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

Happy Friday and happy Fall! We made it through another week. After last weekend’s brush with weather that felt truly like fall, it’s back up in the 70s and 80s for a bit. While the afternoons still have that summer feeling, definitely bring a jacket if you’re out in the mornings or evenings. The briskness of fall is here to stay. 

Speaking of fall, has fall fishing started yet?? Yes and no. 

Flows on the Yellowstone have been hovering above record lows for the entire summer, and they are still far below normal at the moment. However, water temps have been much more reasonable - staying in the 50s for the most part over the past week. Get the current data on the USGS website here.

There are two things that really draw people to come fish Montana in the fall: big, aggressive brown trout and fall mayflies, primarily the BWO hatch. The browns spawn in the fall and get “hyperphagic” even more aggressive and mean than they normally are. (Keep an eye out for a much more detailed blog post coming soon about being careful during the brown trout spawn). This is the time of year when throwing big streamers can be the most effective. If you want to catch a truly giant brown trout, fall is the time to do it. 

The fall dry fly fishing can be stellar as well. The flies are generally smaller than their spring time counterparts, and the trout are more educated after a summer of fishing pressure. This only adds to the challenge. However, most of the fall hatches are water temp dependent and we just aren’t there yet. Stay tuned. 

Streamer fishing has been picking up. These bright, sunny, beautiful days we’re having are great to enjoy the beauty of Montana (how nice have these less smoky days been??) but cloudy conditions make for better streamer fishing. Bright days call for bright flies, darker days for darker flies. While this stretch of nice weather continues, concentrate your streamer fishing early and late in the day. 

We get asked a lot about streamer fishing and the gear you need for it. We’ll be covering this in much more detail later this fall, but the gist of it is this: can you fish streamers with your current set up? Odds are pretty good that yes, you can. However, you’re going to make things a lot more challenging if you don’t keep some guidelines in mind. Two of the biggest pieces of advice we have are don’t go overboard with steamer size on lighter rods, and bump up your tippet size. 

If you’re fishing a 9’ 5wt don’t reach for the double articulated 6” streamer with extra BBs for clacking action and heavy lead eyes. Opt for a single hook Sparkle Minnow, simple woolly bugger,  or something unweighted. Got a heavy 6wt or 7wt+, go for it. If you’ve ever wondered why on earth anyone would fish a 0x-2x leader in Montana, tie one on and find out this fall. Or just get a spool of 12lbs Maxima and tie on 4-5’ of that… 

As our previous reports have mentioned, the terrestrial bite is still out there even after the couple of frosts we’ve had at night. Is it as good as it was? Nope, but it’s still worth a shot in the middle of the day! Ants, beetles, hoppers. Try a small attractor or BWO emerger behind one of them if you’re feeling lucky. 

Otherwise not a lot has changed in the past week. We’re right on the cusp of some of the best fishing of the year and we will be soaking up the nice weather while we still can. Here at the shop we’re getting new fall clothing and gear every week so come get stocked up! For the most up to date information and conditions either give us a call at 406.222.1673 or stop in.