24 December, 2021 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! Fishing has been on the back burner for many as the holidays approach. This time of year is always busy with friends and family, events, shopping, and just the general hectic-ness of the world today. It’s always enjoyable, but remember to set some time aside to soak in the season.

One of the best ways to do that? Get outside. 

Not a whole lot is happening on the Yellowstone River these days. Shelf ice is beginning to form in spots and on these colder nights you can expect some slush in the river. The biggest challenge is the wind though. This December has been windier than normal, which around here is saying something. 

There is some snow in the forecast for the coming days (could we get lucky with a white Christmas this year?) which is always a good thing. We will take any snow we can get at this point. The Snotel map is looking a little dry these days, and after last year we're all praying for snow. 

If you really want to get out, book a day on local spring creek. The winter fishing is pretty good there, and you can find some sheltered spots to get out of the wind. These are pay to play fisheries with limited access per day, but they’re well worth it to break up the winter monotony. 

We are still advising anglers to avoid fishing the Upper Madison, even though FWP lifted their closure on the river. Those fish need some time to recover and there are plenty of other spots to explore this time of year. The Lower Madison is a great winter fishery, and close enough to town to enjoy a quick outing without making it an all day excursion. The Gallatin, especially in the canyon, is a great spot from now through spring. 

This is the season of short trips to the river, icy guides, cold feet, and the prospect of a greasy burger at your favorite watering hole after the trip. With the winter midge hatch still on the horizon, there just isn’t a whole lot going on. You can absolutely still get fish to eat, but temper your expectations. Fish deep, slow water where the fish don’t have to expend much energy to hold. If you’re fishing streamers, fish them on the slow swing or dead drifted under a bobber. 

Not feeling up to fighting the wind for a few hours? How about sitting down and filling fly boxes for next year? Winter is historically the time of the fly tyer and as the wind howls outside in the dark at 4:30pm, might as well think ahead to wet wading and being able to see your dry fly at 9 at night. Our fly tying selection is well stocked with everything you’ll need! 

We’ll be open 9am to 4pm today (Christmas Eve) and closed on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at Dan Bailey’s!