Parks' Fly Shop fishing reports: yellowstone fishing reports and montana fishing reports

Fishing Report

This is our basic, just the facts Yellowstone country fishing report. This fishing report is organized first by jurisdiction (Yellowstone fishing reports followed by Montana fishing reports), then by river drainage, with the private lakes, spring creeks, and distant Montana waters in their own categories at the end. Small creeks in a given river drainage will be discussed under their parent drainage. If you have any specific questions, or want an up to the second report, give us a call. The links following some location names will take you to stream gauges (and in one case a webcam). Sudden spikes in streamflow usually mean muddy water.

The Short and Sweet Version: Update July 24

Please Note: Head Guide Walter Wiese is responsible for the fishing report. None of our other staff knows how to work online. Since Walter is now guiding on a daily basis, the fishing report won't get updated all that often through the summer. For up to the minute reports, please call the shop.

We've been blessed and cursed by cool, wet weather that has kept area waters cool and fishing great except when they're muddy. Terrestrials are now working everywhere, while caddisflies are still active on the Yellowstone and other large rivers, Midnight Stones are popping on the big river (they're why the trout eat BIG hoppers), and the Lamar drainage is seeing mayfly hatches most days. Overall, we've had a good season so far despite the low water due to the cool weather. Unlike 2007, the most comparable year, we have not had warm water temperatures to deal with (though rivers are near record low flows), and we do not have any "hoot owl" closures in effect in our operations area, nor are any anticipated in the next 2-3 weeks. This is a much better state of affairs than is faced by operations in western Montana, many of which are based on fisheries that are currently closing to angling at 2:00PM due to warm water.

The Long and In-Depth Version

In YNP: Yellowstone inside YNP, Lamar, Gardner, Madison inside YNP, Snake, Gallatin inside YNP

In Montana: Yellowstone, Madison, Private Lakes, Spring Creeks, Other Montana Waters

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone River Drainage Inside YNP

Please note: if you are reading this report in a business other that Parks' Fly Shop as a printout without a prominent placard placed above the report identifying it as belonging to Parks' Fly Shop, the business displaying the report is doing so without our permission and is violating our copyright. This paragraph is here because some area businesses (not any of the fly shops) have been printing our report and using it to sell fishing tackle, all without our permission or identifying explicitly where they got the report.

Yellowstone River Above the Lake and Lake to Falls

Yellowstone Lake Outlet

Updated July 24

Fishing well on Green Drakes and PMD during the day and caddis in the evenings. Also try sight-nymphing the obvious slots. You will always do better here fishing to individual spotted fish or rising trout, rather than blind-casting, but covering lots of water with streamers can also work. Don’t expect many fish here, but they’ll be big.

Yellowstone River, Grand Canyon (Falls to Mouth of Lamar)

Updated July 24

Terrestrials (crickets and small hoppers), Midnight Stonefly imitations (gold Chubby Chernobyls), and attractor dries are all working well, as are small attractor nymphs fished under the dries. Streamers are always good choices here. Fish a large Woolly Bugger or sculpin with a tiny streamer trailing it. Easy access points may be crowded and almost certainly won’t fish as well as the areas where you have to suffer on the hike in/out.

Yellowstone River, Black Canyon (Mouth of Lamar to Gardiner)

Updated July 24

The upper end will fish similarly to the Grand Canyon, while from Blacktail Creek or so downstream will fish more like the Gardiner-Livingston stretch. This stretch gets muddy on a day-to-day basis depending on rain, so have a backup plan.

Yellowstone Drainage Small Streams

Updated July 24

The small streams are good choices now, particularly on hot afternoons when bigger waters might be too warm to fish well or when rain muddies larger rivers. Small-medium attractor dries and small hoppers are all you should need.

Yellowstone Drainage Lakes and Ponds

Updated July 5

Yellowstone drainage lakes hadn't been fishing well after noon in the recent hot spell, but now that it's over, hit them up anytime the wind isn't blowing. Strip soft hackles or look for risers eating midges and Callibaetis.

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Lamar River Drainage

Lamar River

Lower Lamar

Updated July 24

Mud is always the question on the Lamar. When it’s clear, particularly just after it clears, it will be gangbusters. Green and Gray Drakes and Little Green Drakes (Flavs) will get the fish really excited, but PMD are more consistent. Evening caddis hatches are possible. It’s now terrestrial time, so small hoppers and crickets are good bets. Trail these with an ant or beetle or a small mayfly nymph like a Flashback Pheasant Tail. Absent a hatch, the fish are going to be holding tight to structure and/or in areas that are difficult to fish.

