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

Happy Spring everyone! We’re now officially on to the next season, and it certainly feels like it outside. With a forecast of 61 today and lots of 50s/60s coming up it’s pretty safe to say that spring fishing is right around the corner. 

First, to get it out of the way, let’s talk snowpack. Despite a decent storm recently, numbers still aren’t where we want them to be. All of our river basins here in southwest Montana are sitting in the 80th percentile. There are a lot of factors that come into play on how the rivers will be this year. We’ll be keeping a very close eye on conditions as we move into spring, and will be hoping for more snow. 

It’s impossible at this point to say how this summer’s water conditions will be. But we remain optimistic! 

So how’s the fishing been lately? 

Things are definitely improving. Warmer temps are melting ice in the river, driving some insect activity, and the trout are getting more active. We’ve seen and heard more positive reports this past week or so than we have in a while. The large ice jam mid-valley on the Yellowstone River has melted, opening up more ramps and float options. 

Nymphing has been the most consistent, but you can find a few fish eating midges off the top in places where the wind isn’t howling too badly. A two-fly rig with a larger attractor fly followed by a hare’s ear, pheasant tail, or lightning bug has been the most productive. Fish something like a dead drifted wooly bugger or stonefly pattern as your lead fly. Perdigons have been effective as well, like always. Streamer fishing is picking up as the fish get more active. A slow presentation has been best with larger flies. 

The Lower Madison has been fishing better as well, and if you’re after a dry fly day that’s where we would head in our local area. The easily accessible places are getting pretty crowded on these beautiful spring days, but walk up Bear Trap a ways and you’ll find some solitude. The Gallatin through the canyon is fishing pretty decently as well. 

This is the time of year when the warm weather shifts everyone’s focus from skiing to fishing and we all start hoping for spring to arrive in full force. Our really good spring hatches are coming up fast, and as water continues to warm we will see an uptick of interest in streamers as well. 

Pre-runoff spring fishing can be some of the best of the year. The waters are less crowded, the trout are feisty, healthy, and hungry after a long winter, and the air is (hopefully) free of wildfire smoke that’s become the norm later in the summer. Give us a call for more info on spring fishing! 

We’re booking guided trips for the 2022 season and our prime dates are going fast! A guided fishing trip is a great way to experience the Yellowstone River and our local area. Call the shop at 406.222.1673 or stop in to learn more and book your dates. We’re also getting more and more spring gear in almost every week - rods, reels, apparel, technical gear and much more! Come check it out!