Author Archives: MAK

Gallatin River Fishing Report 8/5/2017

It’s been a great summer for us so far in the Big Sky area.  We have experienced excellent hatches and water clarity all summer and are continuing to have some of the best fishing in the state.  Currently a great deal of our state is under “Hoot Owl” restrictions, meaning the rivers are closed from 2pm to Midnight.  Make sure to check with your local shop to be sure the waters you plan to fish are open.  We are very happy to report that our large Canyon section of the Gallatin is not effected by this closure and is fishing incredibly well with good water temps and oxygen levels.


Right now in the Canyon on the Gallatin the fish are looking up for the Spruce Moth and the bite is solid.  Be sure to have a couple of different patterns in your box as with high traffic and pressure, having something just a little different can make all the difference.  We are currently liking the Potter’s Fat Head Moth in a size 14 and a YFC Spruce Moth in size 12.  Mid day and peak sun the surface bite can subside a bit.  Try putting a small dropper off of a larger spruce moth or Chubby Chernobyl.  We have preferred smaller stone fly patterns and caddis nymphs.


Reports have been consistently good from the Upper Madison river with fishing eating on the surface in the mornings and the evenings.  We suggest a Chubby on the surface and trail a rubber leg stone fly.  The Nocturnal stones have been popping so darker colors for your flies has seemed to work a bit better.


Yellowstone river has had its good days and not so good days so far this summer.  With many storms in the area this summer mud and high water levels have effected the river a bit this summer.  With water levels dropping and clarity coming around the hopper and chubby bite should be coming on strong over this next week.  We definitely recommend getting out and taking advantage of the opportunity if you have the chance!


As always stop by our shop anytime to get the latest in fishing reports and all the gear to get you out and keep you comfortable for your day on the river.

Gallatin River Fishing Report 8/11/2016

Hello from Big Sky,

Our Moth hatch has been dwindling for the last few days so we felt it was time for another update. You can still bring some fish up on spruce moths in the early mornings but the crazy berserk style feeding we saw last week is no longer happening. The dry fly bit has still been pretty good, if you head south of Big Sky try a small pink Morrish Hopper or a Nymans fire beetle. In the canyon we’ve been moving fish on Purple Cripples, Moths, and small dark colored Caddis in the evenings. As always nymphing will move fish when the dry fly bite is off and we’ve been having good luck on a variety of small nymphs. Black Psycho Princes, Lightning Bugs, Micro Mayfly’s and Zebra Midges have all been solid flies to float below the indicator. Don’t be afraid to add some split shot and work the more turbulent water. As always swing by the shop or give us a call for the most up to date report!


Gallatin River Fishing Report 7/28/2016

A quick update from the Gallatin, the Spruce Moth is back! After making only a short appearance last summer our favorite area terrestrial has been falling out of trees for the last few days now and the fish have taken notice. The moth can produce great dry fly fishing all day long but the best action is usually in the morning. The moths fall out of the pine trees and hit the water so choose your spot accordingly, more trees=more moths! We are fully stocked up on Moth patterns so stop by and load up before your next trip out!

Fishing Report 7/21/2016

Summer is in full swing here in Big Sky Montana and that means great fishing! While some rivers in our state have been battling with warm water the Gallatin near Big Sky and in Yellowstone National Park will remain cool and clean all summer long. The lower Madison is still under hoot owl closure, no fishing from 2pm to midnight and with the massive amount of floaters and warm water it’s best just to give the fish a break for now. Many people have come by the shop asking about a hoot owl closure on the Gallatin, the closure is on the stretch from shed’s bridge to the confluence of the Missouri in Three Forks. Shed’s bridge is more than 40 miles north of Big Sky so there’s no need to worry about finding fishable water!

The main hatches on the Gallatin lately have been PMD’s earlier in the day and Caddis in the later hours. The small black Caddis that hatch in the evenings can be tough to match at times. If you’re seeing bugs smaller than a size 18 try fishing a griffiths gnat instead of an actual caddis pattern. If you see rising fish in the evening and no caddis you can be pretty sure they’re eating spinners. A rusty spinner in a size 16 or 18 will usually get it done but those fish can be spooky too! During the early hours a pmd cripple or a purple haze in size 16 or 18 is all you really need… In the heat of the day the fishing can get tough, small nymphs in size 18 or 20 fished below an indicator will usually always get it done. Try adding some split shot and fishing the faster more turbulent water, the fish will move into these zones as river gets lower and they see more angling pressure. Lightning bugs, Batman Nymphs and Micro Mayfly’s are a few of our favorite nymphs so far this summer.

