30 September, 2022 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

As they all have lately (is that just me?), September has really flown by. Holy cow. With October knocking at the door, fishing is about to get good. I know we’ve been saying that for a while, but it’s true. Fall in Montana is awesome. 

Fall is also a season of spawning. We’ve got several species of fish that spawn in the fall in our local rivers and we are getting to the time of year when you start seeing redds and spawning fish. Word of advice for the overall health of the fish, fishery, and future populations - LEAVE THEM ALONE. Don’t fish over redds, don’t fish behind redds, don’t walk through redds. Just leave them be to do their thing. Watch your step and leave them all alone.

This applies to all our rivers. Help keep the fishery healthy and thriving for years to come. 

Yellowstone River 

Trees are starting to really turn and it’s starting to look like fall here in Southwest Montana. We’ve had some very warm days for the season lately and late summer seasons are persisting. With the cooler nights water temps are staying manageable, but haven’t quite dipped enough for our fall hatches to really kick in. 

Hoppers are still working really well. There are still lots of them and we just haven’t had the prolonged chilly weather necessary to end their season. Other terrestrials are still very much in play as well. Don’t overlook ants, beetles and attractors. We’re starting to see a few mayflies out and about, but they haven’t really started yet. 

Fishing subsurface is outperforming dry flies hands down. Perdigons, hare’s ears, prince nymphs, large stonefly patterns, and dead drifted streamers will catch more fish than hoppers, chubbies, and attractors. Fish the structure, change your depth until you find the fish. If you’re fishing a streamer under an indicator, don’t be afraid of a little drag here and there. Adds some movement to the fly, and lends a more lifelike action. 

Be aware that Mayor’s Landing to Sheep Mountain remains closed. 

Madison River 

Both the Upper and Lower Madison Rivers are fishing well. Some big fish are starting to get caught, and things are just going to continue to get better. Like the Yellowstone River it’s still a bit early for the bulk of the fall hatches but we are starting to see a few of the fall mayflies show up. Hoppers and terrestrials are game on though. 

The Madison River is famous as a fall streamer fishery. Lots of truly large fish get caught on the Madison every fall and if you dedicate yourself to it, it will pay off. Break out the bigger rods, sink tips, and big flies. Have a box full of sizes, colors, and profiles on hand. Keep changing it up until you find what works. 

Fall on the Madison draws anglers from around the world. Come see why for yourself. 

Gallatin River 

The Gallatin River Canyon is pretty spectacular as the fall colors set in. It’s a sight to behold and well worth the drive. The fall fishing on the Gallatin doesn’t get as much press as elsewhere in the state, since the fish don’t get quite as large. But don’t sleep on it, it can be a lot of fun. 

Hoppers are still working, especially down in the valley stretch of the river. The Gallatin isn’t really known for any particular fall hatch, but they do get a decent amount of the usual suspects this time of year. It’s still a bit early, but fishing a parachute adams or purple haze is never a bad idea this time of year. Generic attractors should be in the box as well. 

Like everywhere else, fishing subsurface is a better bet than on top. You’ll almost always catch more fish nymphing than with dry flies. Learn to nymph well and you’ll do very well. 

Other Waters 

The report reads about the same for most of the other waters in the state. We are right on the cusp of fall fishing. If you’re a dry fly purist, head for the Missouri River here soon. All our lesser known water in the region like the Jefferson River, Boulder River, Stillwater River, and countless other smaller rivers and creeks are about to turn on for the fall.There is a ton of great water available in this part of the state, primed for great fishing. Go check it out. 

One awesome fall option here locally is our spring creeks. There are three available within a 20 minute drive of Livingston, and most of them are already on discounted fall rates. These private spring creeks do require a rod fee and a reservation. They are some of the most technical and difficult waters in the entire state, but that just makes it that much more fun. 

Small waters are still fishing well, as is the high country. The window of opportunity is closing though. Make the most of the time we have left! 

Livingston and the Store 

Fall is coming in fast around here. The Farmer’s Markets are done, a lot of our outdoor events are winding down, and the traffic is noticeably slowing down. This is always a time of year to reflect, get a deep breath, and catch up after a busy summer before the busy winter season. There’s still lots of time to hike, bike and camp before then though! 

Our shop still has some deals going across a lot of categories after our big sale last week, and we are slowly getting our new fall apparel and gear out. Stop by for the latest info, great customer service, and the flies and gear you need. 

Tight lines this week!