Hello Fishing World!
Fall is upon us here in Big Sky, although you might not know it by looking at the weather report… The last week has been clear and sunny with temperatures hitting the 70’s by midday. The crowds of summer are long gone and many of the locals are off chasing waterfowl and big game. This is the perfect time of year to find some elbow room and really let lose!
It might be mild right now but come ready for anything and remember nice weather for hanging on the porch drinking beer isn’t necessarily good weather for fall fishing. Those cold rainy/snowy/windy days often produce the the best fishing of the season for those willing to brave the conditions. A nice pair of waders with down pants underneath are recommended for the coldest days, and a pair of low light polarized sunglasses can be lifesavers when the wind and the snow pick up.
The fishing on the Gallatin has been good this fall despite the unusually “nice” weather we’ve been having lately. Nymph fishing has been the most productive way to get fish and it will remain so most days until spring. A pats rubber legs about 6 feet from the indicator with a zebra midge trailed of the back is a classic option that gets it done most days. We’ve been doing well on the Fly Formerly known as prince in purple, copper johns, knotty girls, zebra midges and buggers.
Fall streamer fishing can easily have you feeling like a super hero one day and a rank amateur the next. There are all sorts of theories that attempt to explain what makes one day great for streamer fishing and another a bust, they involve pressure changes, cloud cover, temperature, the position of the moon…. It doesn’t matter though, the fish don’t follow the rules we make for them and the only way to truly know is to tie on some junk and start chucking. Even if you only catch one fish it might be the monster you’ve been hunting for all season. If you’re out on the Gallatin a floating line or an intermediate sink tip will work fine. We usually stick to smaller single hook streamers around big sky, copper and white Zonkers, Wooly Buggers, Near Nuff sculpins and Kreelex’s are all good options to throw.
It wouldn’t be a proper fall report if I didn’t touch on the upper Madison in the park. The fish are moving out of Hebgen and the fishing has been good, but this is NOT the place to go if you’re looking for solitude. Expect to see other anglers on this stretch and make sure you can roll with the punches or you may find yourself frustrated at times. Also this is pretty much the only stretch of the park that gets crowded and the rest of the rivers are practically abandoned. The NE corner will provide excellent dry fly options and the Gibbon and the Firehole see lake run fish also. If swinging soft hackles is what you’re after you don’t have to fish in the park, the Madison from Quake Lake to Lyons bridge is a great area for fishing streamers and swinging wet flies plus it’s not uncommon to have huge stretches of these fabled waters all to yourself this time of year.
If the stars align, the clouds roll in and the wind drops you could stumble into some excellent dry fly fishing. The blue winged olives of fall might not hatch rampantly but when they do the fish take notice, keep a dry fly rod ready and don’t put that box of parachutes and cripples away yet! One other sneaky bug to keep your eyes peeled for is the October Caddis, these large orange and tan bugs hatch very sporadically around here but most fish have a hard time passing them up when they float by.
The options are seemingly limitless and we would love to point you in the right direction for your next fall adventure. The river shop will be closed Mondays and open 10-5 Tuesday through Sunday for the off season. Swing by and gear up for you next trip, or just swing by and talk fishing!