6 December, 2023 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy December everyone. Things have been a bit quiet on the fishing report end for a bit, with a couple good reasons too. First, it’s late fall. We’re in that awkward phase before the really good winter fishing kicks off and after the bulk of the fall hatches have come and gone. Second, things have been BUSY around the shop. We had our annual Backcountry Film Festival (two nights this year!), the change of seasons and remerchandising of the store, and the busy Christmas season is right around the corner. Lots going on as we close out the year! 

The fishing of late has been characterized by two main things: it’s slow and it’s windy. Sure, you can still catch fish these days and have some really good days on the water, but you’ve got to work for it these days. Water temps are low, fish are sluggish, and there isn’t a lot hatching at the moment. Focus on the deeper, slower water and bring some weight. Keep adding it until you find fish or the bottom. 

The wind has been another key factor for anglers lately. It has been HOWLING. Sure, there are spots you can get out of it but if you aren’t after a couple mind clearing hours of being on the water the gale can make you rethink things. Be aware that you’ll be dealing with it on almost all of our local waters, and pack accordingly. 

This past week in the store Rob called this “low commitment season”. Meaning you can go out and hit the water with a low commitment, fish for a few hours or until you get tired of the wind, and come home without a worry in the world. During the summer it’s easy to talk yourself into the need to be out all day, or fish hard the entire time. Not so much this time of year. 

As far as reliable fishing goes, our go to options right now would be the spring creeks if you want to stick close to Livingston, the Missouri by Craig if you want to get the boat out, or the walk/wade section on the Upper Madison by Reynold’s Pass. If you can get a break in the wind you should be able to find midges around at all of those places, and likely not a lot of people. The spring creeks are all on their winter rates now, and a nice fire and warm lunch in a hut on Depuy’s is never a bad idea in the winter… 

If you do make it out, dress warmly and be careful out there. If you need the right gear to keep you warm, dry and comfortable stop in. We’ll make sure you get what you need. Or break out the vise and start working on the winter’s fly tying. There’s always lots to do! 

We know this time of year can be incredibly busy, hectic, and even stressful. If taking a couple hours to stand in a river helps with that, go for it. If you can’t make it out fishing with all the holiday activities and family in town, you’re not missing out on much. The important thing to keep in mind is that this is the slowest period of the literal entire year for fishing - but it will improve before long!

Stay tuned.