Category Archives: Fishing Reports

Gallatin River and Area Lakes Fishing Report 07/20/2015

Hello all,

Will here with Grizzly Outfitters river shop, the Gallatin remains an excellent option for fishing in southwestern Montana right now. The dry fly bite has been a little slower the past few days with the cooler temps but people are still bringing fish up all day with the best action being late in the evening. Caddis and PMD’s are the main fare right now but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some other bugs around. Don’t be afraid to fish a larger parachute if you see bigger mayflies, even if they aren’t widespread the fish will key in on them. You may also notice a few larger stoneflies around, don’t be afraid to fish some big dries! You may not get as many but searching with a size 10 black and purple chubby can bring some big fish to the surface. Nymph fishing has  been very productive lately, rubber legs, pheasant tails, and lightning bugs will all find fish. We’ve been having good luck on tungsten bead king prince nymphs, pearl lightning bugs and anything purple! The purple UV prince nymph has been awesome and the purple craze parachute has fished great on top. Something about the color purple that just gets those Gallatin fish all riled up…. If you’re hunting for larger fish try an olive Near Nuff sculpin, fish it near the bottom and get out early!

The lake fishing around Big Sky is a great way to escape the crowds and can lead to some beautiful fish in some beautiful locations. A lot of people come into the shop asking about high lake fishing and it can often seem like a daunting task. If you’re interested in fishing dries be ready for some selective trout. In the clear calm water of a mountain lake the fish have a lot of time to inspect your fly, long fine leaders are the ticket for this kind of fishing. More often then not your best bet will be to go deep and fish nymphs. A black or olive wooly bugger stripped SUPER slow is a tried and true method for catching lake fish, try trailing a small scud or midge off the back. Creek mouths, points, drop offs and weed beds are all good areas to target when lake fishing. If the fish are really tricky you might want to try fishing with an indicator, go eight feet to the first fly and twelve inches from that one to the dropper. Experiment with different twitches and retrieves, I like to use a slow retrieve and count my flies down after each strip, patience is key! Damsel Fly nymphs, little green machines, red zebra midges and rainbow Czech scuds are a few of my favorites and will get it done on most of the lakes around Big Sky.

Hebgen and Quake lake are just down the road from Big Sky and offer the opportunity to chase some truly massive fish. When the winds are down, the clouds are out and the stars align you can have some truly amazing dry fly fishing. Long leaders and fine tippets are the recipe on this still water even more than others in the area, the bugs range in size from twelve down to eighteen depending on the time of year so have a range of your favorite mayfly imitations. Klink Adams, AP Galloups Mayfly, T’s Carnage Drake and a the trusty old royal wulff are a few that work for us but everyone has there favorite so don’t be afraid to experiment. The nymphing tactics we use on the high lakes will work well on Hebgen also, one other fly to throw into the mix is the clouser crayfish. A boat is a great way to explore the lake but there are plenty of options for shore fishing. Swing by the shop and we’ll point you in the right direction.

On some days the river can seem quite crowded, the canyon North of Big Sky draws the most anglers but the fishing south of here can be excellent. Explore some new water and have a chat with someone you’ve never met before, who knows you may find your new favorite spot or learn your new favorite fly. Whatever you chose to do be polite and try to give your fellow anglers a little elbow room.

Happy fishing and tight lines,                                                                                                    -Will

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Fishing Report 7/12/2015

Gallatin River:

With the afternoon rain storms and lower temperatures the Gallatin is coming back to life! Even with this cooler weather, the lower Gallatin from Sheds Bridge (near Four Corners) downriver to where the Gallatin meets the Maddison is on Hoot Owl Restriction, no fishing 2:00pm till Midnight.  This means fish Big Sky! Even though this week looks like the temperatures will be in the 70’s during the days and 40’s at night, morning and evenings will be the better times to get out and fish.  During the day if you find some time to get out, look for riffle water, up against the banks and that slower water tucked behind little rock patches.  PMDs for mornings, rubber legs afternoon and by evenings Caddis!

Don’t forget to keep your eyes out for the infamous spruce moth.  We are starting to see signs of them in the area.  No significant hatches as of yet but we expect to see it any day now!

