23 February, 2022 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Winter is back! It’s -15 below zero as this report is written, with a windchill in the mid -30s. Finally, we’re getting some winter weather. Our local mountains and snowpack got a much, much needed boost of moisture with this storm. We’ll take everything we can get right now! It’s still too early to tell how the summer is going to be, pending late spring snow pack and spring temps, but we’re still hoping for more.

The forecast this week is looking pretty chilly. Things start to warm up on Friday, and we’ll be back in the 40s by this weekend. The cold weather is much needed for the area, but it does put a damper on the fishing. Icy guides and frozen fingers are the norm when temps are this cold. Slush and ice in the river become a valid concern again, as well as shore ice. Be careful out there. 

Not a whole lot has changed on the Yellowstone River. Things are pretty locked up in mid-valley, but there is open water below Pine Creek and above Yankee Jim. Fishing has been pretty slow, but it’s always worth getting out for a few hours. For those of us in Livingston, it’s a great option for a couple hours if you feel cabin fever setting in. 

As always this time of year, the local spring creeks are the best bet for winter fishing. These pay-to-play creeks offer consistent water temps that keep fish active and bugs hatching all winter long. Keep an eye out for midges on the warmer days, and midge patterns subsurface all day long. These fish are remarkably picky, so bring your A-game. 

The Gallatin is still a good bet through the canyon, but be very mindful of ice jams and flows. Standard winter patterns fished in the deep and slow water can yield results out here, and with the plethora of pullouts and access points you can usually find a decent spot to fish. Given this ease of access, it can be busier than other places so keep that in mind. 

The Lower Madison remains a great choice for winter fishing, but be ready to deal with the wind. We’ve heard reliable reports of fish eating midges on the top during the warmer days, and if you are itching for some dry fly action this is where to go. Hiking up Bear Trap Canyon offers you a lot of water and generally less angler traffic the farther up you go. Crawfish patterns and dead drifted streamers are a good play as well. 

Late February into March is typically the best winter fishing of the season. Temps start creeping up, midges are hatching, and the thought of summer days and wet wading is right around the corner (or so it seems). There is still a lot of great winter fishing to be had, with things only getting better and better through the spring and into summer. 

We are now booking guide trips for the 2022 season! The prime dates are already filling up fast, so don’t wait. A guided fly fishing trip is perfect whether you are a total beginner or a seasoned angler. Our knowledgeable and experienced guides can teach you, help you, and show you around our beautiful area. Get more info and book your trip on our website here

If going out and breaking ice out of your guides every few minutes doesn’t sound too appealing, fly tying might be more up your alley. Our fly tying selection is fully stocked for what you need from hooks, materials, vises, and tools. We’ve got everything you need to stay warm and comfy on and off the water as well. New waders and boots are starting to show up if you need those too!