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

Happy Monday everyone, and welcome to late August. September is on the horizon and with it the promise of cooler weather, bugling elk, and fall hatches. Fall is a great time to be in Montana. It’s a sportsman’s paradise with more activities to do than you’ll have time for. Come see for yourself here in a few weeks… 

Water temps across the state are really climbing, so fish early to beat the heat. Use a strong enough rod and leader to fight the fish quickly, keep it in the water as much as possible and release it as fast as you can. Keep in mind that fish can take a bit longer to recover after a fight in this warmer water so give them the time they need. 

Yellowstone River 

The Yellowstone River dealt with some muddy water earlier this week, and was muddy for most of the last week or so. This mud kept most anglers off it for a few days at least, which is probably a nice respite for the fish. Things are clear now and we’re back on track. 

Water temps have been getting pretty darn hot on the Yellowstone lately. The temp gauge at the monitoring station here in town is currently offline, but was reading low to mid 70s before it went down. The Corwin gauge is showing high 60s every day. The interesting thing is that the water temp is coming way down at night, which is great. Fish early in the day to minimize impact on the fish and to have better fishing. 

Currently the only closure or restriction on the Yellowstone is the enduring closure of Mayor’s Landing to Sheep Mountain. We don’t expect this to open back up anytime soon. Please note that nearby the Shields River is under a Hoot Owl and in our opinion should be closed entirely. We’ve had more people than we’d expect in the shop asking about it - just give it a break. It’s in bad shape and needs some rest. There are too many other good places. 

Like we mentioned, fishing early in the day on the Yellowstone River will get you the best success. There isn’t really much going on for hatches right now, so attractors and terrestrials are the name of the game. Fishing a rubber legs or larger nymph under a hopper has been very productive on the river. While hoppers get the big billing this time of year, don’t overlook things like ants and beetles. 

Nymphing will definitely get you into more fish, if you feel like staring at an indicator this time of year. A rubber legs or dead drifted streamer with a pheasant tail, lightning bug, or copper john behind it can be deadly. 

Madison River 

The Lower Madison remains under a Hoot Owl restriction and we’re recommending just avoiding it right now. It’s a mess with tubers and those fish could use a break. 

The Upper Madison is still fishing well, and we’ve seen some very nice fish coming out of it recently. The section from 8 Mile to Ennis Lake remains under a Hoot Owl. Fish early for best success and to avoid most of the crowds. It’s amazing what offsetting your float by a couple of hours can do for some solitude on the river. 

Hoppers and terrestrials are the name of the game for dry flies right now. Fish the water that’s hard to reach, or you have to walk a bit further to, to find unpressured fish. This is the time of year when fishing patterns that are even slightly different than what the fish have seen all summer long can pay off in a big way. 

This time of year it’s a great idea to carry a water thermometer stop fishing when it hits 70 or so. Like we said, fish early. It’s better for the fish and better for the experience. We’re looking forward to fall on the Upper, which is pretty darn spectacular. It’s coming soon! 

Gallatin River 

The Gallatin River in the canyon and above remains a decent choice. Be mindful of the green algae bloom below Big Sky. This recurring issue pops up every summer it seems, and it’s a can of worms we won’t go into here. Just keep it in mind. You’ll find a pile of people between Big Sky and the canyon mouth, but from Big Sky to the park boundary it’s much less busy. 

As with the rest of the state, you won’t find all that much for insect hatches this time of year. Bring an assorted box of terrestrials, attractors, and a few general purpose nymphs. The Gallatin River is pretty low this time of year, so fishing deep can lead to more snags than anything else. Look for the good holding water, and bonus points if it’s not right by a highway pullout. 

We’d recommend staying away from anything out of the canyon to the confluence. The only stretch with an official restriction on it is from Cameron Bridge down, but it’s low and it’s warm. The canyon stretch does stay shaded and cooler than elsewhere, but we’d still say fish early for best results. 

Other Waters 

Not a lot has changed since our last report in the other waters in the state. It’s hot, water temps are high, and not much is hatching. Fish early to beat the heat, handle fish well, and have a good mix of attractors, terrestrials, and all purpose nymphs in the box. You can check out the list of current restrictions on the FWP website here.

The high country beckons this time of year - get away from crowds and out of the heat in the mountains. Trails are dry, streams are cold, and the incredible serenity of high mountain lakes is just a few hours of effort away. Our season in the high country never lasts as long as we’d like, don’t waste it! 

The Shop

The dog days of summer are a waiting game of sorts. Waiting on cooler weather, waiting on the fall hatches to kick off and usher in some of the best fishing of the season. We’ve been getting a lot of calls and interest in fall fishing over the past week and we’re expecting a great season coming up. 

The shop remains very well stocked on everything you need to get out, find fish, and enjoy your time in Montana. Stop by for the latest info, best flies, and friendliest service you could ask for! Tight lines this week.