Soda Butte Creek

Silver Gate (Park Boundary)

Updated July 24

Fishing well but obscenely crowded when it’s clear, particularly in the Junction Meadow and Round Prairie where large fish (12-16” on average, reaching 20” pretty often) predominate. Head up to the upper creek above Ice Box Canyon for a better chance of solitude but smaller fish (mostly 8-14”). No matter where you are on Soda Butte, similar bugs as mentioned above for the Lamar are good choices.

Slough Creek

Updated July 24

Very similar to the Lamar. Crickets are working well. The fish here are now getting very well-educated, so careful casts and drifts and keen observation as to what the trout are eating will make a huge difference. Novices need not apply. Try to fish to individual fish rather than “fishing the water.” Hike up to the Second Meadow for the best fishing, if you can.

Trout Lake

Updated May 22

Sight-fish for the big, spooky cutthroats here with scuds and tiny, flashy nymphs that look like midge larvae and pupae.

Small Streams

Updated July 24

Pebble Creek, Cache Creek, and other large tributary streams are good choices for fit anglers who like to hike. All streams in the Lamar basin can host good mayfly hatches, but smaller hoppers, ants, and beetles usually work best.


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Gardner River Drainage

Gardner River Above Osprey Falls

Updated July 24

Low and fishing well for abundant brook and rainbow trout ideal for beginners. Attractor dry/dropper combos and the willingness to hike 1-2 miles away from the road are the keys. Some areas are getting a bit low for ideal fishing, so look for narrower, faster sections where the river still has plently of depth and oxygenated water.

Gardner River, Osprey Falls to Boiling River

Updated July 24

Fishing well as long as you’re fishing “fresh” water. Small Chubby Chernobyls, pink hoppers, crickets, and medium-sized attractor dries like Coachman Trudes trailed with a beadhead Prince or similar attractor nymph will put you into good numbers of fish. The easiest locations to access won’t fish all that well, but if you put some effort into getting into areas that are tough to reach, expect to be rewarded with lots of 8-14” rainbows and a few other types of trout.

Gardner River, Boiling River to Yellowstone River

Just Below Boiling River

Updated July 24

Similar to Osprey-Boiling River stretch, but much warmer, so fishing after 2:00PM is discouraged. Caddis and attractor dries, hoppers, and crickets are the best choices.

Small Streams

Updated July 24

Fishing well on attractor dry/dropper combos. Like the upper Gardner, some areas are really a bit low and featureless now, particularly stretches close to the road that have been thrashed by the masses for five or six weeks now.

Lakes

Updated July 5

Really too warm and will be through Labor Day.

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Madison River Drainage Inside YNP

Please note: this drainage is infested with New Zealand Mud Snails, an invasive species that poses a large threat to other river drainages in the region. Please clean your gear between fishing this drainage (especially the Firehole) and fishing elsewhere. This website includes information on how to effectively clean your gear.

Madison River in Yellowstone Park

Near West Yellowstone

Updated July 5

Much too warm and will be through Labor Day unless there's a serious late August cold snap. Let the fish be.

Firehole River

At Old Faithful, Lower River

Updated June 18

Portions of the Firehole have already reached 83 degrees this year, which is ten degrees above trout's temperature avoidance level. Basically, some days here have reached the human equivalent of 130-140 degrees. Survivable for the fish? Maybe, if it doesn't stay this hot for more than a day or two, but not if anglers further stress the fish. We suggest leaving the entire Firehole and its tributaries alone until at least mid-September this year, except perhaps for Nez Perce Creek above its geothermal basins and the upper Firehole above Kepler Cascade.

Let me clarify: the Firehole is WAY WAY too warm for good fishing right now, and any fish you do hook or catch will almost certainly die, even if you fish only early in the morning. Leave it alone.

Gibbon River

At Madison Junction

Updated July 5

The Gibbon below Norris Geyser Basin is now too low and warm to fish well. Leave it alone until Labor Day.

Above Norris, fish attractor dry/dropper combos for the abundant small fish found in this cold water.

Grebe & Wolf Lakes

Updated June 18

No recent reports, but ought to be fishing great along the north and NW shores on soft hackles and Parachute Adams.


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Snake River Drainage

Snake River

Updated July 5

Probably fishing well on attractor dry/dropper combos, stonefly dries, and perhaps streamers. This is a heck of a long way from here, though...

Lewis River

Updated July 5

A long way to go, but there should be some PMD, Green Drakes, and perhaps Gray Drakes in the meadows. Also enough mosquitoes and flies to carry you away...

Lewis and Shoshone Lakes

Updated July 5

With warm surface temperatures meaning the fish require trolling, you're better off somewhere else.


