15 July, 2023 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Welcome to peak season in Montana! The sun is out, temps are warm, and the rivers are in great shape. This is the season that we anglers dream of. There’s lots going on here in Montana, so read on to find out more. 

Before we get into the nitty gritty, a note on hot weather and water temps. While most of the rivers in our area are still staying reasonably cool, the weather is warming up and our rivers are heating for the summer. There is already a Hoot Owl restriction on the Lower Madison River below Warm Springs, and we are sure more are to follow at some point. 

We wrote a blog post about fishing in hot temps, which you review here. Be mindful of the conditions, and do what’s best for the fish. 

Yellowstone River 

The Yellowstone River is fishing well! Flows are good, color is good, fishing is good. The salmonflies are pretty much here and gone, but you can still find a few of them up high. Golden stones are out and about and it might be a higher percentage option to fish those instead of salmonflies. Hang a caddis pupa, rubberlegs or small zonker or sculpin underneath it and fish two zones at once. 

There are a lot of options for dry flies at the moment. Caddis, golden stones, yellow sallies, a few PMDs… Take your pick! You can fish dries all day long if you’d like. If you aren’t seeing risers and aren’t finding any luck searching with dries, caddis pupa, attractor nymphs, small rubberlegs, and perdigons are all producing well. 

July is an incredible time of year on the Yellowstone River. Don’t miss out! 

Madison River 

Salmonflies have been the name of the game on the Upper Madison for the last couple of weeks. They’re still around, but are slowing down. Focus on the upper river in the walk wade area if you’re dead set on chasing them. Beyond that, fishing has been really good. Lots of dry fly action - caddis, PMDs, yellow sallies, golden stones. If you want to dedicate to the dry, now is a good time to do it. 

As mentioned, the Lower Madison has a Hoot Owl fishing closure from 2pm to midnight below Warm Springs Fishing Access. As this is the most popular fishing stretch, go early. By going early you can beat most of the recreational floater traffic as well. Fishing has been pretty decent - good dry fly action, with nymphs like crayfish and a caddis pupa, outperforming. 

At this point in the year walking up Bear Trap will provide you with some better fishing and more solitude (if you’re willing to walk far enough). Watch for poison ivy and rattlesnakes, be kind to everyone you meet, and enjoy the day. 

Gallatin River 

Salmonflies can still be found in the upper stretches on the Gallatin River, especially if you venture up into the park (just be sure you have your yellowstone park fishing permit). If you don’t want to drive that far, fishing in the canyon is really good right now. Caddis, PMDs and Golden Stones are all providing good dry fly action, and hanging an attractor nymph, perdigon or caddis pupa off the back of a larger dry can be deadly. 

Fishing down in the valley has been good as well, but the days are numbered. If you want to fish this stretch before water temps get too high, now is the time. It can be really good! 

Yellowstone National Park 

Fishing across Yellowstone National Park is good. Really good. If you want to see what brings anglers from around the world to Yellowstone, now is the time to check it out. The western side of the park is still doing well, with perhaps the Firehole River edging toward too warm. Still, the Gibbon and Madison Rivers can offer good fishing. Look for scattered salmonflies on the Madison, and caddis and PMDs on both. Be willing to walk a bit to get away from traffic for the best fishing, and always carry bear spray and know how to use it. 

The NE corner is where it’s at. And we aren’t just saying that because it’s the closest one to us. Slough Creek, Soda Butte, and the Lamar (not counting the countless smaller waters, ponds and lakes) are all fishing really well. Caddis and PMDs abound, and you can find drakes in a few scattered places here and there still. It won’t be long before hoppers are out! 

Livingston and the Shop 

July is a great time to be in Livingston. There is so much going on, live music, farmer’s markets, festivals and events. Take any given weekend and you’ll find something fun to do! The store is on our summer hours: 8am to 6pm (closing at 3pm on Sundays) and we are here to help you make the most of our fleeting Montana summer. 

Tight lines this week!