10 July, 2024 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy Fourth of July week here in Livingston! This week is the peak of summer and the busiest of the entire year. The Parade was yesterday, and it’s always a good time. A huge thanks to everyone who took part in it, and rode with us during the festivities. We are always thrilled to showcase our lovely town. 

Runoff is over and fishing season is in full swing here in Southwest Montana. Fishing has been GOOD for the last couple of weeks and we are expecting that to continue. The salmonflies have been out, and the hatch has been yielding good results. By all accounts across the state, this has been one of the better caddis years in recent memory. 

Montana FWP introduced their first round of Hoot Owl fishing hour restrictions yesterday, and with the extremely high temperatures forecast for the end of this week and into next week, it’s important to follow some basic hot weather fish care rules. Fish early in the morning when water temps are the coolest, keep your fish in the water, and keep fights as short as possible. When the water gets too hot, call it a day. We wrote a blog post about warm weather fishing strategy a few years ago, and it remains as relevant today as back then.

Yellowstone River 

The Yellowstone River has been fishing very well recently. The salmonflies have already moved up Paradise Valley and are up into the park at this point, but you can still find a few buzzing around from Emigrant and upstream. Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies are prevalent, keeping stoneflies top of mind and high on the menu. Yellowstone stimulators and chubbies are a good choice for a multipurpose fly, as they can imitate everything from a stonefly to a caddis to a young hopper. 

Fishing a rubberlegs, perdigon, or caddis pupa underneath a salmonfly pattern or high floating dry fly is a great way to cover two zones when you’re waiting on the hatch. You can still find PMDs around midday, and the afternoon caddis hatch has been impressive. Terrestrials such as beetles and ants are coming into their own, and don’t overlook attractors like the Royal Wulff. 

Summer is the season of dry flies on the Yellowstone River. Go enjoy it! 

Madison River 

The Upper Madison River in mid July is pretty incredible. The murk of runoff is over, and the fishing is really, really good right now. There are a ton of insects on the water and conditions are ripe. The salmonfly hatch is mostly over, but you can still find some scattered big bugs way up high. The PMDs are still around, with lots of caddis in the evening. Golden stones and yellow sallies offer good dry fly opportunities all day. 

If you want to fish dry flies all day, keep a box of Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, Chubbies, and terrestrials close at hand. Fishing a big dry fly like a Stimulator with a smaller caddis pupa underneath it when you aren’t seeing fish rising is a good way to do it. 

The Lower Madison River is already reaching temps above 65 degrees every day, and we can expect it to reach the cutoff point of 68 any day now. If you want to get out and fish it, go now and go early. A Hoot Owl Restriction has been placed on the river from the Warm Springs access to the confluence with the Jefferson River, meaning no fishing from 2pm to midnight. We’d recommend going elsewhere and letting these fish rest. 

Gallatin River 

The Gallatin River is in prime shape, especially up in the canyon. Water temps are getting a bit higher than we’d like to see in the valley, but if you fish early in the day or in the evening you should be fine. We’d say head up into the Gallatin Canyon along Highway 191 and take advantage of the many accesses there. There are still some stoneflies out and about, and the afternoon caddis hatches have been prolific. (sensing a pattern across the entire region yet?) 

The spruce moth hatch that the Gallatin is very well known for hasn’t quite started yet, but should be kicking off in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for that. The Gallatin River can also get quite busy this time of year, especially given the number of accesses available. Give everyone room and be patient. 

Yellowstone National Park 

The West Side waters are getting a bit too warm for our liking already. These rivers, the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison, always tend to warm up early and there are better places to be in Yellowstone National Park right now. The Gibbon and Madison can still fish well early, but we’d say head for small streams or the Northeast corner. The Madison River from the park boundary to Hebgen Lake has a Hoot Owl restriction - no fishing from 2pm to midnight every day. 

The Lamar, Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek, and all the other miles of river in the NE corner are fishing quite well. The Grey Drakes of Slough Creek have had a good year, and you can find them midday into afternoon on the Lamar as well. Be willing to put some miles on the trail and get away from the easily accessible waters and you’ll do well. The Yellowstone River in the park is having good numbers of salmonflies, and can offer some good dry fly days through July. 

Be sure to be bear aware and carry bear spray with you. If you can fish in a group of three or more, do it. Respect for our wildlife is crucial for everyone’s wellbeing.

Livingston and the Shop 

This week after the 4th of July is always a bit of a breather here in Livingston. The festivities are fun, but it can be very busy! There is still so much to do in town and our local area - live music, festivals, art walks, farmer’s markets… Not to mention the incredible hiking and biking and camping! 

The shop is here to service your every need for any outdoor pursuit. Our excellent staff is available to answer any questions, help you find the right fly, and get you ready to enjoy Montana at its best. 

Tight lines this week!