7 December, 2022 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Well, we got dumped on again. This has been the snowiest November/early December we have had in a long time, and it’s AWESOME. Bring it on. While we have a long way to go to get out of the region-wide drought we are in, we are in a great spot at this point in the season. Ski resorts are opening up early, our ski rental program is open early, and we are stoked for the coming winter. Check out our latest snowpack figures: 

What does this mean for fly fishing? Well, it keeps this report pretty simple. 

Yellowstone River 

It’s cold. And slushy. And windy. Honestly? Stay inside and tie flies. Get your Christmas shopping done at a local business, go have a nice dinner out or get a good local beer and swap fishing stories. 

If you’re absolutely desperate to get out on the water, hit the spring creeks.

Madison River 

The Upper Madison River is getting pretty icy as well these days, but there are still fishable spots. Reynold’s Pass and Three Dollar area are consistently good winter fisheries. Be sure to check how iced in boat ramps are before you put in if you are floating. 

The Lower Madison is getting some ice and slush as well, but remains a good winter option for close to home. Hiking up Bear Trap Canyon can provide some good opportunities, especially for winter midges. Crayfish patterns with a midge dropper (Zebra Midge, Rainbow Warrior, etc) can be deadly. Find the deep and slow water, and keep adding weight until you find the fish. Remember that their energy drops with the water temps.

Gallatin River

The Gallatin River in the canyon below Big Sky is always a popular spot for winter fishing. It stays reasonably ice free, unlike the river above Big Sky or down in the valley. With temps going warm to cold to warm again, be super careful about ice jams. Every winter the Gallatin gets a few that can be very dangerous if you aren’t paying attention. 

Fish the deep and slow water with attractor nymphs and midges. Lightning bugs or Copper Johns with a midge behind them are a good bet. On warmer days look for fish eating midges on top. 

Spring Creeks 

The Paradise Valley spring creeks are the best winter fishing spot we have locally. With consistent water temp and flow, they provide an ice free option when everything else is locked up. Fishing this time of year can be very technical, bring your A-Game and a fully stocked midge box. 

These are a pay-to-play fishery, but rod fees are quite a bit less in the winter than their summer season. Unlike the busy peak season, you can usually get day-of reservations.

Livingston and the shop 

Christmas season is in full swing here in Downtown Livingston. The decorations are up, the lights are on, and it’s a great time to get ahead on your shopping. There are a host of events happening between now and the end of the year all across town. Here at Dan Bailey’s we have our Ladies’ Night and Men’s Night coming up. Ladies’ Night is this Thursday from 3-8pm, with Men’s Night on the 15th from 3-8pm. 

At both events, the entire store will be 10% off and you can save another 5% off anything that is on your gift registry.(Fly Fishing goods will not be 10% off. Maybe we word it, “Most of the store will be 10% off”? There will be games to save even more and a warm fire with snacks and libations provided out back. It’s always a good time and one of our favorite events of the year! 

We’ve got a store full of great items for gifts or for yourself. Come check it out, and if you are headed out to fish we’ve got everything you need to catch fish and stay warm and comfortable while you’re doing it. It’s fly tying season for those who don’t want to deal with ice in the guides, and we’ve got a full stock of materials for all your favorite patterns. 

Tight lines this week!