As the end of July approaches, I have to say that it was one for the books. What a difference a record snow year can make. I have always said this is a great fishery just, add water!
The flows in the box are 1700 cfs and have been holding steady. This makes a tough wading area even tougher, but worth the effort. A golden stone with a bullet dropper is the key to your fishing success. I prefer a foam golden stone with 16 olive bullet dropper. Be sure your box is stocked with split case PMDs and the Weiss anchor, as well. To make sure you are getting down where the fish are, be sure to add a BB size split shot or two, if necessary. Start your day fishing the Last Chance section through the top of the Ranch by 9 and hunt for fish sipping on Flav and PMD spinners. It’s some of the best fishing around. Rusty spinners in size 14,16 and 18, the Two Tone Flav Spinner in a 14 and Grey Drake spinners in size 10s and 12s are crucial fly box staples at this time.
The Ranch fishing has been amazing these last couple of weeks. Rising fish and insects have both been plentiful! The Ranch trout are still Ranch trout. After putting a drag free drift over a bank feeder multiple times with no love, I changed my 5X tippet to 5.5X and the very next cast Mr. Bankfeeder ate with no hesitation. The fishing has remained strong until noonish depending on the day. Clouds and cooler temps stretch the fishing day a bit longer, while bright hot sunny days tend to shut down the opportunities a little earlier. Your arsenal should include: size 18 PMD No-Hackle, rusty spinners size 14 through 18, Flav spinners size 14, black ants size 16 and hoppers. It's that time already! August is coming soon so some hatches will slow down and others will begin. The Ranch trout are as selective as they come. Changing your fly after each refusal and a drag free drift is key. If you come up empty handed don’t fret. It happens to everybody. If you take a beating, tip your hat and have a look around, it’s the best place in the world to take an ass kicking!
Personally I have been avoiding this section of river as every sort of inflatable watercraft you can imagine has invaded! It’s the time of the year when the rubber and vinyl hatch is at its peak. Despite the recreational floater, the fishing is always strong in this section. Avoid the craziness by putting on before 8am and after 6pm. Have two rods rigged if you can. One with an indicator set up for deep nymphing and one hopper dropper set up for the banks.
Ashton to St Anthony
It’s very important to consider water temps until cooler fall weather arrives. Get those fish landed quickly and back in the water. Anything above 68 degrees is going to stress these fish. I recommend being on the water early, between 6-6:30am, when temps are optimal to safely release your quarry. I have been fishing golden stones with some success and don't forget to dust off your hopper box and stash it in your vest. The morning spinner fall has been pretty good until around 10:30 or 11:00.
Water temps are now a significant factor. Things are warming up quickly on that side of the divide. The mayflies are on the way out but hoppers and nocturnal stones should be plentiful. That means early starts! On the water at first light and on the couch watching Andy Griffin and Deputy Fife, by noon. Pretty good day if you think about it! Be sure to pack your bear spray along and keep it at the ready, especially if you are planning a sunrise start.
It’s time to give the Fire Hole and Madison a break until water temps come down this fall. There are plenty of other options nearby. I would check Slough creek, Soda, the Lamar, the Yellowstone or any of the amazing lakes the park has to offer. Again, and no matter the time of day, pack your bear spray and keep it ready for use on your travels in YNP.