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

Happy September folks! Kids are back in school, the mornings have a nice crispness to them, and the corner has been turned on the seasons. While fall is still a ways away, it’s coming up fast. Fall brings some incredible fishing opportunities and while we’re waiting for those there is still plenty to do in the meantime. 

With cooler mornings and evenings, water temps are staying at somewhat reasonable levels across most of the state. That being said, it’s still summer and you should be aware of that fact. Fish early or late, keep fish in the water as much as possible, try to limit your fight times, and general do your best to avoid placing undue stress on the fish and the resource. Water is pretty low across much of the state, so keep that in mind while floating or planning your days out and about.

Yellowstone River 

Things have been fishing pretty well on the Yellowstone lately. We’ve had some muddy water due to the evening storms we’ve had lately, mainly coming from way up in the Park. With school in session and summer vacationers dwindling, week day pressure on the river has slacked off a bit. You can still expect  busy boat ramps and playing bumper boats through most of the popular stretches, but just remember everyone is here to have a good time, be respectful and aware of your surroundings.

Hoppers and terrestrials are the main course still, but we are seeing some other hatches. As evidenced by our social media post yesterday, white miller caddis are out and about. These caddis are a larger size and creamy white/tan color that offer good dry fly opportunities. While big hopper patterns get the bulk of the headlines this time of year, don’t forget ants and smaller attractors. A drownded ant pattern fished just under the surface can be highly effective. 

Another hatch to keep an eye out for is nocturnal stones. Get out there early and fish a darker chubby pattern tighter to the bank. Never hurts… 

Fall is streamer season, and right now we’re still a bit away from peak conditions to be dredging the big stuff. However, don’t be afraid to throw a streamer early and late on these late summer days. Midday you likely won’t find them as productive, especially on bright sunny days. Even a small dead drifted streamer is a good idea right now. 

Madison River 

While things are improving a bit on the Lower Madison, it’s still the realm of the tubers for the next little bit. Combine that with warm water conditions and there’s just better places to go. 

The Upper Madison River has been fishing well. The same advice for the Yellowstone pertains here. Fish early, fish late, things are slower in the middle of the day. Look for hoppers, terrestrials, and afternoon caddis. If you’re wade fishing, invest the time to walk a bit to get some distance from access points. 

Fall is a pretty killer time to be here. Stay tuned… 

Gallatin River 

The Gallatin River remains in late summer mode. Below Big Sky you’ll encounter more algae growth and rafters, but there’s some good runs and pockets to spend an afternoon in. We still aren’t recommending below the canyon, but its time is coming soon! 

Terrestrials, attractors, and afternoon caddis are the name of the game. If you’re willing to drive up to the Park boundary and above, you’ll likely have some better days. Keep your head on a swivel and find some quiet water and have at it. 

Yellowstone National Park 

Fall in Yellowstone National Park is a fly fisherman’s paradise. There’s generally less people, the air is crisp, elk are bugling, and there’s a multitude of hatches and angling opportunities around the park that just beg you to call out of work “sick” more than you should and spend a small fortune in gas to explore over the next couple months. 

It’s still very much late summer, but fall is coming up fast. Hoppers, ants, beetles and attractors are all a good option. Try chubbies and nocturnal stone patterns on the Yellowstone River, and hang an attractor nymph below a foam hopper to work two zones. The Northeast Corner waters of the Gardiner, Slough Creek, and Lamar are all fishing well. Put some distance in from the parking lot and you’ll be rewarded. The well known waters like the second and third meadow of Slough Creek are seeing a lot of traffic. 

As we move into fall, be hyper aware of your surrounding and always carry bear spray and know how to use it. As fishermen, our sport puts us in places bears might be at the times they’re most active, so just be careful out there. 

Livingston and the Shop 

September is an awesome month to be in Livingston (aren’t they all though?). There’s still a lot of activities and things going on and lots to enjoy on our slice of heaven here. 

The shop is slowly shifting toward our seasonal transition and you’ll find a lot of great new arrivals for the chillier weather. We’ve got everything you need to capitalize on your time on the water and outdoors here in Montana, whether you’re here for a lifetime or just a few days. 

Stop by and tell us a fish story next time you’re downtown. Tight lines this week!