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

The busiest and arguably best weekend of the summer is upon us here in Livingston! There is a lot going on around our little area in the next few days, including the famous parade this afternoon and the rodeo later today. 

For anglers, there is a lot going on too. The Yellowstone River is finally dropping into shape, and word on the street is that the big bugs are out and about. Read on to find out more! 

Yellowstone River 

The Yellowstone River dipped below 10,000 cfs for the first time in a while today! While visibility still isn’t great, there is plenty for fishing. It feels good to say that the river is finally fishable again. Even though it’s under 10k, remember that this is still big water. Wade carefully, especially not being able to see where you’re stepping very well. If you’re rowing, be mindful that things are moving pretty fast. 

Salmonflies are out and about, but the hatch hasn’t really started in full force yet. Be sure to have some patterns in the box, and rubberlegs fished tight to the bank under an adult pattern is a great strategy. While everyone wants to focus on this hatch, there is still lots going on that can provide some great fishing. Keep an eye out for golden stones, PMDs, caddis and more. It’s going to be a good week on the Yellowstone. 

For subsurface, streamers on cloudy days can be killer. If you’re into throwing big flies, now is a great time to do it. Nymphing can be very productive with rubberlegs and stonefly patterns, as well as PMD nymphs, caddis pupa, and general attractor nymphs. Focus on the more clear water near the banks and you should have a good time. 

Madison River 

Once again, salmonflies are the name of the game on the Upper Madison River. Big flies, big fish, big fun. The river has been pretty busy in the last few weeks with the Yellowstone out of commission but as other waters open up after runoff, expect things to spread out a bit. The entire Upper Madison is fishing really well right now - stoneflies, caddis, PMDs… take your pick. 

If you aren’t seeing dry fly eats, fish a rubberlegs or other stonefly pattern followed by a mayfly nymph or caddis pupa tight against the banks. A dead drifted streamer under an indicator is always a really good choice. The classics (wooly bugger, zonker, etc) work great in this instance. 

The Lower Madison continues to fish well, but we are starting to get a lot more recreational floater traffic. The hot weather makes everyone want to get out and enjoy what Montana has to offer! To beat the crowds you can float below Black’s Fork, or if you’re insistent on the Warm to Black’s stretch go early or late. For wade anglers, a stroll up Bear Trap can pay off big time. Be mindful of snakes and poison ivy, but go walk until you feel like stopping. 

Gallatin River 

The Gallatin River is still running high, but is fishing well. The Canyon stretch has cleared up well and with its wealth of access there are plenty of spots to enjoy the river. Fishing above Taylor’s Fork and on up into the park can be a lot of fun this time of year, especially if you’re insistent on clear water. 

We’re still waiting on the premiere summer hatches on the Gallatin - namely the Salmonflies and Spruce Moths. Stay tuned on those, but it certainly won’t be long for the salmonflies. While the Yellowstone and Madison get the most press for this impressive hatch, the Gallatin has a lot to offer as well. 

Stonefly patterns fished tight to the bank with an attractor nymph trailer can be a really good option. Keep an eye out for rising fish, of which you will find more of in the evenings. This is a great time of year on the Gallatin, before the weeds and moss of late summer. Get out there! 

Yellowstone National Park 

Fishing in Yellowstone National Park has been improving quite a bit over the past week or so. The waters of the Northeast Corner are all in fine shape, which plays very well into our favor here in Livingston. The Lamar, Soda Butte, and Slough Creek attract anglers from around the world, and for good reason. Want to catch native cutthroat in a wild place they’ve been living literally forever? Try here. 

The west side of the park has continued to fish well. The Firehole River is starting to heat up with these warm days, so try to avoid fishing in the middle of the day. The Gibbon and Madison are doing quite well. 

On all the Yellowstone Park waters, look for PMDs, caddis, and drakes here and there. Keep in mind that all hooks must be debarbed and no lead is allowed. You’ll also need a fishing permit specific to the park. Oh, and don’t forget the bear spray! 

Livingston and the Shop

As mentioned before, this is about the busiest week of the entire summer here in Livingston. There is so much going on - the parade today, the art fair across the street, the rodeo, farmers markets, music, good food… the list goes on! It’s a beautiful start to the summer here and Livingston should absolutely be on your list to visit this year. 

Here at the shop we’ve got everything you need to get out and enjoy Montana in the summer time. From rods, reels, flies, and the right info to hiking gear and even e-bike rentals! If you’re in town for the festivities this weekend, come by and say hello. 

Tight lines this week!