10 February, 2023 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy Friday everyone, we made it another week! It’s been a much more mild weather week, if you don’t count the wind. Temps have been as high as low 50s and a lot of the snow from this recent storm has been melting out around town. The mountains are holding onto the moisture and snowpack remains in the 90th percentile for most of our local waters. 

With the warmer weather, fishing is picking up a bit. Here’s what is going on. 

Yellowstone River 

It’s been a windy week on the Yellowstone River. There’s also been some icing issues. The warmer temps have broken up ice upstream which is causing some jamming mid valley. Rick and Minori went on a drive down the valley on their days off this week and this was the scene at the Dan Bailey fishing access. 

Point is, be careful and be mindful of the potential for ice, especially if you are putting a boat in. We’ve heard of some people floating from Mayor’s to 89 (which is back open by the way!) recently, and it was pretty decent. Just be sure to scout your route and be careful. If you’re wade fishing, don’t mess with ice. It’s not worth it. 

The biggest challenge is just finding somewhere out of the wind. Dead drifted darker wooly buggers with a midge dropper has been effective for multiple people. Dead drifting streamers is a tactic often overlooked, and while it’s great year round, it’s especially deadly when water temps are low. The trout have to expend less energy to eat it than a stripped streamer, and it’s a tempting morsel of calories for a hungry winter fish. 

These warmer days are bringing midges out in reasonably good numbers. Look for them midday in the calmer spots. If you don’t see fish eating off the top, fish a nymph. Emergers just under the surface film can be a great idea as well. 

Madison River 

Not a lot has changed on the Madison River since our last report. The Upper Madison is pretty icy still, but you can have good days high up on the river. If you’re after a midge dry fly day, head to Three Dollar/Reynold’s Pass. Be ready to walk a bit, be respectful of other fishermen, and enjoy the drive. 

The Lower Madison has been fishing pretty well, if you don’t mind the wind. Crayfish and dead drifted streamers with a midge behind it are about all you need all day long. Keep some midge emergers and dries in the box and a sharp eye out for rising fish. The Bear Trap trail is a very popular one with runners, hikers, and folks just out with their dog so please be ready to share the trail and be kind and respectful to everyone out enjoying the experience. 

If you’re itching to get the boat out, the Lower is a good option. Like we said in our last report, Warm to Black’s is a great winter float. Just long enough to cover some great water and find some fish, but not quite long enough to get super cold and miserable. 

Gallatin River

Not a lot has changed on the Gallatin River this week. Things are picking up with the warmer temps, especially down in the valley. Be mindful of ice and look for midges on the warmer days. Expect lots of ice way down low. The Canyon is a great place to go experience winter fishing in a great setting. Find the deep and slow water, and fish deep. 

Paradise Valley Spring Creeks

The Spring Creeks are our go to for local winter fishing. We’ve heard the midges have been pretty darn good this week. Find a sheltered spot and bring the 6x. We’ve still got some time with the lower winter rates, so enjoy! 

Livingston and the Shop

This time of year is always pretty quiet around here. People are enjoying their winter sports, town is reasonably quiet, and we are all gearing up for what is sure to be a busy tourist season. At the shop, we’ve got lots of great gear to keep you warm and comfy out there. Our ski shop is still open, and we’re even working on a few bikes these days! 

Stop by and get some fly tying materials and tell us a fish story! Tight lines this week.