Wonderful news for the Yellowstone River (and many places around the state) this week as conditions have improved enough that Montana FWP lifted the Hoot Owl Restriction! Anglers can now legally fish all day long. There are still a few water rivers with closures and restrictions, and they can be found on the FWP website here.
The Yellowstone is still very low for this time of year, but water temps are much better than they have been. Glancing at the USGS waterdata site here, shows that the river has been in the low 60s all week. The recent rain events have forced a few days of off color water, but things have been fishable most of the week. How’s it look this weekend? Pretty darn good!
The cooler temps have put a damper on hopper fishing, but fish are still eating them well. Fishing is best on windy days, since this blows the bugs down into the river. Grassy banks and nearby ag fields are hot spots for them. Listen on the hot days for them, and see how many you kick up walking around the banks.
Have a variety of colors, profiles, and sizes of hoppers with you. Keep changing it up to see what’s working best and what they want on that particular day. It’s always a good idea to fish something off the back of a hopper. This covers two zones at once and the hopper makes a great strike indicator!
When fishing hoppers (or anything this time of year), don’t focus just on the banks. In low, warm water with lots of pressure the fish often get pushed to deeper water that is cooler and safer for them. Fishing the middle of the river can often yield good results!
Other rivers in the area have been fishing well. Hoot Owl Restrictions are off the Upper Madison, and that river can be worth the drive if you feel up for it. The Shields remains completely closed. The Boulder and Stillwater are both fishing well on hoppers and terrestrials. Small mountain streams and high country lakes are always a favorite of late summer! Yellowstone Park lifted its hoot owl fishing closure earlier this month and while we recommend not fishing the famous west side rivers of the Madison and Firehole, the northeast corner remains a great option.
Even though restrictions are lifting around the state, waters are still at near record lows and fish have had a long and stressful summer. Treat them with care and follow some common sense rules of thumb for fishing this time of year. We wrote a detailed blog post earlier this summer on the topic, read it here.
Need up to the minute info? Stop by the shop or give us a call at 406.222.1673. We’ve got the info and flies you need!