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Fall fishing is here

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By Ennion Williams, Explore Big Sky contributor

Although the midday temperatures
are warm, fall is in the air and that
means the larger fish are starting to
move. Across Montana, anglers are
having success fishing the rivers with
grasshoppers. Warm afternoons have
provided the best action for dry fly
fishing. Cool mornings and above
average water flows have kept water
temperatures in check this year.

It seems to me the average size of the
trout has increased a couple inches this
year. This may be due to two years of
good runoff and higher water levels.
On any account, anglers this year have
been treated to some excellent fishing
conditions all summer.

The Gallatin River runs crystal
clear and low in the fall, and fishing
there can be finicky. This year
with minimal rain, the river has not
gone off color. With the clear water,
presentations must be accurate and
tippet needs to be very light. With
the cooler temperatures in the morning,
anglers are back to nymphing
until it warms up around noon. On a
cloudy day the fall baetis are out, and
fish will be looking up. Down in the
valley hoppers, ants and beetles have
been working well. In the canyon the
fish seem to be looking up more for
mayfly patterns or attractors.

The Madison and Yellowstone
rivers have been fishing very well
with grasshoppers this year. Both
rivers have maintained excellent
flows and are starting to get baetis
hatches as the weather cools off.
Once the fall storm-fronts start
rolling in, the streamer fishing will
pick up and we’ll have more opportunities
at large fish.

This is a great time of year to venture
into Yellowstone National Park. Fall
colors are coming out, and the elk go
into their mating ritual. The northeast
corner is a great fall destination
for the tributaries to the Yellowstone
River in the Lamar Valley. The Madison
and Firehole rivers also come into
their own, with the run up out of
Hebgen Lake.

There are many angling opportunities
this time of year. The tourist crowds
have thinned, and many of the locals
are in the woods looking for elk. This
is a great time to get out and have the
river to yourself. As always, stop by
your local fly shop for up to date information
and have fun!

Ennion Williams is a professional
Fishing Guide and Outfitter in Big
Sky. He can be reached at (406)
579-7094 or at
He also runs Big Sky Local Foods.

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