Trip Report Hebgen Lake, MT

My wife and I loved staying at Madison Arm Campground with full hook ups last year so much that we did the exact same trip again this year ( Sep 7th to September 16th)....even had the same spot right on the lake....I mean, how much better does it get than that...? I know, you don't have to say it.....I am going to be digging out from honey do's for awhile for this right..?
Located outside of West Yellowstone, it is about 5 miles on a forestry service road. The forest service does not do a whole to maintain it, but the owner of Madison Arm has a grader and runs over it about every 3 weeks. It does tend to develop a pretty good washboard along a lot of it, but is very drivable with a truck and travel trailer if you simply take your time....I mean, what's the hurry right..? We had arranged a guide for 2 days with Big Sky Anglers( highly recommended by the way). The first day we went into the park with the intentions of hiking down to the Yellowstone on the other side of the park. There was an area on our boundary going eastward that had been closed due to a 8 day old Grizzly kill.....no problems so far.....push on. Going up the trail we see what we perceive to be as a fairly recent track. We have our bear spray and monitor for more tracks as we go. This is where you may wonder about turning around....Or......does the section of a very low pressured section of the Yellowstone in the back country keep luring you further in...? What would you do...? So we crest the hill and start down about 50 yards and there we see the track sitting right on top of soft soil. Obviously very fresh. The pad alone was the size of a small dinner plate..!! I kick myself for not taking a picture. The decision was made at that point to turn around unfortunately. I do remember right where we were though and vow to go back there at some point. We ended up hiking into Hell Roaring Canyon down to the river where we caught and released a few fish and had lunch. Our other guided day was a split day with the first half on Quake Lake and the second half doing a 4 mile float on the Madison. Caught fish at both places with a nice RB to the net for me and my wife losing a nice Brown on the Madison.
Now for the details on Hebgen. Tail of the Calibaetis hatch, but the fish were still keying in on the nymph. Essentially, a size 16 flashback Pheasant Tail nymph worked on 4X back behind a leech pattern. The fish one morning really starting gulping as the adults were all over and driving the fish into a frenzy....its pretty amazing. I battled the wind a little everyday and found that getting out there first thing and about 2 hours before dark was the best plan. My wife had her sewing machine and was very content while I was on the lake. Wake up, eat, fish, eat, take a nap, fish, eat then repeat daily.
The level of the lake had gone down considerably and I had to wheel my pontoon about 100 feet further to the waters edge. Nice thing was though that I could leave the boat there without anyone messing with it or complaining. The fish tended to be in water only about 5 to 6 feet deep so an intermediate line was the way to go with about a 7 foot leader. Most of the time the fish took the back fly, but occasionally they did take the front fly with ended up in a tangled mess sometimes, but that's okay. I did not have to go far to find fish and managed to pull in one after another in the space of about 2 hours ranging from 16 to 21 inches. Funny thing was though that I ended up catching about 5 or so Whitefish....blew my mind. I thought they would only be in a river. Anyone else ever catch one in a lake...?
We also took a side drive to Ennis to have breakfast and do some shopping and were lucky enough to spot a mama black bear with 2 cubs on the hillside.....bonus sighting.
All fish healthy and released unharmed. tempImage42XVZ0.jpg tempImagevVlFM2.png

Here are some pics:

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troutpocket

Active Member
Thanks for the nice write up! Always a tough call deciding if seeing the big animals is worth the risk. Statistics say you’ll probably be fine. But….

Nice fish too.
 

MT_Flyfisher

Active Member
Enjoyed your report.

I’m staying in West for the month. I love Quake Lake and went there last week one day to experience the Tricos. The low lake levels have created a unique opportunity, almost like the Missouri, IMO, and there were masses of rising fish the morning I was there.

What I’m really here for though is the runners coming out of Hebgen. After a slow start it appears they may now be entering the Madison in more numbers.
 

nwtroutguy

The Tug Is The Drug
Enjoyed your report.

I’m staying in West for the month. I love Quake Lake and went there last week one day to experience the Tricos. The low lake levels have created a unique opportunity, almost like the Missouri, IMO, and there were masses of rising fish the morning I was there.

What I’m really here for though is the runners coming out of Hebgen. After a slow start it appears they may now be entering the Madison in more numbers.

I would certainly like to go back and fish Quake some more…..especially at night. There were Trico’s coming off, but the Calibaetis hatch never really materialized even though the wind was virtually non-existent. The hatch was way better over at Hebgen We will stay there for a month at Madison Arm once we retire.
There were plenty of fish still in the arm as was the case last year at the same time. I couldn’t believe I pretty much had the place to myself with all the fish I could possibly catch. The famous hatch is nice, but it was really fun catching them on the nymph and leech patterns because they were so aggressive.
 

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