Trip Report Hebgen Lake Report

My wife and I got shut out of our Canadian trip( like many others I suppose), so made reservations at Madison Arm Resort with our travel trailer for 6 nights with a guided trip down the Madison through Big Sky Anglers. We broke the trip up into a 3 day drive......here to Cle Elum, Cle-Elum to Missoula and finally to Missoula. We fueled up at the main turn off in a very cold rain and wind after leaving 92 degrees in Missoula...WTH..?? Got to West Yellowstone to warm temps and the fly shop. The fly shop said there was snow coming....no surprises me in this part of Montana. Anyway, sure enough as we are setting up camp, it starts snowing....we think..OMG...have we made a huge effin mistake coming here..?? The forecast called for cool nights and mid 70’s during the day. I was a bonehead and didn’t think about the inline water filter outside freezing and woke up to 16 degrees and sorting that all out. Welcome to Hebgen Lake....LOL. We had a spot right on the lake so I was able to just wheel my pontoon down to the lake.
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My wife brought her sewing machine and table so it was a blank check for me.....whoop whoop..!! I have never fished Hebgen Lake( thank you btw for all the input everyone gave) so I started with a floating line. About 10 minutes in I have a hard grab and I see the tail....sheeeeettt, a massive Brown. I manage to land it..it measures out at 23” and I estimate about 5lbs. You know that” my knees are shaking and I will pissed if I lose this fish” feeling..? Well, my knees were shaking....
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I also managed to hook one on an Parachute Adams as the gulpers were gulping. I forgot about the 6X tippet and promptly parted ways....darn it.

My wife and I did the first ever float on the Madison with a guy named Nick. He was great and full of enthusiasm. You know what else..? He was so polite to both of us which only made a great day even better. We had some good eats and I lost 2 really nice Browns off a hopper pattern. As you can see we had an absolutely banner day.

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We ventured into the park for a half day and managed to see some wildlife....Bison, Elk and a coyote very near to us when sat down to eat. This guy was not afraid at all of us.
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On the last full day there, I was once again given Cart Blanche to fish....so I went out for a few hours in the morning, took a break for lunch and went back out for a couple more hours. The wind had come up a little and diffused the surface which I feel always makes a difference. It was absolutely unbelievable for that time frame. The fish were on the hunt and all but 2 fish were all Browns ranging from 15 to 18”. I was really the only guy out there in my pontoon and was smiling ear to ear.

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The resort was great and we even rented a boat for a few hours to try and get in on the Calibaetis hatch. It was a little tough and there seems to be a bit of a learning curve when the fish are not showing themselves in numbers. We moved on and did some more sight seeing with me eager to get back out there in my pontoon.

This kind of fishery is soooo addictive when it is on....the tug is the only drug I need.

There was no smoke....only deep blue skies until we left. As we made our way through Idaho and all the way back through Washington, the visibility dropped to about 1 mile in a lot of places making it a little tough in places to see.

We were a little disappointed to have not gone to BC and Alberta as it is nice up there, but I am so glad my wife suggested we go to West Yellowstone.....it was a great time. We look forward to going back.
 

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troutpocket

Active Member
Sounds like a reasonable alternative to your original plan. Did you stick to fishing around camp on Hebgen? Nice fish!
 

nwtroutguy

The Tug Is The Drug
Sounds like a reasonable alternative to your original plan. Did you stick to fishing around camp on Hebgen? Nice fish!

Yes, I just fished the lake in what I felt was a safe distance from camp should the wind come up.The fish moved around a bit, but once I figured it out, it was awesome. I stuck to the old saying of” Don’t ever leave fish to go find fish”.
 

John8

New Member
Nice report and fish. On my trips out there I have never fished Hebgen Lake but have driven by it while fishing the Madison. Had read about the gulper fishing and you could see fish rising out on the lake but we did not fish the lake. Always wondered what it was like glad to hear how well you did. Many of those browns migrate up the Madison to spawn in the fall. We caught a couple of nice size browns in the Madison that had come out of the lake. The weather sounds typical for Montana when we were there around this time was fishing in short sleeve one day and a few days later we woke up to 4” of snow. Is that Gibbons Falls in the one picture?
 

nwtroutguy

The Tug Is The Drug
Nice report and fish. On my trips out there I have never fished Hebgen Lake but have driven by it while fishing the Madison. Had read about the gulper fishing and you could see fish rising out on the lake but we did not fish the lake. Always wondered what it was like glad to hear how well you did. Many of those browns migrate up the Madison to spawn in the fall. We caught a couple of nice size browns in the Madison that had come out of the lake. The weather sounds typical for Montana when we were there around this time was fishing in short sleeve one day and a few days later we woke up to 4” of snow. Is that Gibbons Falls in the one picture?

Yes, as a matter of fact it is Gibbons Falls. We were blessed with some spectacular evening light.
 

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