 

Fly Suggestions:

Pearl & Elk Caddis

PMDs

Royal Wulff

Chubby Chernobyls

Purple Lighting Bug

Kyles BH Yellow Sally

Pats Stone Rubber Leg

 

Yellowstone River:

Rain and more rain to come.  The Yellowstone has been going from kind of muddy to muddy and back again! Checking daily for the water clarity is key.  When the water starts clearing up, the fish have been hitting in the deeper, cooler water.  Also try up along the banks and anywhere that has shade.  Looking ahead at the week’s weather, looks like more rain and some wind!  Look for smaller hoppers that are starting to show their faces. Areas on the river where the muddy streams are merging, try fishing the muddy line with a streamer for one of those BIG BOYS we all love!

 

Fly Suggestions:

Caddis

Royal Wolff

Dark Rubber Legs

Girdle Bugger

SH Copper John

Sculpin

 

Upper Madison River:

The Maddison between Hebgen Lake and Ennis Lake has had some cooler water.  This cooler water has been some of the most consistent in the area and that has been helping with some great fishing!  Fishing early mornings with PMDs has had great results and Caddis in the evenings.  In the afternoons fish are not hitting as hard, try a rubber leg or a small streamer. Looking at the week to come, weather seems to be staying a little cooler then these past weeks so get out and fish!

 

Fly Suggestions:

Caddis

PMDs

Yellow Sallies

Zebra Midges

Evan’s Iron Lotus Olive

 

Lower Maddison:

Hoot Owl Restriction from Ennis Dam to the Missouri River, No fishing 2pm to midnight. The water is warm on this part of the Madison.  It’s better to let the fish hang out and grab your friends and check out the Bikini Hatch! If you do find yourself up at sun rise and want to fish try a PMD with a dropper or try a streamer.

Gallatin River 7/7/2015

Hello fisher folk,

Will here with Grizzly Outfitters on the river, a plug of mud moved through the Gallatin below Taylor’s Fork yesterday and last night but it’s clearing up quick. There is still a greenish tint to the river near big sky but plenty of visibility for some nymph fishing. Try a black stone fly with a goomie worm dropped of the back and you’ll find fish. The river should be clear enough for dries by the afternoon and there are certainly a lot of bugs to chose from. Caddis, mayflies and a few yellow sallies will be the main ticket items to look for but you may be surprised with a larger drake or even some late hatching stone flies! Don’t be afraid to fish a larger parachute, think size 12, or even a smaller stone fly like a size 12 purple chubby. Keep your eyes peeled for the spruce moth!! You can never be sure when this terrestrial will make it’s first major appearance but when it does you’ll want to be ready!

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6/30 Gallatin River

Hello fisher people!

The Gallatin is dropping fast this year and all of the hatches seem to be just a little bit ahead of schedule. You may have noticed that some fish were a little reluctant to eat dry flies after the salmon fly hatch, now that they’ve had a few days to digest they’ll be looking up for more big meals! A size 10 golden chubby is a great option for searching the fast canyon water for hungry fish. Don’t forget to fish the shallows! It’s not uncommon to see the back of a nice brown trout break the water as they move into the shallow water to feed. Mayflies and Caddis are also popping up all along the river and can make for some great action. Fast water and an abundance of bugs mean that matching the hatch is not usually necessary, try a purple haze parachute or a royal wulff cripple in a size close to the naturals and you’ll do great. CDC caddis Blooms Caddis and the classic elk hair will all take fish when the caddis flies are out. When fishing the Gallatin it’s much more important to have a good presentation then it is to match the exact hatch, focusing on that perfect drift is essential! Dry fly fishing is awesome but some days the fish just don’t want to come up to eat, that doesn’t mean they aren’t hungry. Rubberlegs, pearl lightning bugs, pheasant tails, trout crack and little green machines are just a few flies to try floating below an indicator during the heat of the day. Start with your point fly about 5 feet from the indicator and a smaller fly about 12 inches below that. Add splitshot about 8 inches above the first fly and adjust depth until you start catching fish, and remember just like with the dry it’s all about the drift! As these hot days continue many rivers will become to warm for good fishing, the Gallatin will stay cool and fish well throughout summer while other rivers shutdown to protect the fish. We are happy to call this river home and are always here at the river shop to point you in the right direction.

Tight Lines!

-Will

Fishing Report 10-25-2014

Gallatin River

While the river is running clear and weather has been good, the fishing has been a little slower. Action has been better in the afternoons and evenings. As it has been getting down there at night, with recent lows around 28 degrees, allowing the temps to come up a bit will be beneficial.

