Thanks to some cooler temps and rain, the Yellowstone River has cooled off considerably since our last report. Looking at the chart (find it here) the river hasn’t gotten above 70 degrees for a week! We have had some issues with muddy water, thanks to rain up the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone. These heavy afternoon storms bring some much needed moisture and cooler temps, but they can blow the river out for a few days.
Even with these cooler temps, the Yellowstone and many of our surrounding waters remain on Hoot Owl Restrictions - no fishing between 2pm and midnight each day. You can check the full list of waterbody restrictions on Montana FWPs website here.
Fishing between the muddy water has been really good on the Yellowstone lately. Get up early and get out there. Nocturnal stones are still around, as well as scattered caddis. August is always a month between major hatches, but… It’s also hopper season!
Walk through any field around Montana and you’ll kick up clouds of grasshoppers. The conditions are right for the most prolific hopper season in recent memory. There are a LOT of them out and about this year. Be ready with different sizes, profiles, materials, and colors. Sometimes they want the crazy big blue one that floats way up high, sometimes they want the classic patterns that sit much, much lower in the water. Have a few handy.
While hopper patterns can get fish looking up anywhere in the river, focus on two areas this time of year. First, grassy banks are always a good bet, especially on windy days. The hoppers will get blown in the water and the trout are hungrily waiting. Undercut banks, hay fields adjacent to the river, tall grass... Find the foliage and find the bugs.
Second, fish the middle of the river. Like, smack dab right in the middle in the deep water. Warm water temps and a summer of pressure will push the fish from the banks and shallower water out into the deeper, cooler water. Sometimes they just can’t resist a big, juicy terrestrial. Hang a flashy nymph off the back and fish two zones at once.
Don’t overlook other terrestrials such as ants and beetles, they can be just as deadly. Be sure to have a handful of attractors if you’re venturing into the high country for small streams too. The high country, both lakes and streams, remain a great option for those seeking hungry fish and colder water.
The report for the rest of the region is about the same. It’s been hot, there are a lot of restrictions, but the fishing has been good. The Boulder, Stillwater, Missouri, Upper Madison, and Gallatin are all good bets in the morning hours. Yellowstone Park is another solid option, but be ready to deal with lots of people. Also, the entire park is on Hoot Owl Restrictions.
Remember, this time of year it’s vital to be mindful of fishing restrictions and stop fishing when the legal time ends. Play your fish quickly, and leave them in the water as much as possible. If you have to snap a picture, get one quickly and then release the fish.
We’re open 8am-6pm Monday-Saturday and 8am-3pm on Sundays to help you find the perfect fly, new rod, and all the gear you might need. Need up to the minute info? Stop by or give us a call!