If you’re looking for a change of pace try heading over to Hebgen or Quake Lake. Callibaetis will  usually start hatching around 10 and if you catch a nice calm day the dry fly fishing can be spectacular. If there’s no dry fly action you don’t have to turn around and head home. Damsel Nymphs, Zonkers, Buggers, Chironimids and callibaetis nymphs will take fish subsurface. So give us a call or swing by the shop, we have a great selection of lake flies, sink lines and of course local knowledge!

Gallatin River Fishing Report 07/12/16

Hello from Big Sky, Summer is here although you wouldn’t have noticed it if you were staying up high these past few days…. Heavy rain and snow has caused a mud plug to move in from the Taylors fork but as of now the river is trending towards lower flows and well on it’s way to clearing up. Don’t let the slightly off color water scare you away, a greenish tint makes for great streamer fishing and the river still has plenty of clarity for nymphing.

If dry fly fishing is your main objective head up above Taylors fork creek or into the park, the rest of the river will probably be back to its usual form by tomorrow though so don’t go to far. Fish are still coming up for chubbies but until the nocturnals start hatching you may find more luck with smaller flies. Weise’s purple haze cripple’s in 14 and 16 have been hot lately and we’ve even spotted a few larger drakes near Big Sky.

If the crowds are thick along the main river take a hike up one of the many tributary streams. You might not find many monstrous fish, but you will find beautiful scenery, peace, quiet and willing trout! Stop by the river shop and we can point you in the right direction. We have flies, guided trips, licenses, gear and most importantly a knowledgeable staff!

Big Sky Area Fishing Report - 7/6/2016

Gallatin River

If you are looking for an easy, accessible way to get on some fish, look no further than the Gallatin, as it is fishing very well at this time! With golden stones and yellow sallies coming off steadily, and even sporadic sightings of salmonflies returning to the river you don’t have to put your big bugs away just yet. There has also been a great deal of caddis and PMD’s coming off in the mornings and evenings. If you’re fishing in the morning or evening try fishing a Chubby or Stimulator on top and drop either an emerger pattern or bead head nymph off the bottom. During mid-day, nymphing will be your most lucrative option. Running a stonefly pattern with a soft hackle pheasant tail is a good place to start. Make sure you swing and raise at the end of your drift, as many fish will hammer soft hackles on the swing. There have been mixed reports with streamers, but on these sunny days it wouldn’t hurt to run a white zonker through some deeper runs.

Hot Flies: Chubby Chernobyl (Gold)   Royal Stimulator   Crack Back PMD  Morrish Super Pupa   X Caddis.

Madison River:

The Madison is also fishing extremely well right now, the salmonflies have moved through, but the fish will remember! PMDs and caddis are also popping right now, and its the making for some amazing dry fly fishing if you can get out of the wind. There are quite a few different species of caddis flying around, so don’t be afraid to throw the box at them until you find the right pattern. A good place to start would to take a slightly smaller Chubby and run a Shop Vac or Hare’s Ear off the bottom. Nymphing; as always, has been productive with stoneflies, prince nymphs, and even midge patterns. If you have your eyes on the pigs that lie beneath, darker streamers have been producing, but something yellow or white may serve you better on sunny days.

Hot Flies: Chubby   PMX    Shop Vac   X Caddis   Iris Caddis Emerger   Prince Nymph

Gallatin River Fishing Report 6/27/16


Hello from Big Sky,

There’s a buzz around Big Sky this week and it’s Salmon Flies! Pteronarcys Californica has been spotted in large number and at this point the bulk of the hatch is just south of Big Sky. Chasing monster Salmon Flies is a worthy endeavor and can pay off big time when you hit it at the right time, but that isn’t always easy to do… If you’re fishing ahead of the hatch nymphing with a large rubber legs can make for some of the most productive fishing of the year, trail a small mayfly or sally Nymph off of the back and hold on! If you’re fishing big dries do yourself a favor and shorten up that leader. A 4 to 6 foot piece of 3x will get the job done and help turn over those size 4 salmon fly patterns.

It’s easy to be blinded by clouds of massive stoneflies but don’t ignore the rest of the bugs that are hatching, drakes, pmd’s, yellow sallies, caddis and more are all on the menu right now. Purple cripples, X Caddis, purple haze parachutes, chubbies in all sizes and colors flush floater stones, and trina’s para sally have all been moving fish this past week! The weather is great and the bugs are hatching, time to get out and fish!