The majority of fish caught recently have been on smaller dries and nymphs. Our recent recommendations have been dry/dropper rigs, such as Stimi Chew Toy Lime 10-14 with a Baetis Nymph 16-20 trailing about 12-18 inches behind. We have also been having some fun subsurface action on Knotty Girls dark brown and olive 6-8 with a purple lightning bug or zebra midge 14-18 about 16-18 inches below the top fly.

For those of you looking to streamer fish the time is now! Lots of action on zonkers, Montana mouthwash, and Coffee’s sparkle minnows. We have found these are working well dead drifting with a zebra midge or baetis trailing 14-18 inches back.

Madison River

Our top choice for fishing this time of year!

Right now is a great time to be out on the Madison. Both the upper and the lower are fishing extremely well with flows making for great floating. The fish that have made Hebgen, Quake, and Ennis lakes home for the summer are starting to make their way back up into the river in preparation for the fall spawn. What this means for us is big fish and lots of them. We have had a lot of fun recently both nymph and streamer fishing in these areas. To all of you dry fly fans out there don’t let this discourage you as there has still been a bit of surface action to be capitalized on.

Fishing Report 10-10-2014

Gallatin River Report –

Fishing has been excellent recently.  The Gallatin is running clear, and with the weather we have predicted for this coming week there should be plenty of fish in hand.  As the temps have been getting down there at night there is no huge rush to get to the river first thing in the morning.  Afternoons have been fishing the best recently.

The majority of fish caught recently have been on smaller dries and nymphs.  Our recent recommendations have been dry/dropper rigs, such as Morrish Hopper Pink 10-14 with a Baetis Nymph 16-20 trailing about 12-18 inches behind.  We have also been having some fun subsurface action on Knotty Girls dark brown 6-8 with a purple lightning bug 14-18 about 16-18 inches below the top fly.

Also for you streamer junkies out there it is a good time to start rippin’ lip, stripping smaller streamers such as sculpins, wooly buggers, and zonkers seems to be producing some good fish.  Stop by the shop and see what we have been having fun with recently.

 

Madison River Report –

FALL TEMPS ARE UPON US!  Uncharacteristic rains have brought water levels up a bit on the Madison and they have been releasing water at the Hebgen Damn.  We have not seen any affect on the clarity of the river and high water means happy healthy fish, which puts a smile on all of our faces.

Streamers are seeming to be the ticket right now as the cold temps have made for more aggressive fish.  Coffee’s Sparkle Minnow Peacock has been an attractive pattern to those big browns and bows recently, while your standard nymph set ups, such as girdle bugs and baetis patterns, have been producing a good amount of fish as well.

For those dry fly fanatics out there not yet ready to say good-bye to the dry fly season, we have seen some large blue wing olive hatches in the afternoons and early evenings.  While the river is not boiling with risers you will notice some coming up to feed on the surface, capitalize on it while you can!

Fishing Report for 8-10-2014

Fishing Report for 8-10-2014
Epic Spruce Moth!!

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That’s what is happening right now on the Gallatin; especially here near Big Sky. The trout are literally gorging themselves on the real thing, but also falling for well presented olive/tan elk hair caddis patterns and cut-wing patterns of the lighter phase moths; plus some specialty attractors. We have several dozen of the most effective patterns in stock, and the correct sizes, but they’re going fast!

If you’re in the canyon and have been fishing (and catching) all morning, by 1 to 2 PM the fish are likely fat and happy; so to find more hungry trout get back in the car and move upriver or down a half-mile or so, into harder to reach places. Target areas below low-overhanging trees (preferably spruce) and fish into the shadows; and you should find some more opportunistic trout willing to eat your imitations.
Don’t ignore the presence of small hoppers, beetles, and ants though in late afternoons, , as these terrestrials are very active on the shoreline this time of year and often fall in the drink. Fish that are hanging nearby structure or cut-banks won’t likely let one of those ‘well-presented patterns’ pass by either.
Instead of hopper-dropper, think hopper-ant, as a trailing dry (10-12” max.) This can be deadly in early August. Dress both accordingly, as well as the tippet between them, and this should produce a strike.

The Upper Madison had experienced warm water temps lately, as they pulled from the top of the dam at Hebgen Reservoir. This had slowed the bite considerably, but things are better now. There are still plenty of fish left to be caught; using nymphs like Bubble backs, Shop Vac’s, and Frenchie’s. Float-trips seem to be more productive than walk-and-wade sections and throwing hoppers, chubbys, and ant patterns, will get a few strikes as well. Streamers on cloudy days are also an option.

