4 December, 2021 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy December everyone. If you’re like us, you’re wondering where 2021 has gone! It’s about time to enjoy the holidays with friends and family and start looking ahead to what next year can bring. 

The big news in our region this past week has been the equipment malfunction of Hebgen Dam which led to a dewatering of the Upper Madison River. This effected Between the Lakes most of all, but led to dry side channels and stranded fish from Quake Lake to Ennis. A massive volunteer effort led to many fish being placed back in the main channel where their chances of survival went way up, and Northwestern Energy was able to fix the dam and restore flows after a couple of days. 

It’s unknown what kind of long term effect this might have on the river, but we are trying to stay optimistic right now. Damaged redds are the most concerning thing - but warmer temps at least kept the eggs from freezing while they were exposed. Only time will tell. FWP had issued a fishing closure for the Upper Madison, which was lifted yesterday. 

Image courtesy of FOAM

Even though it’s legal, we are recommending anglers fish elsewhere. Those fish have had an incredibly tough year and taking any kind of pressure of them is a good thing. Fortunately, there are a lot of other places to fish this time of year. 

The Yellowstone River remains primarily a nymphing game. Be ready to deal with the wind, and if you can find a sheltered spot you’ll have a good day. There is hardly any pressure on the Yellowstone these days, so go enjoy it. If you want a higher percentage day, look into booking a rod at the local spring creeks. 

The Lower Madison has been fishing well, and is a great day trip option from the Livingston/Bozeman area. Look for midges as we ease into winter, or go fish streamers. Crawfish are a great option to anchor a double nymph rig. It’s a popular spot, but if you’re up for a walk take a hike up Bear Trap Canyon until you find open water. Again, be ready to deal with the wind over here! 

If you feel like a drive, head for the Missouri. It’s a great option this time of year and all winter long. Fish deep, fish slow, and enjoy the Mo without the summer crowds. The Gallatin is also a good bet, and fishing the canyon this time of year can be a beautiful experience. It’s primarily a nymphing game (as is just about everything this time of year), but go have fun. 

With Christmas coming up fast we’ve got everything you need for the angler in your life. Have them come in and fill out a gift registry slip so you know exactly what they want - you might as well too! Stop by the shop or give us a call at 406-222-1673 for the latest info.