17 September, 2021 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy Friday folks! It’s hard to believe that September is more than halfway over. Last night was our first freeze of the fall here in town and it’s beginning to feel like the change of seasons is right around the corner. Leaves are turning in town and all through our area. Has fall fishing kicked off yet? 

Well, not really. While our mornings and evenings have had that nip in the air, temps in the afternoons have still been in the 80s. Summer hasn’t quite let go yet! Water temps on the Yellowstone have been in the low to mid 60s for the week, and flows have been hovering just above record low levels. Get the real time data here. We are expecting a rain event this weekend, so keep an eye out for a bump in flows as a mud plug moves through. 

This freeze last night is going to have an impact on the hopper fishing. It has been pretty good, especially in the late mornings and afternoons after they’ve had a chance to warm up. They will still be around, and it’s still worth fishing them but the window is closing fast. Focus on undercut banks and grassy areas near ag fields. You’ll know if they’re around and active! 

Ants, beetles, and smaller terrestrials are a higher percentage bet than bigger hopper patterns most of the time. Fish one behind a hopper and see which one works best. If you’re fishing early or late, flashy nymphs or streamers might be a better option. For streamers, dead drifting them under an indicator is just as effective as stripping, even if it is a bit less fun. 

Our renowned fall hatches haven’t kicked off yet, but you can still find a few caddis here and there. The fall fishing that brings serious anglers from all over to our backyard is right around the corner. It’s just a matter of being patient, soaking up these remaining warm summer days, and watching the weather and water temps. Stay tuned. 

As far as other waters in our region go, we’ve heard about the same. The Upper Madison, Gallatin, Boulder, and Stillwater are all fishing well. Flows are low across the board, but water temps are staying stable. After the conditions we had earlier in the season, we’re all pretty glad to see lower water temps! 

It’s still plenty busy out there, especially on weekends. That being said, be patient at busy boat ramps, be prepared to dump your boat and clear the water and you’ll be just fine. Everyone is out there for the same reasons and trying to enjoy the same things you are. Speaking of crowds, Yellowstone National Park recently released visitation data from last month - marking it as the busiest August in the Park’s history. 

Yellowstone in the fall is a very special place and one well worth the trip. The fall colors are pretty incredible and the bugling elk will provide a great backdrop to catching native fish. Fall is about the best time of year to fish in Yellowstone. Currently, we’ve heard good things from the Lamar and Soda Butte and other waters in the Northeast Corner. The waters on the western side of the park are still running too low and too warm for us to recommend fishing them, but that will likely change very soon. If you head into the Park know that you will be seeing and fishing around other people. Walk far enough and you will find some solitude! 

Things are only going to improve for a while as we head into fall. If you’re after the latest info stop by the shop or give us a call at 406.222.1673. We’ve got the flies, gear, and info you need! Good luck out there this weekend.