Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report
Spring, is that you?
It sure feels like it the last week or so around here. It’s good to see grass greening up and buds on trees and flowers growing. We’re so close! Spring is one of those nebulous seasons where anything can happen and the weather keeps flipflopping. Like they say, if you don’t like the weather in Montana just wait five minutes.
Spring fishing is kicking off in Southwest Montana! Water temps are rising, bugs are hatching, and everyone is itching to get their boats in the water after winter. The Yellowstone River has been consistently picking up. Ice jams are a worry of the past, and all the boat ramps are clear and operating. The river has a bit of color in it lately after some warm days that have pushed some snowmelt out, but it’s plenty clear for fishing.
On calmer (ha!) days, you can still find some midges here and there and we’re getting reports of the first of the Blue Wing Olives showing up. These are the first mayflies of the season, and can provide some excellent dry fly fishing. As the water continues to warm the hatch will intensify over the course of the month. Fish are getting more aggressive, so active streamer tactics are working well. Fish are hungry! Nymphing has been productive with jig head flies, pheasant tails, small lightning bugs and other mayfly patterns fished behind a larger attractor like a stonefly or dead drifted nymph.
Fishing activity across the state is picking up. The pre-runoff spring fishing can be some of the best of the year. Please be mindful of spawning rainbow trout redds this time of year. Avoid wading in gravelly areas, and if you do find fish on a redd: LEAVE THEM ALONE. Don’t fish them, don’t “target the egg eating browns behind them”, just leave them alone to do their thing. Keep an eye out and watch your step.
Also of note recently - Northwestern Energy is limiting flows out of Hebgen Dam on the Upper Madison in an effort to conserve water for the summer months. The Upper Madison is very low right now. The upper stretches around Reynolds Pass are extremely low. A lot of spawning channels have been completely cut off by this move, and any existing eggs that survived the dewatering event a few months ago are at risk. That’s all we’ll say about it now, but something to keep an eye on and be aware of.
Our shop is getting all our spring and early summer gear and apparel in stock and now is a great time to review your gear and fill any holes. We’ve got the new Sage R8 rods in 4-7 wts, come cast one for yourself and see what all the fuss is about! For up to date information and the flies and gear you need, stop in and say hello or give us a call at 406.222.1673. See you on the water!