Fishing Report 5/15/2016


Hello from Big Sky, it’s been business as usual this spring. That means sunny 70 degree days followed by massive snow storms followed by more sun with some monsoon style rain mixed in sporadically… Despite the sometimes adverse weather conditions the fishing can be great this time of year. The Gallatin will come into play for nymphing whenever it cools down enough to change from brown to green, target the slower pockets near the banks with a rubber legs and adjust your depth and split shot until you start to feel the tug. A large streamer can move some monsters if you’re willing to put the time in.

If the Gallatin is blown out or you’re looking for a change of pace the Upper Madison has been absolutely on fire this past couple of weeks. The float section has some mud and about 12 inches of visibility but the reports coming back lately have been solid. Streamers have been moving fish, we like black dungeons for cloudy water on overcast days, white bellydancers. Galloups Bunker and sculpin sparkle minnows are all good options when the sun is shining. Nymph fishing will be the best way to bring fish in, rubber legs, dips, bwo’s and sally’s in 14-18’s will all get it done when the timing is right. Don’t be afraid to change up your flies depth and split shot if you’re not getting them. It’s the Madison they’re in there! The wade section has clearer water and even though it’s been a bit busy lately, with other waters being high and Muddy, the fishing remains awesome. Small yellow sally nymphs and hot bead worms have worked best for us lately but that can change at anytime. The wind has been cranking these past few days but expect to find good dry fly action when the conditions are right. Midges, BWO’s and Caddis are all coming off with stoneflies on the way soon!?

Grizzly Outfitters on the River is open Tuesday through Sunday until Memorial Day weekend when we’ll switch over to summer hours. We are stocked up with flies and gear for the spring/summer season so swing by before your next day on the water or stop by after and let us know how it was!





Hello from Big Sky!

Winter is coming to an end and longer warmer days mean it’s time to return to the rivers. Most of our staff take to the slopes when the snow starts falling but we all enjoy some time spent on the water when the conditions are right. Winter fishing on the Gallatin was good this season and we’ve already seen healthy hatches of BWO’s, Midges, and even a few stoneflies if you know where and when to look…

As we move toward full runoff the river will change from green to brown, green means go! Watch for nights with a solid freeze and fish accordingly, bigger darker water means bigger uglier flies, bright colored worms and streamers that move water. A wise man once told me that the fish don’t leave the river so if you’re itching to fish I say go for it, just make sure you have reasonable expectations. Our favorite flies for the Gallatin this time of year are: Rubberlegs in all sizes and colors, Worms, Eggs, Psycho Princes, Lightnings Bugs, Krafts Kreelex, and classic pheasant tails. New flies are already rolling in for spring so swing by the shop and stock up now!

The Madison is fishing great this spring and with this seasons changes in regulations people have the opportunity to spread out a little bit, just be cautions of spawning fish and give redds a wide berth. Dry Fly fishing has been good when the wind is low and the clouds are out, Griffiths Gnats, Parachutes, and the smoke jumper Midge are a few of our go to fly’s for early season risers. Nymphing will be killer all spring, a rubber legs with a Juju Baetis is a great combo, worms and eggs will get it done especially if we start to see some color to the water. Streamer fishing isn’t fully game on yet but has been decent in the mornings and evenings. Try dead drifting or slow twitching a zonker, bugger, or other small sculpin pattern and be wary of subtle strikes…

The River shop is gearing up for summer! With new flies, new rods, and new gear showing up all the time you never know what you’re going to find. There are lots of new changes to the regulations this season so swing by the shop and pick up a new set!

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Southwest Montana Fishing Report 10/13/2015


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!


Southwest Montana fishing report 9/1/2015

fishy in the water

Hello fishing world, Will here with Grizzly Outfitters river shop in Big Sky Montana. The rivers are cooling and the days are getting shorter as we move forward into fall. Even though the major hatches of summer have come and gone the fishing can be excellent this time of year. With the decline in temperature and bug activity we also see a decline in angling pressure, the cool days of fall can offer both solitude and great fishing for those willing to brave the variable weather.

