7 August, 2023 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Are we sure it’s still August and not September? What a nice cooldown we’ve had over the last few days. Looking at the forecast it should continue for a few days as well. The moisture we’ve had is making an impact on some of our local waterways, but there’s lots of good fishing to be had. 

This reprieve in temps is certainly much welcome for all, including the fish. Water temps on many of our rivers have dropped with these weather. Even still, we recommend fishing early and late, not in the peak of the day. Fight your fish quickly, keep them in the water, and release them as fast as you can. 

Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone has seen a pretty impressive jump in flows over the last few days. The moisture pushed a bit of mud into the river, reducing visibility and impacting fishing. It’s clearing up now, and water temps have dipped down as well. WIth highs in the 70s for a few days, we can expect temps to stay reasonable for a while. 

August is an interesting month - a lot of the big name hatches are over, and fall fishing is still on the horizon. You can still find caddis in the afternoons, and they can offer some great dry fly fishing. Hoppers, terrestrials, and attractors are the name of the game these days. It’s shaping up to be a solid hopper year, and we’ve heard many reports of fish chowing these patterns. The great thing about hopper flies is that they are large and buoyant enough to support a pretty good size dropper. Rubberlegs, caddis pupa, attractor nymphs are all good choices. Something like a drowned ant might be a really solid choice too… 

Another option in this brief interlude of cloudy and cool is streamers. Typically overlooked during the bright days of mid summer, tossing a streamer when there’s cloud cover might just be the thing to find that trout of a lifetime. 

Madison River 

The Upper Madison is fishing well right now. Same story as the Yellowstone - the cooler temps and cloudy days are helping, look for caddis in the afternoon, be ready to face crowds at the boat ramps. Hoppers are out in force, especially along the grassy banks of ag fields mid valley. Bring a wide selection of colors, patterns, and profiles to work through to find what works best. 

The best days of the year are still to come on the Upper Madison, but right now is a pretty solid time to be here too. At this time we aren’t recommending the Lower Madison at all, due to Hoot Owl Restrictions, recreational floating traffic, and warm water temps. 

Gallatin River 

It feels like late summer on the Gallatin, but like everywhere else this cooler weather is much appreciated. The river below Gallatin Gateway has been struggling with warmer water temps and agriculture draws, so we’re recommending above that. The river below Big Sky through the canyon is experiencing some algae growth, so be ready for that. Above Big Sky flows get pretty skinny, but crowds are less and there’s still plenty of places to access the river. If you’ve got a Yellowstone Park fishing permit, the park stretch of the Gallatin is a lot of fun this time of year. 

Spruce Moths are still out, as are afternoon caddis and lots of terrestrials. If you want to fish dries all day, you can certainly find a way to do it here. With flows at summer levels there isn’t much cause for heavy nymphing, but dropping something behind a chubby or hopper pattern can be a great idea. 

Yellowstone National Park 

The NE corner continues to shine. There is a lot of water in Yellowstone National Park, and late summer can be a great time to fish it. Caddis are still out, but the main focus now is terrestrials. Places like Slough Creek and the Lamar can be super productive with hopper and ant patterns. 

As with everywhere around here, carry bear spray and know how to use it. Us anglers are especially prone to being in places and at times when bears might be the most active. Keep your head on a swivel, make your presence known, and enjoy your day of fishing. 

Livingston and the Shop 

Dan Bailey’s is your one-stop-shop for all your outdoor activities in SW Montana this summer. Our fully stocked fly shop can get you outfitted with the gear and flies you need, as well as the knowledge on where to go. We’ve got everything for biking, hiking, fishing, camping, and much more. 

Our lovely town and backyard area have so much to offer everyone this time of year. Live music, farmer’s markets, beautiful scenery, great food and drink, and so much more. Come see for yourself!