17 September, 2022 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

We made it through another week! The forecast is certainly looking up for the coming week, with lots of fall weather in the 10-day. Love it. This is the kind of weather we all look forward to. Is fall fishing here? Not yet, but it’s pretty darn close! 

Yellowstone River

At the risk of sounding like a broken record here - late summer conditions have been continuing on the Yellowstone River. Days have been hot, the air has been smoky, and hoppers have been working. The bright sun isn’t great for dry fly fishing, but the coming clouds might improve that. Think about it like this - if you were looking up at the glare of a bright day without sunglasses, would you want to? 

Hoppers and terrestrials such as ants and beetles are the name of the game up top. Our fall hatches are still a ways out, so might as well fish a hopper or big attractor with a nymph off the back. If you aren’t finding much success on top, fishing two subsurface flies is a great choice. A bigger pattern like a rubber legs, mega prince or dead drifted streamer with an attractor nymph behind it works pretty darn well. If you just want action, put a hare’s ear or lightning bug on for the whitefish.

The river from Mayor’s to Sheep Mountain remains closed. Remember that Sheep Mountain does NOT have a sanctioned boat ramp, and please don’t drive down the dry channel to put a boat in. Once they are able to get the old rail bridge at 89 out, hopefully this stretch of river will open up. 

Fall on the Yellowstone is really awesome. It’s coming soon… 

Madison River 

Same same on the Madison. Fall is coming up fast. The late summer pattern on the Upper Madison River continues with some pretty good fishing to be had on hoppers and hopper/dropper rigs. Terrestrials are the name of the game right now and don’t overlook ants and beetles. The key fall hatches are coming up, but they’re still ahead of us. 

Lots of folks are looking forward to fall streamer fishing on the Upper Madison, and rightfully so. It’s the season to have a good chance at catching your biggest fish of the entire year. Break out the 7wt and swing for the fences. 

The Lower Madison is still the realm of tubers and recreationalists, and while the Hoot Owl restriction has been lifted, there are better options for anglers. If you simply have to fish the Lower, float below Black’s Ford or walk way up into Bear Trap Canyon. As the cooler weather in the forecast thins the recreationalists out, fishing will improve. Stay tuned. The Lower Madison can be a great fall fishery. 

Gallatin River 

Late summer conditions persist on the Gallatin River. We are encouraging people to fish in the canyon and above and not really mess with stuff down in the valley. There aren’t any restrictions on that water, but it needs a bit of a break and will only get better as temps cool down. 

Things are fishing reasonably well in the canyon, though be aware of the algae bloom below Big Sky. There are a ton of access options, which is great since this stretch of river is always pretty busy. Bring some hoppers and attractors for up top, and your “standard” nymphs for sub surface. Perdigon style flies are working well. 

As with everywhere else, we are waiting on our fall hatches to kick in. It’s not bad now, but it’s going to be a whole lot better here soon. 

Other Waters 

As water temps slowly recover from summer highs, restrictions are lifted and we shift more into the fall pattern around the state, there are a ton of options for fishing in SW Montana. Do some exploring. Take that drive you’ve always wanted to, spend a weekend day trying out some new water. 

The high country still beckons these days, and September is one of the best months for hiking and backpacking of the entire year. The high country lakes are still fishing well, and the small water is well worth your time. This can be some of the most rewarding fishing you’ll find around here, even if the fish are small. The effort required to get there doesn’t equal the size of fish, but we would argue the experience more than makes up for it. 

Livingston and the Store 

Things are slowly starting to slow down in Livingston. We had our first rainy day in way too long yesterday, and have more in the forecast. Walking around town you can start to see the first color change of the fall season. It’s just that time of year. We’re starting to see a subtle shift in what people are buying for the upcoming season here in the store. 

Our fly bins are full for upcoming fall fishing, and we are excited to be your one-stop shop for all your fishing, camping, biking, and hiking needs. We are starting to get fall apparel and gear in to keep you warm and dry during your time outdoors. 

Stop by our storefront or give us a call at 406.222.1673 for the latest info and advice on where to go. Tight lines this week!