23 July, 2023 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

The hot weather of summer has finally caught up with us this week, and we’re feeling it here in Livingston. The forecast has more 90s than anything else and the air just has that mid-summer feel to it. It’s a great time to be in Montana, and we are smack dab in the middle of many’s favorite season. There is something fun to do both outdoors and in town every day and no reason to not get outside! 

One note before we get too deep into things - as summer heats up so do our waters. Do your best to fish either early in the day or later in the evening, minimize time fighting fish, and keep your fish in the water as much as possible. Be sure to check for fishing hoot owl restrictions or closures if you’re unsure. You can do so on the FWPs website here: https://fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions

Now on the good stuff. 

Yellowstone River 

The Yellowstone River has been fishing really well, especially early and late in the day. The water is heating up, but flows are still good for this time of year. The weekends have been noticeably busier and it’s best to pack your patience at the boat ramp. 

As far as bugs go, you can still find a few golden stones around as well as yellow sallies, caddis, and even a few PMDs here and there though they are on their way out. There are plenty of options to keep you looking for heads all day, except in the hottest and brightest part of mid day. 

Subsurface you will find more action. Caddis pupa, attractor nymphs, perdigons, rubber legs, pheasant tails, and dead drifted streamers (small ones) are all good choices. Hang something like a perdigon or other jig nymphs under a rubberlegs and have at it. 

Hoppers? Still a touch early, but we have seen a few out and about…

These bright summer days can be tough. Our advice? Either be on the water at dawn and taking out when everyone else is putting on, or get out in the afternoon and fish til dark. It’s worth it. 

Madison River 

The Upper Madison continues to fish well. Things are heating up, but fish higher up in the river to avoid the warmer temps. Caddis, yellow sallies, and terrestrials are the main menu items up top. You could likely fish a smaller size chubby all day and be perfectly fine with that. 

The Lower Madison has a Hoot Owl restriction from Warm Springs to Black’s Ford - no fishing from 2pm to midnight. Honestly, unless you are walking wayyyy up Bear Trap there are better places to fish right now. The recreational floaters completely take over this stretch of river every summer and there are just better places to pursue trout. 

Gallatin River 

The Gallatin River in the canyon is fishing well. The salmonflies have come and gone, but you might find some golden stones here and there. Caddis are out in force, as well as terrestrials. Think ants and beetles instead of hoppers are this time. 

The big attraction to the Gallatin this time of year is the Spruce Moths. These moths provide some really fun dry fly fishing for hungry fish early in the morning to midday or so. If you don’t have a dedicated spruce moth pattern, an elk hair caddis with the wing smushed down will work just fine. That being said, we have a bunch of spruce moths that work great at the shop. It’s still a touch early, but stay tuned. 

The lower river is getting too warm in the afternoons, and while there aren’t any restrictions on it yet we would advise staying away from it. As on the Lower Madison there are just simply other better places to fish. 

Yellowstone National Park 

The NE corner of Yellowstone National Park is where it’s at right now. While the Madison and Gibbon Rivers are still fishing well on the west side, the sheer volume of awesome water over on our side offers a lot more choice and productive fisheries. Slough Creek, the Lamar, Soda Butte, the Yellowstone… All are fishing well right now. Not to mention the many, many small creeks and streams that criss cross the landscape. 

The typical summer hatches of yellow sallies, caddis, scattered PMDs, and terrestrials are all here too. Want to fish dries all day? Come to the park. 

Livingston and the Shop

Town is busy and we love to see it! We live in a great place and we love to share this town with all who visit. There is live music, farmer’s markets, rodeos, events, music festivals and much more for the rest of the summer. Come spend some time in Livingston and see what all the fuss is about. 

The shop is your one-stop shop for anything outdoors here in Southwest Montana. Our fully stocked fly shop can get you the gear and flies you need (as well as the right info), but if hiking, biking or camping is more your speed we’ve got all that too. 

Come say hello this week and share a fishing story! Tight lines.