6 February, 2023 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing
Well that was quite the swing of weather! We went from -50s windchill to over 50 degrees in the span of a few days. It’s been an unusual winter around here for sure. As we move into a warmer weather pattern opportunities for fishing are getting better. First, a look at snowpack.
The snow we received in this last storm certainly helped bump numbers up. They are hovering right around normal levels, which is great. A look at the northwest corner of Wyoming brings good news as well. While we’re still below 100% of average, we’ll take the high 90s! We still have a lot of winter ahead of us, so fingers crossed we’ll get a lot more moisture rich snow before next summer.
It’s been a windy week on the Yellowstone River (shocked? Neither are we) but there are still places you can get out and find some fish. Be mindful of both shelf ice and floating chunks. If you’re planning on getting the boat out, be sure to scout ramps and floats to make sure they’re passable.
This is the time of year when you can find some pretty decent midge hatches if conditions line up right. Out here on the Yellowstone you’re looking for warmer days that are a bit less windy. Ha! Look for the sheltered spots and have some dries in the box. Emergers in the surface film or swung downstream could be a great option around midday.
Otherwise, find the deep and slow water and fish deep. Larger, attractor nymphs with a midge nymph behind it can produce. Rainbow warriors, zebra midges etc. Think small and put it about a foot and a half behind the point fly. If you aren’t snagging bottom now and then you aren’t deep enough.
Water temps are too cold to get fish really chasing streamers, but swinging them can be a good idea on these warmer days. Might help you beat the wind too. If you insist on fishing streamers, putting them underneath a bobber with a midge behind it is the way to go.
The Lower Madison River is a great place this time of year. Especially as it warms up, there are plenty of opportunities for getting the boat out or wade fishing. We would caution against floating below Black’s Ford, but Warm to Black’s is just long enough to satiate the winter fishing itch, and this time of year you won’t encounter the dreaded tuber hatch.
For walk wade folks, a stroll up Bear Trap Canyon is worth the time. On warmer, sunny days expect it to become quite crowded. However, if you walk far enough you can find some quiet water. If you’re after some dry fly fishing, the rock gardens you will encounter are excellent places to head hunt.
The Upper Madison is a bit icy and jammed up these days. You can find open water and good fishing higher up the river, but anything around Ennis we would wait a few weeks at least for. Look for midges around Reynold’s Pass and Three Dollar in that mid day window. Rubber legs with a midge behind it is always worth a shot up there.
Expect the Gallatin River to be a bit icy up in the canyon this coming week. While the cold cold has passed, the river hasn’t had a chance to really warm up and thaw. As always, the water below Big Sky to the canyon mouth will be pretty ice free due to the Big Sky runoff. If you’re fishing in the canyon, there is a lot of access, and just find the deepest and slowest water you can.
Down in the valley you can find some decent spots, but beware of ice jammed up down lower on the river. If you’re fishing down here expect to walk a ways from the access.
If you’re after a real fishing experience and not just a chance to get out of the house for a few hours, the Paradise Valley spring creeks are where it’s at. Take advantage of the reduced winter rates and get out on some of the most storied waters in the state. Their constant flow and water temp is the ideal winter fishing conditions.
This is very technical fishing, so prepare to be humbled. You can also have some of the very best fishing of the year if you play it right..
Livingston and the Shop
February is generally a pretty quiet time around Livingston, but there is still lots to do! You can find live music, events, great food and drink, and plenty of places to ski, snowshoe, fish - even just walk around and enjoy the scenery.
Here at the shop we have all the gear you need to stay warm, dry, and comfortable in your outdoor pursuits. If you aren’t into skiing, come find the materials you need to tie some flies and fill some boxes. There’s also no time like the present to start planning your 2023 fishing adventures.
Tight lines this week!