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

Happy Monday everyone. We hope you all had a good weekend and were able to get outside! Even with the cold snap we had late last week there is still lots to do out and about. Hiking is improving, biking trails are opening up, and with that cold weather the Yellowstone River has dropped back down and cleared up a bit. Fishing this week? You bet. 

First, some good news. Above is the snowpack map for Montana. It hasn’t looked this good in a long time. Keep in mind that these figures are against average, which this time of year is dropping steadily. However, we’re still in really good shape. A lot of the lower and mid-level snow is gone, but the high-level snowpack is still there. 

It all depends on how it comes out now. If our pattern of cooler weather continues and the snow melts nice and slow we’re golden. If we get a week of 80s and it all melts at once, that’s a different story. Stay tuned! 

The Yellowstone River hit a high of almost 10,000 cfs last week, and has since come back down to about half of that as of this writing. That cold snap helped, and we can get another fishable window before runoff really kicks in. Clarity is over a foot and water temps are coming back up. These kind of conditions can make for challenging fishing, but with the right flies and tactics you can find fish. 

You might see a few caddis here and there, but the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch has come and gone. Maybe next year the river will cooperate a bit more and we can have a longer window to fish it. You can still find BWOs on calmer, cloudy days and even some midges still hanging around. If you’re after fish on top, you can find them. Nymphing and streamer fishing are going to be more consistent and productive. 

As river flows across the region increase over the coming weeks, think big and heavy when choosing a fly. Weighted rubber legs, mega princes, and other large stonefly patterns make a great point fly to get down to the fish’s level. A dead drifted streamer can be an excellent choice under an indicator. Darker colors for darker water and cloudy weather, and brighter, flashier patterns for brighter days.  

Fishing streamers has been producing some larger fish. Change your retrieve cadence and depth until you find what they’re chasing. Advice above about dark and bright days applies here too. If you’re getting follows but no eats, change the profile or size of your fly and try again. A sink tip or heavy fly can help you get down to the depth you need in these bigger flows. If you’ve got a trout spey set up, swinging flies can be a great option in these conditions too. If that trout spey is light enough, don’t overlook the power of swinging soft hackles… 

Our guided trip calendar is starting to really fill up for the summer season, so book your dates early! The summer water season is looking better and better and we are excited about a good year of fishing on the Yellowstone. Give us a call at 406.222.1673 to ask about our guide trips and book your dates. 

Stop by the shop for the latest info, flies, gear, and everything you need to enjoy your time on the water. Tight lines!