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Gallatin River Drainage Inside YNP

Gallatin River

Updated June 18

Check with our friends at Gallatin River Guides in Big Sky. This water is just too far away from here for us to know what's going on.

Small Streams

Updated June 18

See above.


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Montana

Yellowstone River Drainage

Yellowstone River, Gardiner to Emigrant (Gardiner Basin and Upper Paradise Valley)

Yellowstone River Webcam, Corwin Springs Stream Gauge

Updated July 24

Fishing great most days, with mud from upstream rains and super-bright sun in the afternoons the main deal-breakers. For numbers of fish everywhere and the best luck near Gardiner, use small hoppers or attractor dries trailing either a flying ant, a tiny attractor dry, or perhaps a small beadhead nymph. Larger fish might come to very larger (#6-10) gold-colored foam dries that look like either grasshoppers and Midnight Stones, but these won’t catch as many fish as smaller bugs

Yellowstone River, Emigrant to Shields River (Middle of Paradise Valley to just east of Livingston)

Livingston

Updated July 24

Not as consistent as the stretch above, but a better bet for large trout. We had our first big (20" plus) hopper-eating brown here last week, and it's just the beginning of hopper season... This is a very friendly stretch to fish with a large streamer (Woolly Bugger or sculpin) under an indicator with an attractor nymph on the dropper, again in hopes of a few larger fish. Otherwise, flies and tactics are similar here as upstream.

Yellowstone River, Shields River Confluence to Clark Fork Confluence

Springdale, Big Timber

Updated July 5

This water was hitting 72 degrees during the heat wave, so we haven't run a boat on it yet this year.

Other Waters

Updated July 24

This is a great time to fish Yellowstone drainage small creeks, particularly those in the National Forest. These creeks make a great escape from the river if it's fishing tough on bright afternoons. Fish attractor dries and small hoppers, with attractor nymph droppers if you see the need for them. Give and expect plently of room (minimum 500 yards) if you come upon another party.

 

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Madison River Drainage

Madison River, Hebgen Lake to Quake Lake

Updated June 18

To be honest, we'd have to drive past oodles of good water to get here. Check with Blue Ribbon Flies in West.

Madison River, Quake Lake to Ennis Lake

Below Quake Lake, Near Cameron

Updated June 18

Salmonflies and the accompanying smaller stoneflies and various caddis have started hatching in earnest on this reach, so crowds will be high, but sometimes joining the crowd makes for great fishing.

Madison River, Lower

Below Ennis Lake

Updated June 18

Too warm, bordering on way too warm.

Hebgen and Quake Lakes

Updated June 18

Probably good, but why drive so far when we have great fishing 5 minutes out the door?

 

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Private Lakes

Story Lakes

Updated June 18

Story Lake fished great for us this spring, like REALLY great, but it's getting a bit warm and weedy now, so with the Yellowstone ready to rock, we'll be leaving this water to itself until late September.

Merrell Lake

Updated May 22

No reports yet. Given how much this lake has suffered in the past few years, we aren't in any rush to fish it.

Burns Lake

Updated May 22

Fishing very well on chironomid pupae and you might see chironomid or Callibaetis hatches if the wind is calm.

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Spring Creeks

Armstrong's, Nelson's, Depuy

Updated June 14

On high-season rates of $120/day/angler now, but also fully booked unless somebody croaks. Why the crowds? PMDs, my friend, PMDs. The best or at least most famous fishing on the creeks runs until the middle of July. Expect sparse midge hatches or spinner falls from dawn until about 8-9AM, then PMD until early afternoon, then sparse hatches of this and that whatever. The reason the creeks are famous is this hatch. Something to consider for next year, if you don't have reservations for 2015...

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Other Montana Waters

Missouri River, "Land of Giants"

Updated June 18

Walter's spring trips to the Missouri ended with a bang last weekend, with 20-40 fish averaging 18 inches hooked or landed each day, and the heaviest fish weighing in at well north of five pounds. Red Squirmie Wormies and red Ultrasuede Worms were the tickets in the mornings, followed by slender mayfly nymphs in the afternoons. PMDs and BWOs hatched in small numbers both days, but they got blown away by the howling winds. On a calm day, especially a calm gray day, expect to see some rising fish. Best of all, the number of boats has nosedived from its spring peak. While Walter is focusing on the Yellowstone now, he'd still be up for running up to "LoG" for a two-day booking...

Missouri River, Holter Dam to Cascade

Updated May 22

Check with our friends at Crosscurrents. There's no reason for us to drive so far right now.

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