Happy Friday! We made it through another week. Despite a cool front pushing through last night to bring some much chillier temps, it feels like summer is here in full force. The 10-day forecast has a few 90s and lots of 80s in it, and the snowpack is pretty much gone. The Yellowstone River hit its peak earlier this week and is already dropping.
Does that mean the Yellowstone is fishable right now?
In short, yes. Flows are dropping and clarity is improving every day right now. As of this writing (7:15am on Friday morning) the river is at 10,600 cfs and dropping. It’s going to be game on here very soon. Keep tabs on the current flow here.
As you can see from the charts here, our snowpack is far below normal for this time of year. While this has long term negative affects for the summer, it means a shorter runoff and earlier fishing for the river. With clarity like it is now, don’t expect much on top. Your best tactic for the Yellowstone would be big flies that are easy to see in this kind of conditions.
Double nymph rigs of a big, dark stonefly nymph pattern like a Pat’s Rubberlegs fished tight to the bank should be working well. The big stonefly hatches are right around the corner and the nymphs are beginning their migration towards the banks. These large morsels live in the river for 2-3 years and are always present. The higher, faster water pushes them around and makes them easy prey for hungry trout.
With Salmonflies and golden stones on the horizon, come in to the shop and stock up on flies before they’re gone! Our bins are full of some great patterns and we’re betting they don’t last too long.
Streamers are a good choice right now as well. Anything large that creates a disturbance and pushes water around will be noticeable in these murky waters. Dead drifting streamers is always a solid bet this time of year, fish them under an indicator and give them a good twitch now and then. Subtle movement when dead drifting streamers is key, even the bump and wiggle from mending adds realism and action.
There is lots more to come for the Yellowstone in the coming weeks! Now through July is going to be the prime months this year.
Our other regional freestones are in the same boat as the Yellowstone. High and dirty, but clarity on the horizon. The Gallatin should be fishable soon, and the Madison has been producing some good fish lately. Tailwaters like the Missouri and Henry’s Fork remain a great option. The drive to Craig might be a ways, but if you’ve got dry fly fever you can scratch the itch.
The Northeast Corner of Yellowstone National Park is still high and dirty but, like everywhere else, dropping in shape. The Firehole and Madison are approaching water temps where we recommend avoiding fishing, and with the forecast coming up, we are not currently recommending people fish these streams. If you are fishing on the hot days fish early or late, fight your fish quickly and keep them in the water while you release them.
The spring creeks are a solid option as well, if you can get on them. Local stillwaters have been producing good fish as well and remain a great play as you’re waiting for the river to drop. Mountain streams are dropping into shape nicely too…
Fishing is about to get good in our neck of the woods! Give us a call at 406.222.1673 or stop by the shop for the latest intel, flies, and gear. Tight lines this weekend!