The larger rivers we fish, primarily the Yellowstone and the Madison, require some different tactics to target the big fish of fall. If you plan to throw large articulated streamers you’re going to want something a little bigger than that trusty old 5 weight. We prefer a 6 or 7 weight rod with a sink tip and a SHORT section of leader material. When fishing with a sink tip and targeting fish holding in big pools it’s important to keep your leader short so your fly will get down into the zone fast. Sink lines can be intimidating as they come in a variety of lengths and sink rates. If you really want to get techy swing by the shop or give us a call and we’ll gladly discuss the pros and cons of all available options, we love playing with new fly lines and “test” our products on a regular basis. Don’t want to get techy? It’s cool there’s an app for that, the RIO line selector app will help you find a line for any fishing situation no headaches necessary.

When it comes to flies it’s just as easy to become overwhelmed, single hook or articulated? Floating or weighted? White or Olive? How does one decide what streamers to throw, it’s not as tough as it sounds. Home invaders, zonkers, sex dungeons, the Montana Mouth wash and sparkle minnows are all good options. I would recommend having a few different colors and sizes but don’t go to crazy. Streamer fishing is a lot about just keeping your fly in the water and waiting for that big fish to chase, to much switching and you may float right past that two footer you’ve been waiting for… Whatever pattern you choose make sure white and olive are well represented colors but don’t be afraid to branch out. Purple, Yellow and Gold have all proven to be deadly when the timing is right.

When your arm gets tired from throwing huge streamers all day you might want to keep your eyes peeled for some blue winged olives. This mayfly is the dominant fall hatch in these parts and can make for some great dry fly action when the conditions are right. Look for cool, calm overcast days if you’re going to break out the dry fly rig. These fish are wary and demand a good presentation, light tippets and small flies are necessary to fool these trout.

Nymph fishing will remain the most reliable way to get fish, rubberlegs, goomie worms, micro eggs, zebra midges and baetis nymphs will get the job done. Don’t be afraid to add some split shot and get those flies down deep, as the weather gets cooler fish will start migrating to the deeper runs and holding there.

Enjoy the fall weather and smaller crowds, be safe, carry bear spray and most important of all have fun!


Gallatin River Fishing Report 08/23/2015


Hello, Will here with Grizzly Outfitters river shop. September will be here soon and that means cooler nights and shorter days. No need to get out with the sunrise, a 9am start will do just fine. We aren’t seeing a ton of bugs hatching these days but anglers continue to bring fish up on a variety of flies. Small hoppers, think #14 morrish, have been working well in the meadow stretches and small parachutes and spruce moths are still getting it done in the canyon. Nymph fishing will be good with many of the usual suspects, knotty girls, soft hackle pheasnt tails, zebra midges, and of course lightning bugs our all on the menu.

Cooler weather and a slow down in hatches means tougher fishing, for the most part…. The streamer fishing on the Gallatin is often overlooked but can produce some of the best action of the year. You usually won’t catch as many fish as you would with the nymph rig but the ones you do are usually quality and you may even find the ever elusive 20″ or bigger Gallatin Brown. They do exist! For the Gallatin I usually don’t fish the big junk that we like to throw over on the Madison. Near Nuff sculpins, bow river buggers, sparkle minnows, and zonkers are all good options but don’t be afraid to branch out. Try to get your fly down deep where the sculpin dwell then twitch it just enough to keep it from getting snagged. Experiment with different strips, twitches and dead drifts till you find whats working and remember, when it comes to streamer fishing some days are just better than others.

However you chose to fish out on the Gallatin be courteous to your fellow angler, give em some elbow room and say hello when your passing by.


big brown

Fishing Report 8/17/2015



Gallatin River-

River Conditions are back to what we like to see after last weeks mud plugs.  Still having fun throwing spruce moths and smaller baetis patterns.  If you aren’t seeing any surface action try dropping a size 16 lightning bug or three dollar dip and be ready to rip some lip!

Hoot Owl restrictions are still in effect below Four Corners and for the entire East Gallatin.  This means that fishing is closed from 2pm – 12am due to high water temperatures.


Upper Madison-

The Upper Madison has provided some of the most consistent fishing in the area.  Recently however the fish have been changing their diet seemingly daily.  Bring your strongest nymph game with you as the dry fly action has been a bit spotty.  Be ready to wave your magic hand over you box in fly choice.  With finicky fish you may have a pattern that works for a bit and then stops entirely.  Don’t be afraid to change bugs frequently.  We suggest trying a Girdle bug with a Zebra Midge training about 16-18 inches behind.  Best chance for dry action has been in the evenings.  Still a few Spruce Moths hanging out in the area and smaller baetis sizes 18-22.


