20 August, 2021 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

What a change this week has been! Starting Tuesday afternoon, temps dropped way down and it started raining. This much needed precipitation has made us question if it’s still August anymore! While as of this morning the Yellowstone was up several hundred CFS since before the store, clarity in town isn’t too bad. Looking at the Montana Whitewater Webcam in Gardiner, the mud is coming. The Lamar did spike precipitously this week, so we can expect some dirty water soon. 

The other big advantage of all this rain and cooler weather is the drop in water temps. Yesterday the water temp in town got to 58 degrees! Rivers across the state are seeing a drop in temps as well. This is a much needed respite for the fish after an especially hot and dry summer. 

Weekend into early next week fishing on the Yellowstone totally depends on if the river muddies up or not. Clarity will be affected, it’s just a matter of to what degree at this point. The cooler temps and cloudy skies have many leaning toward seeing if the streamer bite is any good (it could be…) and fishing larger profile, dark silhouette flies. A big stonefly pattern or flashy nymph below a grasshopper or Chubby would be a good bet. 

The hopper bite could be affected by this cooldown as well. They certainly won’t be quite as active until it warms back up a bit. Don’t overlook fishing them though. From the reports we’ve heard, hoppers are working well but the “hopper bite” where they’re working *really well* is lasting only a couple of hours a day. Grassy banks, undercuts, and hay fields by the river are all good spots to increase your chances. Be fishing hoppers in the deeper, cooler water in the middle of the river. These cooler temps will spread the trout out a lot, but it won’t last too long... 

Even with the lifting of Hoot Owl Restrictions on the Upper Madison, parts of the Missouri, and Stillwater, many waterways across the state are facing the fishing closure from 2pm to midnight each day. Be sure to check for updated closures and restrictions before headed out. 

Other waters in our area such as the Boulder, Stillwater, Gallatin, and Upper Madison are all fishing pretty well. There isn’t a whole lot happening for hatch activity, but hoppers and terrestrials are keeping people occupied. Flashy nymphs behind a large attractor nymph like a rubberlegs, mega prince or even dead drifted streamer are a good option. 

Yellowstone National Park remains under a park-wide Hoot Owl restriction. No fishing after 2pm! There is still some cold water to be found around the park, and we’ve heard good things from the Northeast corner lately. 
*UPDATE (12:20pm 8/20/21) - Yellowstone has lifted their Hoot Owl Restrictions as of today. Fishing is now legal through the entire park from sunrise to sunset on all waters. 

Mountain lakes and small streams remain a great choice these days. Summer is winding down, and the days of backpacking and camping out are somewhat numbered. Make the most of them while you can! Get out and explore that lake you’ve heard about, or the stream you’ve always wanted to fish. Summer is short here in Montana (even if this one hasn’t felt like it!).

Even with cooler water temps, play your fish quickly, keep them in the water as much as possible, and release them as fast as you can. Fish barbless hooks and be mindful of the stresses you’re putting on the fish. 

As always, we’ve got everything you need to make the most of your fishing days here in Montana! Stop by the shop for the latest up to the minute info, the hot flies, and right gear. Tight lines!