6 January, 2024 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

The year is just starting and we’re still waiting for our winter to really begin! With the lack of snow at all levels, many of us are wondering what to do with our free time instead of skiing. While the ski hills are open for the most part and there are a few places to go cross country skiing, the rivers beckon. Typically early January is still a bit early for our prime winter fishing but this year is a different story. 

First off, let’s talk snowpack. If you check the Snotel Map things don’t look great. If you just look outside and look at the mountains, things don’t look great either. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s still quite early in the year. There is a lot of winter left and this wouldn’t be the first year that things have started off warmer than normal with the bulk of our snow coming later in the season. Keep your fingers crossed and pray for snow! 

The longer term forecast is gearing a little colder going forward, which is great to see. There is even a few days of snow in the forecast for next week! We’ll take every little bit of snow we can get.

What does this mean to you as an angler? Well, for one thing - keep it simple. These aren’t the days to go hard and plan to fish all day long every single day. If you want to you sure can, but the slower fishing and colder water makes this a season of lower commitment and lower expectations. 

Another factor that is important to consider for fishing this time of year is the sun. Not only are we not getting a ton of daylight every day (but at least it’s increasing!), but the angle of the sun isn’t very good for fishing. As we move deeper into winter the angle will adjust and the fishing will improve. This deep winter light simply isn’t great for fishing. 

While there are of course options for you to get out - Below Quake Lake on the Upper Madison, Bear Trap Canyon, and the Gallatin canyon are all popular winter options - over here right out of Livingston our choices are more narrowed. The Yellowstone River has fewer spots that are all that great for winter wade fishing. However, we do have the spring creeks just out of town. 

The spring creeks are a winter angler’s wonderland. Constant flow and water temps keep the fish active, and picky fish eating tiny midges can keep anyone entertained all day. These pay-to-play options lower their rod fees during the winter months, making it an affordable option for a day of fishing. 

Another great option this time of year is to stay home, tie flies, and start planning next year’s fishing trips. Those boxes won’t fill themselves! We’ve got a great selection of fly tying material, tools, and vises that’s growing every year. 

If you want to get into the great sport of fly tying, we’ve got a beginner’s class coming up in February. This four-session class costs $100, includes all materials and tools, and will teach the basics of tying in a way that will get you on your feet and busy tying. 

On January 22nd, we’re hosting a free fly tying demo from Matt Wilhelm from 6-8pm. Bring your vise and tie along, or just swing by and watch for a bit. This is the first in a series, and we’re looking forward to fostering the fly tying community here in Livingston more this winter. This event will be a great time to hang out, learn something, ask questions, share fishing stories and get out of the house. 

Overall, this is a time of year to pray for snow, hunker down, and look ahead. If you’re feeling the itch to get out there are certainly options, but there’s absolutely zero pressure to take it more seriously than you want to. 

Tight lines this week!