22 April, 2022 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy Friday everyone. We made it through another week! The weather feels a bit more like April finally instead of the middle of winter. We’re getting a good soaking rain this morning and it looks like it will continue all day. The mountains are getting a lot of snow with this storm, which is awesome! 

Our snowpack numbers are slowly climbing, and if this cooler, wetter weather can continue we’ll be in a much better spot for runoff and summer water flows. We’re still well below average, but every drop of rain and flake of snow helps! It’s too early to tell how things will shape up for the summer. Fingers crossed! 

This past week things have been pretty snowy and cold across our region. The bulk of the snow from that storm last week is all melted down low in town, but it’s hanging on up high which is great. Water temps took a hit, but they’re still in the range where trout are getting more and more active. 

Things are picking up on the Yellowstone River. The streamer bite has been becoming noticeably more active - flashy patterns on bright days and darker patterns on cloudy days. Bring a variety of profiles, colors, and shapes to keep changing it up until you find what they want. Nymphing has been productive with a larger pattern up front and a smaller dropper. Try a dead drifted Zirdle Bug with a BWO nymph behind it. Hare’s Ears, Lightning Bugs, Copper Johns, and Perdigons are all good choices too. 

BWOs are showing up in good numbers on the cloudy days. When conditions are right, the dry fly fishing has been great. A reliable source said yesterday “more Baetis than I have ever seen on the Yellowstone.” Always good news. You can find fish on top if you look for them, but sounds like it has been pretty spotty. Try to get out of the wind and that will help. Have a variety of BWO dries in the box, and try swinging soft hackles if you aren’t finding fish on top. 

Baetis are making a showing across the state, kicking off the spring dry fly season. You’ll find the best hatches on the Madison (both upper and lower) and Missouri, but you can find a few of them on the Gallatin as well. The same basic report holds true - things slowed down a bit with the cold weather, water temps are slowly coming up, water is low everywhere, and things are going to get better soon. 

Flows on the Upper Madison remain very, very low as Northwest Energy is holding water back from Hebgen Dam in anticipation of a low water year. If you are fishing the Upper, be aware of this! Most of the side channels mid valley down are dry or a trickle. Be ready to leave some paint behind on the river bed if you’re floating. 

Rainbows are still in the middle of their spawn, so watch your step. You’ll typically find redds (their spawning areas) in shallower, gravelly areas. You can see them by noticing the lighter colored, cleared off portion of the gravel. LEAVE THEM ALONE. These fish are trying to do their thing and support a healthy wild population. Don’t fish to them, don’t walk through them, just leave them alone. 

We’re still getting new product and refills on things every week down here at the shop. From technical fishing clothing to rods/reels/lines and everything you need, we’ve got it. Stop by and check it out and visit for a while. See you on the water!