9 September, 2022 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy September! While it’s been unseasonably hot, we’ve got the first cool down on the horizon and things are looking like it’s more toward fall. A low of 34 forecast for tonight will put a definite nip in the air. Fall fishing is right around the corner, but we’re still solidly in late summer territory now. 

Yellowstone River 

The Yellowstone River remains in late summer conditions. Water is low, afternoons are slower than mornings, there isn’t much hatching. Hoppers are out, and they make a great platform for hanging a small nymph off the back of. Better to fish two zones with a hopper/dropper rig instead of staring at a bobber with two nymphs this time of year! 

With the heat, mornings have been fishing better than midday to evening. Get out early and you’ll be rewarded. Keep in mind that Mayor’s Landing to Sheep Mountain remains closed to all recreational use. We were also asked by FWP today to remind people that there is not a boat ramp at Sheep Mountain and you can not drive down the dry channel to drop your boat off. Apparently this has become a thing with a decent amount of people doing it. Don’t. 

Things are fishing reasonably well, with hoppers and attractors working on top. Dead drifted streamers, flashy attractor nymphs, and basic patterns like pheasant tails, hare’s ears and princes working well. Ever fished a jig pattern? This is the time to start! 

Things are going to be getting better as we move more toward fall. Come fish the Yellowstone River in October and see what all the fuss is about. 

Madison River 

Our advice for the Lower Madison stands: avoid it. Fall is awesome on this river, but that’s still ahead of us. 

The Upper Madison has been fishing well. Things have slowed down a bit as we’re in the late summer pattern (as everything slows down a bit this time of year), but there are still very nice to be found. This brown caught by Shop Manager Rob’s friend Keenan is proof of that!

Hoppers, terrestrials and attractors are working up top, but you’ll have the best success below the surface. Pheasant tails, copper johns, lightning bugs, spankers, and dead drifted small streamers are what we’d be fishing. On a jig hook if possible. Fish the good water well and you’ll find fish. Try to avoid the middle of the day if feasible. Launching a bit later in the day (after 11am or so) will almost ensure you’ll have some solitude on the river.

Gallatin River 

Same same on the Gallatin this week. It’s late summer. Avoid fishing below the canyon if you can, the water is still pretty darn low and warm. You’ll find most of the fishing pressure below Big Sky to the mouth of the canyon. The algae plume from Big Sky continues. Avoid the crowds by going higher up. 

The Gallatin is a great fishery that everyone loves, but it truly does get better once things start cooling off. Stay tuned. 

Other Waters 

Late summer is an interesting time in Montana, and any other mountainous destination. Flows are low, water temps are up. Fish early in the day to beat the heat, play your fish quickly, and release them as soon as you can. There’s a lot of water that should probably be left alone this time of year, but one spot that isn’t is the high country. 

Lakes, creeks, and streams are an excellent choice this time of year for reasons we have gone over and over in previous reports. Go hiking, biking, and backpacking and go find some fish in truly cold water in truly spectacular places. The fish may not be huge, but the experience certainly is. 

Another spot we haven’t talked about in a while is the spring creeks just south of Livingston. This is the time of year when you start seeing a bit more availability in the calendar and the fishing can be very good. The spring creeks maintain a near constant flow and temp all year long, and are a great choice for cool water. These trout are spooky and picky any time of year, but especially now after a season of pressure. Bring your A game…

Livingston and The Shop

We’re starting to see a notable change in tourist traffic here in Livingston. The families are long gone, and the shoulder season visitors are starting to filter in. The volume of traffic in the fall is considerably less, the weather is super nice, and the fishing is great. Come out and see for yourself why fall is the best season in Montana! 

Our shop is still on summer hours of 8am-6pm (8-3 on Sunday), and we are just starting to get the first of our fall arrivals in. Stay warm on the chilly mornings! We’ve got the flies, fishing gear, rods, reels, and more that you need to enjoy your time out here. 

Stop in and let us know how fishing has been for you. Tight lines this week!