3 May, 2024 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy May, Everyone! It might not really feel that spring-y today with the snow and cold wind, but we’ll take every drop of moisture we can get. These spring snows up in the mountains are always welcome. 

The word on everyone’s lips is Mother’s Day Caddis - they are here! While the cooler weather has slowed the hatch a bit, it’s also helped clear the Yellowstone from muddy brown to a slightly better color. There’s a couple of feet of visibility right now, and hopefully that will be the case for much of this week. Conditions can change at any time and we are expecting them to shift quickly in the next week. 

Here’s what’s going on: 

Yellowstone River 

As mentioned earlier, the caddis are here. They were thick last week with warmer weather, and these cooler temps are going to slow down the adults a bit. If you aren’t seeing bugs on the water (which you certainly should be,) put on a pupa and an emerger and have at it. Swinging a pupa/emerger double up through the water column in the afternoon can be highly effective. If you’ve never swung a fly before, here’s how to do it. Cast quartering downstream, let the current take the slack in your line and carry it down and across. This will lift your flies through the water column and imitate insects moving to the surface to hatch. 

Caddis pupa, green copper johns, green lightning bugs, and prince nymphs are a good bet for a point fly behind something larger that can be seen in the murk, such as a rubberlegs or small dead-drifted streamer. Anything “caddis-y” will work for a smaller fly. Streamers are a good choice with the water colored up. Pound the banks and keep changing strip cadence, colors and profiles until you find what they’re eating.

Conditions are going to change quickly, stay tuned to our social media for updates. 

Madison River 

Mother’s Day Caddis are thick on the Lower Madison River. This hatch is as well known on the Lower as on the Yellowstone, but the Lower Madison has the advantage of being a tailwater that stays clear all runoff-long. When the Yellowstone gets too muddy to fish, this is a great option to scratch the caddis itch. 

Warm Springs to Black’s Ford is going to be reasonably busy with boat traffic for the foreseeable future, and if you’re after solitude either head below Greyclliff or way up Bear Trap. Walk far enough and you’ll find some river to yourself. The same advice as on the Yellowstone applies here as well - think caddis. 

The Upper Madison River is fishing well, but is getting some color from the West Fork. Nothing unmanageable yet by any means, but something to be aware of. Be mindful of redds in gravelly areas, and keep an eye out for BWOs, caddis, and March Browns. Spring is a great time of year to be on the Upper Madison and there are a ton of options. 

Gallatin River 

Spring conditions exist on the Gallatin River right now. We’re seeing some dirty water from the Taylor’s Fork and elsewhere, but it’s still plenty fishable. The canyon is fishing alright with late midges, BWOs, and some March browns, and you might find some caddis further downstream in the valley. 

We’re just playing a waiting game until it blows out with runoff, and honestly there are better fishing options right now. The Gallatin isn’t a terrible choice, and the scenery is hard to beat, but if you want some really good fishing, head for the Yellowstone or Madison. 

Paradise Valley Spring Creeks 

The spring creeks are all fishing quite well and you can find the usual spring suspects here: BWOs, midges, March browns, caddis…take your pick. The rod fees have all come up off their winter lows but haven’t hit summer highs yet. If you can make it, it’s worth it. Bring your patience and prepare to be humbled. Enjoy the challenge! 

Livingston and the Shop 

We’re all taking that deep breath before the crazy busy season of summer, but things are starting to pick up in Livingston and around the area. With most of the roads in Yellowstone Park being open we’re seeing more traffic and things are getting busier on the whole. The shop is still getting in new apparel, gear, and other cool stuff almost every week. We’re your one-stop shop for everything Hike, Bike, Ski and Fish! 

Our guided trip books are filling in fast and if you want to get out with a talented and knowledgeable guide this year, don’t wait! Give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer any questions and help as much as we can. 

Stop by and tell us a fish story, we’d love to hear it. Tight lines this week!