29 April, 2022 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy Friday, folks. It feels like a real Montana spring day out there today! This cooler weather has been great. What’s even better is the fact that our snowpack numbers are still climbing! This morning the Upper Yellowstone drainage was listed at 94% of normal. These numbers are looking drastically better than even a couple of weeks ago. Fingers crossed it keeps coming!

This weather is much more “normal” for historical Montana springs. These cloudy, cool, rainy days can produce some of the best fishing of the entire year. Another bonus of spring fishing? There’s not as many people out. You can often have stretches of river all to yourself. With the busy tourist season fast approaching, enjoy that while you can. 

The Yellowstone River has been producing some very nice fish over the past week. Large trout are getting more active as the water slowly warms up. They’re eating streamers, nymphs and even dries when the conditions are right. Those who enjoy streamer fishing are getting happier by the day - strip it, swing it, or dead drift it. Keep changing your profile, size, and color until they eat. With the dark and gloomy weather the next few days, look to black and olive as your primary colors, but don’t be afraid of a gold Kreelex.

Nymphing has been the most consistent method of producing fish. Dead drifted streamers, larger stonefly patterns, bigger jig patterns, and even a larger hare’s ear would make a good point fly. These larger patterns will help you wade through the whitefish if you’re just after trout. Put a dropper about a foot to a foot and a half behind that and use BWO nymphs, lightning bugs, perdigons, and your standard Yellowstone patterns. Mind your drift and keep adding weight until you’re finding the fish. 


The dry fly fishing has been picking up. It can be a challenge to find a spot where the bugs aren’t getting blow away on the Yellowstone most days! Spring is a windy season here in Livingston and in Paradise Valley, so be ready for that. Swinging soft hackles can be a more effective method in targeting the BWO hatch during windy days. Have some dries around and watch for the BWO hatch to be best on cloudy days around midday. 

Our other regional waters are in about the same shape as last week. FIshing is improving, rainbows are still spawning, and the Upper Madison is still running pretty damn low. If you’re after a dry fly only day, head for the Missouri or somewhere on the upper Upper Madison (watch your step and leave redds alone). The Gallatin and Lower Madison are both fishing pretty well, and both are good options for shorter outings if you don’t feel like dealing with road construction on the pass and 89. 

It’s just a good time to be on the water in Montana! If you need gear, flies, apparel or new waders/boots, stop by the store and see what we’ve got in stock. Our fly fishing department has been getting new things every week with lots of favorites in all categories. Even if you don’t need anything, stop in and tell us a fishing story! 

See you on the water.