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

Happy Saturday folks, we made it another week. Spring is in full swing here in Livingston, with flowers blooming and leaves on the trees. We’re seeing more green than brown around town and the arrival of spring is a great breath of fresh air after that very, very long winter. 

Spring is also bringing runoff, as it always does. We’re all a bit jumpy after this past year’s floods but we’ve got a longggggg way to go before that’s an issue. We’ve had some very warm days this past week which has spurred a lot of the mud currently in our rivers. Will the cooler weather this weekend and into next week give us a little window on the Yellowstone?? Read on to find out! 

Yellowstone River 

This time of year keeps the report pretty easy on the Yellowstone River: muddy. Visibility has been measured in single digit inches and flows have been steadily increasing over the past week or so. However - flows dipped this morning and looking at the forecast, we just might get a window of opportunity to get back on the river before runoff really gets cooking. 

While it’s too early to say if this is going to happen or not on this venue, keep an eye on our social media. 

Madison River 

While some of the tributaries on the Madison River are pumping some dirty water into the river, there is still plenty of visibility and fishing is pretty darn good. The Upper Madison might see some hatches of BWOs, midges, and even March Browns over this coming week so if you’re after dry fly action this is the spot. 

As the Madison gets muddier over the spring, it might be time to break out the worm box. San Juan worms, wire worms, and the like can be highly effective as the water rises. Be sure to pinch your barbs and use as small a hook as you can get away with. Fishing it behind a bigger point fly like a rubberlegs or dead drifted wooly bugger is a great idea. 

The Lower Madison is on everyone’s minds because of one thing: Mother’s Day Caddis. While the Yellowstone’s hatch is probably out for the year, it’s game on here soon for the Lower. We are all waiting with bated breath for reports that the hatch is in full swing, stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, fishing is definitely picking up. 

Fishing a caddis pupa behind a crayfish, or a double pupa rig through the buckets would be an awesome idea. Keep a few dries in the box just in case, and be sure to go armed with some BWOs and March Browns as well. The Lower is going to be pretty busy, especially on weekends. As a tailwater it stays a lot more clear than our local freestones and when they muddy up, it pushes traffic to the clear water.

Be patient with people, walk a bit further or get up a little earlier than everyone else, and you’ll have a good day. 

Gallatin River 

The Gallatin River has basically the same report as the Yellowstone these days: rising water and dropping clarity. It looks like flows are on their way down today, and time will tell if we get a window of opportunity but for now? nope . 

Paradise Valley Spring Creeks 

The spring creeks are still a fantastic option. They’re entering the busy season so book your dates as early as you can. For dry fly purists this is the spot for spring midges, BWOs, March Browns and Caddis. Bring light rods, long leaders and plenty of patience. 

Livingston and the Shop 

You can tell tourist season is ramping up! Town is getting busier and we are thrilled to see you all here. If you have a trip coming up this summer, now is the time to be making plans and booking things. It’s going to be a busy summer. 

We’ve got everything you need to explore and enjoy Montana’s fisheries in our store, located right on Park St in historic downtown Livingston. You can't miss us! We’ve got new rods from Winston, Sage, Burkheimer, Echo, Orvis and more as well as flies for every hatch and situation. Need to stay warm, dry and comfortable? We’ve got you. 

If you’re wanting to learn to cast a fly rod this year or need a little brush up on your skills, check out our beginner and intermediate casting classes! Call the shop or stop in for more details. If you’re out fishing this week, we’d love to hear about it. 

Tight lines this week!