9 April, 2023 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy Easter Weekend everyone! We hope everyone has a great holiday weekend and enjoys the time with family. We’ve finally gotten out of our wintery pattern and things are feeling a bit more springy! Walking around town, you can even see tulips and spring flowers trying hard to poke through and buds are starting to swell on trees and bushes. Won’t be long now! 

Our snowpack is still holding VERY well. Our figures for the region around here are all well above average and we are all waiting to see how it comes out. The higher temps forecast for early next week are prompting some concerns about flooding, we shall see what shakes out. 

How’s fishing? Picking up! Here’s what is going on: 

Yellowstone River 

**UPDATE Monday 4/10** The river is muddy through the valley and will be getting dirtier lower as the Gardiner and other tribs continue to pump mud out as things melt. The Shields is also dumping muddy water into the river. Stay tuned to our social for more. 

The Yellowstone has been really picking up and we are seeing some very nice fish coming out. With water temps slowly coming up the fish are getting a lot more active, and their menu is increasing. We’ve heard reports that Baetis are out in good numbers on the cloudy and warmer days, which is awesome. You can still find midges as well, but after a winter of fishing them it’s nice to see some mayflies around! 

Baetis nymphs and midge nymphs are the droppers of choice, but be sure to hang them behind something larger. Dead drifted streamers and Zurdle Bugs make a great choice. We are expecting the clarity to go down in the coming days with the warmer weather and some melting snow, so having something that stands out in the murk is imperative. The wind has been blowing pretty darn stiffly on these warmer days, but finding the quiet places is worth the effort. 

Madison River 

Spring is a great time on the Madison River. Things are really picking up on the Upper Madison. The dry fly fishing has been getting better, with the walk wade section up high offering lots of action. If you are floating, be sure to check to make sure that boat ramps are clear of ice and snow. Keep a rod rigged for BWOs and midges, and a nymph rig with a big prince, rubberlegs or wooly bugger with a baetis nymph behind it. 

The Lower Madison is entering one of its best times of the year. Spring is when the fish start getting active and are hungry and feisty, and before the water temps get too high and the “tube hatch” starts. Warm Springs to Black’s Ford is an awesome quick float, and can be stretched out to a full day if needed. Walking up Bear Trap can yield some really good water if you don’t mind walking. The trail is very popular and quite busy, so be patient and kind with all. 

Gallatin River 

The Gallatin River down in the valley is still a bit of an icy mess, and there is good potential for flooding down low as stuff warms up and starts melting. Fishing in the valley can be good as things warm up, just be careful and aware of your surroundings and what you’re getting into. 

The Canyon is still fishing reasonably well below Big Sky, and is a lot of fun. With the end of the season at Big Sky in sight, we expect more people will be headed up that way instead of fishing the Gallatin, so you might have some peace and quiet. Fish the deep and slow water, as water temps haven’t started bouncing back yet. Double nymph rigs with a bigger point fly like a Prince, Hare’s Ear or smaller rubberlegs with a Zebra Midge or Rainbow Warrior behind it. 

Spring Creeks 

Spring rates on the spring creeks take effect April 15th, so get in the last of the cheaper winter rates while you can! Even though spring rates are bumped up from the cheap winter rates, it is discounted from peak season and the fishing has been really good. We’re hearing reports of good midges still midday, and BWOs are out in force if the wind isn’t blowing. Cloudy days are best for dry fly anglers, and even though it’s early season the fish are ALWAYS picky. Bring fine tippet, small flies, and lots of patience. If you’ve wanted to go dry fly only for big, picky trout in Montana, here is your chance. 

Livingston and The Shop 

It’s a great time of year in Livingston! We’re melting out and things are coming back to life. It seems like things are slowly getting busier around here, though we are a long ways from peak summer traffic. All through town and our region there is live music, good food, local beer, and great local businesses who need and appreciate your patronage. 

We are still getting in new spring and seasonal apparel and gear almost every day, and we have what you need to stay warm, dry, comfortable, and successful no matter what you are doing in the outdoors. Now is a great time of year to be planning your trip to Montana and if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to reach out! Our staff is here to help and we always enjoy talking trip plans. 

If you’re looking to get into fly fishing and casting this year, keep an eye out for some casting classes that will be announced soon! Coming in June, these are sure to fill up fast. Call the shop if you’re interested. 

Tight lines this week!