will meet you at a convenient location for you and the guide. Because of COVID-19, we will have you follow your guide to each location to fish. You and the guide will repeat this on day two of your trip. Any trips on the West side of YNP, we will accommodate single day trips.

Three Anglers In A Boat 

We have been receiving a lot of inquirers about fishing three anglers in a boat. We often frown upon having three anglers in the boat for several reasons.

  1. This becomes a liability. Our drift boats and jet boats have U.S. Coast Guard max weight limit for each vessel. If we exceed this weight limit and have an accident we would be at fault. Yours and the guides safety comes first.
  2.  If we were to allow three anglers in one boat, only two anglers could fish at any given time. This means one angler is not fishing. The best scenario for allowing three anglers in a boat is if it happens to be a mom, dad and a child that is young and needs to be with their parent. We would still observe the max weight limit.
  3. 3 persons or 750 lbs – this includes the weight of the guide.
  4. Most guides are not willing to take on three anglers in their boat. It is back breaking-work, and the boat is not as responsive to get you into position when needed.
  5. Everyone will have a more enjoyable and productive day if we can keep the boat to a max of two anglers for each boat/guide.
  6. If we agree on letting you have three people in the boat (plus the guide) the cost is an additional $200.00 on top of the daily rate.

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!