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!