“The Yellowstone is the river to be floating right now!” Unfortunately word travels fast and everyone knows this; so weekdays are much less crowded than weekends which can be zoos. Mud plugs and an aggressive white fish bite are common August conditions to deal with on the Stone, but getting a few fat cutty’s and that occasional huge brown to take your hopper/chubby off the top; makes a trip worth remembering.
Soda Butte, Slough Creek, and the Lamar Valley are currently the better places to fish in YNP, using terrestrials; and are also not coincidentally…some of the most beautiful waters on earth too!

Fishing Report for 7-15-2014

The Gallatin is in excellent shape!

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While the salmonflies are done the caddis and golden stone dryfly fishing is just getting good. The water levels have finally dropped to more manageable wading levels opening up a huge portion of river that was left unfished for the past month.

This reduction in flows and increased clarity has also allowed trout to move into more areas to hold and feed as well.
All in all this makes for more space between anglers, guided trips, and rafters too; so a more enjoyable river experience for all.

The Upper Madison is also in great shape as far as flows and clarity and fishing great from the walk-and-wade sections all the way down to Ennis for those floating. For those wading it’s a dry fly game with caddis, golden stones, and Yellow Sallys; while those floating like nymphing in afternoons on Shop Vacs, Green Machines, and caddis pupa.
Switching to size 10 golden Chubby Chernobyls or pink Chubby Chucks in the mornings or evenings is a solid bet.
While the shoreline has plenty of fish some of the bigger ones have moved out into the buckets so don’t ignore center-river fishing this time of season.

The Yellowstone River is finally ready to float and fishing great. Granted we’ve experienced a couple mud plugs due to thunderstorms in the park, but when she’s clear it’s on!!

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River Report for 7-6-2014

“They’re Finally Here…”!!

The Gallatin is fishing great!

Salmonflies have been seen by both humans and trout from Moose Creek to green bridge this past week, and have even landed on the window at the fly shop here in Big Sky. They should be flying above Red Cliff and well into the park by tomorrow.
A couple days ago Andrew challenged each of us, throughout the day, to go across the street and try a size 10 Golden Chubby to see whether they’d be fooled; and they were. While many a trout to ‘a look-see’; I caught one and missed another within 10 minutes!
Since then it’s been report after report from our guides and guests of fish eating all kinds of salmon fly patterns from huge True Stones, size 8 Yellow Stimis, to Paulson’s Flutter Bugs (the latter “with a little action added”)!!

Finding the right back-eddy, inside-bend, or side-channel is what’s key. Slow moving water essentially. The fish will be there too as long as you approach such pockets ‘with some stealth’ and don’t barge right in knee-deep to announce your presence.

Dry flies right now are the ticket and caddis are coming off great too. If they won’t eat a salmon fly and you’re a dry fly nut like me; put on a size 14 or 16 elk hair caddis pattern at dusk and you should be into fish in no time. If you can’t fish till sundown and things get slow up top in the afternoons, try going below the surface with late June Gallatin staples like brown or orange girdle bugs, large BH princes, pink or red san juan worms, and silver or purple lighting bugs (ad way more than usual split shot though as she’s still running at fairly fast clip).

The Upper Madison is the place to be for float trips right now.
Its nymphing small patterns like 18-20 Shop Vacs or caddis pupa, for the most part in the upper stretches; with several fish taking Pat’s rubber legs, in black and olive.
For dry fly purists however and it’s big bugs you’re after use Pteronacys Chubby’s 8-10, big Yellow or orange Stimi’s, or similar colored and sized patterns and hit the banks for miles.
The streamer bite in olive and black seems to have picked up a bit too when weather’s overcast; while a weighted white zonker is a good pattern a bright sunny days; only if you’re after the biggest fish in the river.
For those wanting to walk-and-wade there are several options on the Upper try caddis dries or salmonlfies with a caddis pupa dropper around 3 Dollar or West Fork Cabins and you should find some hungry fish.

The Firehole in YNP still has some good dry fly action in afternoons and evenings using PMD’s and caddis; though traffic in the park has picked up a bit; so going during the week is better.

The Yellowstone River in the Paradise Valley section and below Livingston is still a bit high and fast, but getting better day to day; so we hope to be floating over there in next week or so.

