Where did August go? The summer months seem to speed up as the season progresses and August just fades away. Fagot. Honestly, we’re not that sad to see it go – the upcoming late summer and fall months are pretty spectacular here in Livingston and Montana in general. This is what is happening in our rivers around the corner of the state.
YELLOW STONE RIVER
The mud plug that descended from Yellowstone Park has finally dissipated. The river stayed muddy through town and downstream for much of yesterday, but clearer water from upstream is reaching us this way. The Montana Whitewater Webcam in Gardiner is an excellent indicator of the river and shows fishing-friendly conditions this morning. We have about a foot of visibility, which is more than exploitable!
The mud has kept most of the anglers out of the water for almost a week, so the fish won’t be relatively pressured. With children starting school and the tourist season beginning to wind down, we are seeing fewer fisherman days than we were a few weeks ago. On weekends there will be more people, but weekdays are pretty quiet. Mayor’s Landing to Sheep Mountain remains closed to all floating and river uses.
The forecast for this coming week is HOT. We even have a maximum of 100 for Saturday. However, cool nights will help control and moderate the water temperature. Still, it’s a great idea to get in the water early, play with the fish quickly, leave them in the water as much as possible, and release them as quickly as possible.
With the warm weather, grasshoppers have remained at the top of the food chain for a while. We’ve had a few more windy days, which is blowing them into the river. Fish the edges of farm fields on windy days for best success. The same advice we’ve had for the last two reports holds true: fish for a grasshopper with a flashy dropper, terrestrials, and double nymph tackle. If you are fishing beyond the morning, try fishing in deeper water as the trout move to find cooler water temperatures.
Fall is coming, and fall is GOOD in Yellowstone. Stay tuned.
The Lower Madison remains under a Hoot Owl closure (no fishing from 2 pm to midnight) and is a playground for tubers. Especially with all the college kids coming back to Bozeman…
The Upper Madison has been fishing well and remains in her late summer condition. There is still a Hoot Owl closure from 8 Mile Ford to Ennis Lake, but no restrictions on the rest of the river. Fish early to beat the heat, bring in grasshoppers, terrestrials and attractors, and soak in the Madison Valley scenery.
Not much hatching right now, but soon… Fall is one of the best seasons on the Madison River for big fish. It’s going up fast!
The Gallatin River is under a Hoot Owl closure from the confluence to Cameron Bridge Road. Honestly, as we’ve been saying all summer, we recommend avoiding the section that’s in the valley and focusing on the canyon. The water is cooler, the fish are happier, and there is much more access.
Without much hatching, terrestrials and attractors are a good bet. Catch the good water, fish early in the day, release the fish as fast as you can. There is an algae bloom from Big Sky downstream, just be aware of that. If you want to avoid that, most of the crowds fish over Big Sky.
One of the main advantages of the Gallatin is the fact that there is a lot of access in the canyon. There are plenty of pull outs and parking spots that allow you to jump in the river and enjoy it. Keep in mind that it’s small water and a popular rafting and kayaking destination, so you’ll need to share the space.
The end of summer is the season of the high country. There are hundreds of lakes, streams, hidden gems, and secret spots in the mountains of southwestern Montana. You can combine hiking, camping, backpacking, or mountain biking with fishing to create an amazing trip. Many of these places are within a day’s walk, but even more are within a quick overnight.
For lakes we suggest a good variety of beadhead nymphs, small mayfly skippers, leeches and flying ants. Flying ants do surprisingly well in upland lakes, especially in the afternoons. If they aren’t eating on you, slowly (VERY slowly) try to strip a leech or trinket-headed nymph. The trout in these lakes can be frustratingly technical at times, so bring a long leader and your A-game.
Creeks and streams are a different matter. Often all you need is a basic hopper or attractor pattern. The water is fast enough, these fish don’t have much time to scan for flies, and a well-placed presentation will either work or not. If you make a couple of good throws to a juicy spot with no results, keep moving. Don’t spend all day working on the same careers, keep moving.
The high country is often overlooked, but if you want a real Montana experience, this is it. Go to the mountains and explore. It’s worth it.
LIVINGSTON AND SHOP
The end of summer is here in Livingston. The kids are back in school, the city is less busy, and things are wrapping up for the season. However, there are still many things to do! Great food, beer, music, events, Farmer’s Market… Fall is a great time to visit Livingston.
The store is starting to receive our first fall clothing and gear. Don’t be caught off guard by cold weather, shop early to stay warm, dry and comfortable all fall. With the hatches of fall fast approaching, we’ve got the flies you need. We even have a couple of 7wts for steam season…
Good luck this week!