Lower Madison-

HOOT OWL IN EFFECT.  CLOSED TO FISHING FROM 2PM – 12AM.  Due to high water temps and fishes inability to bounce back after being caught we suggest finding other water.  Let these fish be so we are able to fish them when the water returns to non-lethal temperatures.

Best for Bikini hatch between 10am and 4pm. Don’t forget your Chaco’s, sunscreen, and floatable cooler!



This has been a difficult river this summer.  The high volume of heavy rains this summer has meant mud plugs on the Yellowstone.  When we have had a couple of clear days the fishing has been incredibly though.  Hopper bite is still on in this area and has been best earlier in the day.  We suggest a smaller Para-Hopper in size 12-16.  Still not picking ’em up? Try a classic hopper-dropper rig with a flashy nymph.  We like a gold Lightning bug in size 16.


With the recent fires in the area a great deal of smoke is hanging around all of these rivers.  Come in to the shop to pick up a Buff.  Wearing this can allow you to breath a little easier and will cut down on the headaches that can come along with the smoke.  Be sure to stay plenty hydrated!

As always for a more accurate daily report please feel free to give us a call or stop by the shop and pick our brains!  We are always happy to help!


Fish on!


Gallatin River Fishing Report 8/11/2015

Hello fishing World,

Will here with Grizzly Outfitters River Shop, August has arrived and that means cooler nights, shorter days and Spruce Moths! The Moth fishing has been a bit off and on so far this season but that should change soon. This morning we found hundreds of them flying around the shop and the fish are definitely taking notice. Spruce Moths range from size 10 all the way down to 16 and are usually somewhere between off white and tan in terms of color. We usually recommend having a couple different options to try, a snowshoe spruce in a 14 or a fathead in a size 12 will get it done most of the time.

We are seeing the tail end of a lot of our summer/spring hatches which means when the moths aren’t out the dry fly action can be spotty. There are a few yellow sallies bouncing around and the fish have been keying in on the nymphs when they’re present. If you’re fishing south of Big Sky or in YNP you may want to try a small hopper. A size 12 Morrish Hopper in pink is a great fly for fishing the upper stretches of the Gallatin.

When the sun is high and the fish just aren’t looking up, go below the surface. Nymph fishing has been good to great as of late. The rains that come through usually push a little mud through the river and can sometimes leave it a greenish tint for a couple of days. This is a great time to fish Nymphs or Streamers and is often the best time to chase bigger fish. Psycho Prince Nymphs, Rubberlegs, Lighting Bugs, Shop Vacs, Zebra Midges and Pheasant Tails have all been getting it done lately. Take the time to adjust your depth, add split shot if needed and you will get into some fish! A Near-Nuff Sculpin or an Olive Wooly Bugger bounced off the bottom can move em when nothing else will…

As always stop by the shop or give us a call for a more up to date report, we have one of the best fly selections in town and pride ourselves on keeping the good stuff in stock while the fishing is on. As always happy fishing and tight lines!


Gallatin River Fishing Report 8/3/2015

Will here with an update on our favorite local freestone. The Gallatin is low and clear this season but remains one of the best options in the state for cold water and willing trout. Last weeks rain gave us a nice increase in flows but the river is now back around 500 CFS, what does this mean for the fishing? BE STEALTHY! The Gallatin is not typically a match the hatch stream it’s much more important to dial in your presentation, try running a 10ft leader tapered down to 5x and make that drift perfect! This is the type of fishing where a good pair of polarized sunglasses can make or break the day, being able to see the fish and put the fly right in front will greatly increase your chances of hooking up. Swing by the river shop and check out the new Smith Chroma Pop. Compare them to a pair of glass lenses and let us know what you think!

The warmer weather this week has led to the emergence of our favorite terrestrial bug, the spruce moth! This protein packed bug brings fish up to the surface with reckless abandon and can bring some of the best dry fly action of the season. We have the best moth selection in Big Sky and pride ourselves on keeping these crucial flies in stock while the fishing is hot. Try fishing a size 14 in the mornings when the naturals are out then switch to a 10 or a 12 for searching in the afternoon. Don’t be afraid to skate, skitter and sink that moth. Spruce moths aren’t made for the water and when they fall in they usually don’t make it to long, big wary trout will often wait for them to sink before they strike.

For Nymph fishing the usual suspects will get the job done, Pat’s rubber legs pearl, lightning bugs and psycho princes are few good ones to try. Tapering down to 5x fluourocarbon is important in this low clear water even when you’re fishing down deep.

Happy fishing and tight lines!