27 January, 2023 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Well, in case you forgot, it’s still winter here in Montana. We’re getting a huge dump of snow both in town and up in the mountains this weekend. It’s much needed! Snowpack figures were starting to dip down into the 80s (high 80s but still) around the state, and we are excited to check them early next week once the storm has passed. 

As of this writing the snow is still coming down hard and will be until Saturday morning. If you’re traveling to recreate this weekend, please be super careful. This snow is heavy and wet, and roads are sheets of ice. Drive slow, be careful. If you’re headed anywhere in the mountains, check avalanche conditions before you go. MT Avalanche is the place. Lot of our local area is under an avalanche warning so this just might be the weekend to stay at home and tie flies. 

How is this going to impact fishing? It arguably makes my job easier, as I can condense things quite a bit. It’s going to get cold again, really cold. The high for Sunday keeps changing every time I check it, but currently it’s forecast at 0. The weather should warm back up to the mid 30s by mid/late week. 

However - with it getting that cold for a couple days, the rivers are going to get cold too. Expect lots of slush, additional shelf ice, and generally winter conditions across our local fisheries. Would we say go fish the Yellowstone River? Nope. You could probably do reasonably well on the Gallatin below Big Sky, below Quake Lake on the Upper Madison, and in Bear Trap on the Lower if you really feel the itch. 

If you do go out, we urge caution. Be mindful of floating slush and ice, especially as conditions warm later in the week. Even slush can knock you off your feet if it catches you off guard. Drifting ice is nothing to mess around with. 

Find the deepest, slowest water and get your flies down to the fish. If you have even the slightest inkling that the spot you’re fishing might be too fast, go find somewhere else. Get down deep. Bigger attractor nymphs with a midge off the back are a good option in these conditions. Mega Prince and Ice Cream Cones are a personal favorite. 

There is lots to do off the water in these kinds of conditions as well. Go skiing, sit at home and read a good book, tie some flies. Call up that friend you haven’t seen in a while and go catch up over a coffee or beer. Swing by the shop and tell us your favorite fish story. It’ll be warmer next week, and we’ll have a fresh report on Friday for you. 

In the meantime, our shop remains open every day of the week. We’ve got a plethora of options to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable no matter what pursuit you are enjoying. Our fly tying selection is very well stocked, and we can help you find the materials you need to fill some fly boxes. Want to try something new? Rent some cross country skis and go explore. 

Tight lines and stay warm this week!