River Report for June 23, 2014

DSC_2549Gallatin River:

The Gallatin is clearing up a lot earlier than expected mostly due to a slower runoff than anticipated. This window of opportunity has been opened by unseasonably colder night temps at higher elevations and even a couple inches of snow a week ago.

 We’ve also seen fewer rain showers and overall less precipitation locally than normal for spring. This means summer fishing has already begun and guided trips are already having some stellar days on the Gallatin around Big Sky!

While wading is still sketchy in most spots as the river is still flowing at a quick clip, plenty of healthy trout can be caught in the calmer shoreline sections, inside bends, and side-channels. Using popular patterns like heavily weighted beadhead prince nymphs, girdle bugs, purple lightning bugs, and san juan worms, have been the most effective strategy.

Lower Madison:

The Lower Madison has also been consistent for float trips using caddis dries in the evenings and various nymphs like BH princes, soft hackles, as well as Pat’s rubber legs, and crayfish patterns.

Upper Madison:

Even the Upper Madison is full of surprises this early in the season as we’re floating a lower and clearer upper section of the Madison above the West Fork than we normally would be this time of year. The water temps are up too, so we’re catching fish using midge clusters and elk hair caddis dries in certain sections. Even the big bugs have already been spotted near Ennis so things could get crazy for salmon flies in the next week or so; as the hatch moves up river. Best of all, those floating now have virtually had the river all to themselves on weekdays. This coming weekend could be another story though as word spreads…

Yellowstone National Park

There are also a couple wade-fishing options in Yellowstone National Park like the famed Firehole River; using PMD’s, Drakes, and White Miller’s Caddis dries.

Yellowstone River

Floating the Yellowstone in the Paradise Valley sections and below Livingston is still couple weeks out, but that’s fine by us with so much great water around Big Sky available to fish right now!
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So pick up the phone and book your next guide trip with Grizzly Outfitters; (406-995-2950 or toll free at 888-807-9452). Fly Shop hours are 8AM – 6PM every day of the week!

Green is good, brown is bad.

That’s the rule we follow in our lead-up to official runoff on the Gallatin. We’re still experiencing some freezing late night temps in the mountains and even occasional snow at higher elevations. This weather fluctuation tends to halt or at least suspend low-level-runoff this time of year.

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Local angler stripping streamers under a cut bank on Gallatin 5/1/2014
While a week ago we had a muddy brown river to contend with due to warm temps and rains, presently the Gallatin has that light green tint to it with about 10”-12” of visibility along the seams, shoreline, and side-channels. That’s where a lot of the fish are too; so this is the perfect scenario for success by hitting those sections following an afternoon BWO hatch and of course midges are everywhere.
Nymphing a favorite size 18 – 20 BWO emerger or Purple Lightning Bug is a safe bet and combining this with a brown or olive Pat’s Rubber Leg or Girdle Bug is effective too. Though keep in mind you will likely get a few rigs snagged and lost since visibility hides those obvious hazards you would otherwise see and avoid if the river was clearer.
Going above Taylor’s Fork has its advantages as things will likely be clearer, but you’ll have company and occasionally the wind can be a factor you’ll have to contend with; versus more sheltered areas that can be found inside the canyon.
On cloudy and overcast days Midge clusters like Buzz Balls and Griffith’s Gnats are great dry flies to use right now. They’re the perfect dry fly pattern for fishing within that 2 to 4’ rocky section near shore; as that is precisely where midges tend to cluster up in slower water and trout key-in on them.
A careful drag free drifted midge cluster in the foam-line and high sticking using a 7.5’ tapered 4X leader and about 2’ of 5X tippet seems to be the trick. Don’t be shy however on the Aquel or Gink though; as the higher your pattern floats and longer the drift the better.
Another dry fly option that’s worked great lately is a Purple Para Wulff in sizes 14, 16, and 18.
If you’re strictly  targeting bigger trout on the Gallatin stripping streamers is a good early season tactic, but more success can be found downriver where there’s more structure and deeper holes towards Bozeman than up near Big Sky. While the takes are few and far between, with some patience and a wide selection of articulated junk like assorted Galloup’s Dungeons (sculpin patterns) at your disposal; things could get interesting if you place it in front of the right fish.
Any day now the Gallatin will get brown and stay brown, plus be rocking around a Class IV; so the window of opportunity is closing fast.
“Get out there while the gettin’ is good!”