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 June 23

The spring runoff is now basically over, with only Soda Butte and the Lamar still slightly too high. The Firehole and Madison (and soon the Gibbon) on the west side of the park are either too warm or almost too warm. All in all, it's summer, folks.

The Yellowstone River just downstream of Gardiner is at its peak Salmonfly emergence as I type this. Further upstream, the hatch is either imminent or just starting. Past Yankee Jim Canyon, all you can expect are some stragglers, particularly as the week goes on. The entire Yellowstone is seeing heavy hatches of various caddis and smaller stoneflies.

The Gardner River is fishing with stonefly and attractor nymphs, and might turn out a few fish on caddis-type attractors. Salmonflies are coming off in small numbers. They are emerging best below Boiling River, but since these insects move upstream to egg-lay, you might find fish eating them upstream.

The Firehole River is way too warm. Forget it. Elsewhere in the Madison drainage in YNP, the Madison is still fishing in the mornings while the Gibbon is fishing well top to bottom all day long if you can find a stretch to yourself, but it too is getting warm. A few hot days and the stretch below Norris Geyser Basin will be too warm.

Park hike-in lakes are fishing well, as are most small streams that are open.

Private lakes are getting a bit warm. With the Yellowstone ready, we're not fishing them much again until mid-fall. The spring creeks are probably 100% booked, but the PMD hatches are in full swing.

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 Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back July 15, 2015.

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

Updated June 23

Scattered Salmonfly and Golden Stone emergences are occurring near warm water vents, but the bulk of the hatch is still a week or more away here. For now, expect streamers, stonefly nymphs, and large attractor dries to be more productive. You might also see isolated PMD or Green Drake hatches.

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

Updated June 23

The head of the main Salmonfly hatch is now somewhere in the lower Black Canyon. Above that, nymphs, streamers, and large attractors are the main bets. Below, they might still work better than the "big bugs" on some days, but the big bugs sure are more fun to fish... Near cold creeks, the hatch might continue another two weeks.

Yellowstone Drainage Small Streams

Updated June 18

All are now clear, but some are still rather high and cold, so the fish have typically been in the bigger pools. They will spread out over the next couple weeks. These creeks make great ways of beating the crowds, as long as you're okay with smaller fish.

Yellowstone Drainage Lakes and Ponds

Updated May 30

Cascade is fishing well with small leeches, soft hackles, and midge dries (the latter only when they're rising). Blacktail is closed. Some lakers are being caught on big spoons (and therefore big streamers) in Yellowstone Lake. Kill and grill these invasives.

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Lamar River Drainage

Lamar River

Lower Lamar

Updated June 18

See the entry for Soda Butte.

Soda Butte Creek

Silver Gate (Park Boundary)

Updated June 23

Still high and murky, but almost there. Will you be the first one to have a banner day here? Only way to find out is to try.

Slough Creek

Updated June 23

Now fishing well on streamers in the meadows and caddis-type attractors in the rougher water. Some Salmonflies are possible in the rougher water. Green Drakes, Yellow Sallies, and caddis will begin bringing up big fish in the meadows any day now.

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.

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Gardner River Drainage

Gardner River Above Osprey Falls

Updated June 18

Almost ready to provide your brookie fix, but we're still fishing tribs for another week or so.

Gardner River, Osprey Falls to Boiling River

Updated June 23

Fishing well in the afternoons on stonefly and large attractor nymphs. Some dry fly fishing with large attractors and Salmonflies is possible, but the bulk of the Salmonfly hatch is a week or more out here.

Gardner River, Boiling River to Yellowstone River

Just Below Boiling River

Updated June 23

Salmonflies and Golden Stoneflies are now hatching. Use smaller examples on this river than elsewhere and don't hesitate to fish them drowned. Big caddis-style attractors and evening caddis hatches will also bring the fish up, but don't hesitate to fish attractor nymphs too.

Small Streams

Updated June 18

Now fishing well as long as you're not following in someone's footsteps. Attractor dry/dropper combos are the best bet.


Updated June 18

Most Gardner drainage lakes fish better early in the year, so we've only got a week or two of good fishing left on these. Flashy soft hackles are the best day-in, day-out bet, but you might find fish rising to Callibaetis or midges or find some that want leeches.

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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 June 18

Getting very warm in the afternoons (due to the bathwater Firehole component of this water's flow), but still fishing okay in the mornings on caddis and PMD. A few hot, bright days will spell the end of the spring fishing on this water.

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 June 18

The Gibbon has fished really well for us this year, but the word's out and pressure has been intense. Another week or so of good fishing remains below Norris Geyser Basin before this water gets questionably warm through the summer. Above Norris, expect mostly smaller fish but good fishing through the summer. In the canyons and upstream from Virginia Cascades, fish attractor dry/dropper combos and try to get on a stretch that hasn't been fished the day you're there. In the meadows, particularly those downstream of Norris, prostrate yourself before the fish gods in hope for a PMD or Green Drake hatch. These hatches are the main watch you'll catch anything but frustration.

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 May 22

A long way from here and likely to be high, cold, and murky.

Lewis River

Updated May 22

The Lewis Lake outlet should fish well on streamers. In fact, the whole river ought to.

Lewis and Shoshone Lakes

Updated May 22

We're waiting until early June to put the boats out on Lewis.

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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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Yellowstone River Drainage

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

Yellowstone River Webcam, Corwin Springs Stream Gauge

Updated June 18

Salmonfly Hatch Imminent! The river is now flowing under 8000 and "green is good" clarity, and everything's likely to keep getting better except if it rains. For now, stonefly nymphs and streamers are the main bets, but the Salmonfly (and caddis, and PMD, and Golden Stone, and Yellow Sally...) hatches are about to blow up big time. The next week or two is going to see the river ramp up into "Holy BLEEP this fishing is amazing!" territory, where it should stay (with some variation) through July. It's time to get your Yellowstone on...

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


Updated June 18

Salmonflies are scarcer on this stretch of river but start sooner than above, and the big browns sure do love streamers in the turbulent rips just off the bank this time of year. Also, throw a big Trude or Double Wing with a Bead Hare & Copper or MT Prince dropper for lots of 13-18" rainbows. This is the stretch we'll be doing most often for a shot at larger fish for the next two months or so, while we fish higher up for numbers of fish and dry fly fishing.

Yellowstone River, Shields River Confluence to Clark Fork Confluence

Springdale, Big Timber

Updated June 18

This water is bigger and burlier than the water upstream, so we don't suggest fishing it until flows drop to about 6000cfs at the Livingston stream gauge (see link above), but once it's there it should be rocking on caddis and big ugly nymphs.

Other Waters

Updated June 18

Creeks are still a bit high, but dropping quick. By July 4 or so they should offer a great changeup option to the big river, with lots of brightly-colored but smaller trout willing to eat dries and little or no crowds.


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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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