Wow, it’s great to have good flows on the Stillwater this late in the season. I was floating from Johnson’s Bridge (Absaroka Access) to Whitebird up until yesterday. The drop right below the access is getting pretty sketchy, so I’ll probably start putting in at Jeffry’s Landing when I float the Stilly from here on. I expect to be on the Yellowstone for the bulk of my trips through the end of the season.
The extended stonefly action this season is transitioning nicely into hoppers. We are starting to get fish on Parahoppers and other grasshopper patterns. The stonefly imitations are continuing to get results. Fish are turning from the bigger nymph patterns to size #14 and down. Pheasant tails, Princes, Montana Princes and other dark colored nymphs are producing the best.
There are some yellow spinners around in the morning, with caddis laying eggs all day. If you look hard enough, you will see a fish feeding on top here and there.
There are a ton of mayflys of all kinds coming off on Rock Creek and it’s tributaries. Adams, Purple Haze, Parachute Hare’s ear are all working on top. Look for hoppers to start soon!
The mountain lakes are fishing well on ants, size 16 Adams, dark Comparaduns and (of course) wooly buggers in black and olive. Try a bugger with a size 14 Prince trailing it. Strip it in with short, quick strips.
Here’s a look at some of the action!
This 18 inch rainbow came out on a rainy day.
The Yellowstone in the Columbus area has cleared up and is fishing well. Fished Bratten to Twin Bridges yesterday. Trout were eating the Yellowstoner Chubby, Batman Nymphs and Prince Nymphs. The Chubby bite was fair, nymphing was good. The streamer bite was good, as well. There are hoppers around, but stonefly colors were fishing the best.
Be careful out there. Flows are still high and the river has changed quite a bit. Lots of trees and debris in the water. Twin Bridges access was totally rearranged. You need four wheel drive to launch a boat. There’s only room for one or two rigs at a time, so prepare to stage in the parking lot and pull down to the river only when ready to launch. When taking out, trailer your boat and pull into the lot to stow things away. It’s already busy out there, so remember your river etiquette.
We should be able to wade fish more of the local water this coming week with the flows dropping nicely. Be careful, it’s pretty spicy out there. Stay on the bank and fish the pocket water. A dry fly with a dropper should produce. Try small stimulators, Jack Cabes and PMX’s, size 10 or 12. Drop any beadhead of the hook.
Floating the Stillwater is still great! We are moving to the lower sections, below Absarokee now. Fish are eating dry flies some days and not some days. Nymphing is consistent. There are several types of bugs around. Mayflies ranging from yellow to dark grey, as well as caddis are popping on cloudy days.
This nice pure bred Cutthroat ate a Purple Haze on the Stillwater a few days ago. We always celebrate catching a pure Cutty below Cliff Swallow. There aren’t many left that far from the mountains.
Pure bred native Cutthroat on the Stillwater.
The Stillwater continues to run high and fish well. Flows dropped to 3000 cfs yesterday. Some of the big rock shelves are starting to fish well with the dropping flows. There are yellow sallies, golden stones and pmds in evidence. Fish are eating a size 10 yellow stimulator well. Size 14 Montana prince nymphs and pheasant tails are working for a dropper. Be sure to use a long dropper line, at least two feet, to get it down deep while the river is still high. Be sure to check quiet eddies for fish rising to pmds.
Wade fishing is going to be all but impossible for a while yet. Rock Creek is mostly too high and fast to wade, as are most of the streams in the area. Try the East and West Rosebuds up on the forest service land and Rock Creek just below the Glacier Lake trailhead to find wading water.
Great day on the river!
The Stilly dropped below 4000 CFS today! Float fishing is good, wade fishing won’t be safe or effective for a while yet. Floated Cliff Swallow to Johnson’s today. It’s quite a ride, but the fish are ready to eat. Big stonefly drys, stonefly nymphs and mayfly nymphs all got eaten. Try Yellowstoners, Chubbys and Stimulators in sizes 8 and 10 for dry flies. Girdle bugs, also sizes 8 and 10 got ripped. Montana Prince and traditional Prince nymphs in 14 also worked well.
This nice brown hammered a Yellowstoner!
Cecelia’s first fish on the fly!
Well, it’s that time of year! Area freestone rivers and streams are full of snowmelt. Probably won’t be fishable until late June, early July. Luckily, the Trout Scout has access to some beautiful lakes in the Beartooth Foothills. Trips start at $295 for two anglers!
Rock Creek was a real treat today. Beautiful spring day and beautiful, willing trout! There are plenty of bugs around, but no concerted hatch of any one kind. There are March Browns, caddis and baetis. Along with miscellaneous mayflies of all sizes and colors. Fish were eating a size 14 Prince dropped from a big Purple Haze in the early afternoon. Later in the day, clouds started showing up and the bugs came out. A couple of fish refused the Purple Haze, so I took that as a sign. Switched over to a #14 brown parachute dry fished without the dropper. While no fish were actively rising, they were chowing on my parachute. The Prince took larger fish, but it’s always a blast to catch fish on a dry fly regardless of size. Get out there soon. This warm weather means run-off is right around the corner.
We’re still in a holding pattern for our spring hatches. The extended winter weather and fluctuating flows seem to have put things off. Some March Browns and baetis are around almost every day, but never in enough numbers to get fish rising. Even a few caddis pop here and there. But when you check the bushes, it’s hard to find one. Maybe the famous “Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch” will actually be on Mother’s Day this year!
Flows are really fluctuating right now. Expect the clarity of the Stillwater to change over the course of a day. Last Monday, we started out with a couple of feet of visibility. By 2 pm it had cleared to about three feet. By 5pm it was back to 2 feet.
The fishing has been tough. Big rubber legs and brown worms (oh my) are sticking a few fish. Throw a big #12 Purple Haze for a dry and you may stick a fish on well defined foam lines. Streamer fishing has been slow, but no slower than anything else! You really have to throw some meat, meaning big flies, to get much attention. Black is always better when the water is off color.
It was good to get out with Jimmy Brummel from Texas again after three years. He and Julia were my victims last Monday. We had fun on a rainy, cold day. Even if the catching wasn’t the best!
On the ‘Stone in Paradise Valley
Snow is already covering the Crazy Mountains on the ‘Stone.
Early snows and fall colors make fishing area rivers and streams a special experience. Brown trout are active preparing for the spawn and baetis are hatching! It doesn’t get much better than a day of streamers and dry flies on a nice fall day in Montana.
Look for the little olive dry flies in the afternoon. Sparkle duns are a good choice for rising fish. An olive parachute is a good searching pattern pre and post hatch.
As always, the Grinch and black bunny fur streamers are key, with Sparkle Minnows and the Barely Legal taking big browns all day.
The bite on the Yellowstone slowed some the last couple of days. The return of hot weather and high pressure put the trout off a bit. The current cold front with it’s low pressure system should turn things back on. Even on the slow days, fish are eating the hopper here and there. Nymphing and streamer fishing have not been as effective as the big dry. Some fish are rising to spinners in the big slicks in the morning. Look for more mayfly activity this week with the cooler temps.
Area small streams are fishing very well on size 14 dry flies. Parachutes, Royal Coachman and small stimulators are getting it done!
Hoppers are Yummy!