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.

 

Quick Links to Each Drainage/Category

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

 

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 Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in late June or so, 2015.


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

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in early July, 2015.

Yellowstone Drainage Small Streams

Updated Nov 2

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

Yellowstone Drainage Lakes and Ponds

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in 2015.

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Lamar River Drainage

Lamar River

Lower Lamar

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.

Soda Butte Creek

Silver Gate (Park Boundary)

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.

Slough Creek

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.

Trout Lake

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in 2015.


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Gardner River Drainage

Gardner River Above Osprey Falls

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.

Gardner River, Osprey Falls to Boiling River

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.

Gardner River, Boiling River to Yellowstone River

Just Below Boiling River

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in June 2015.

Small Streams

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.

Lakes

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in late May 2015.

 

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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 Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in early June 2015.

Firehole River

At Old Faithful, Lower River

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in late May 2015.

Gibbon River

At Madison Junction

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in June 2015.

Grebe & Wolf Lakes

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in June 2015.


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Snake River Drainage

Snake River

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.

Lewis River

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.

Lewis and Shoshone Lakes

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.


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Gallatin River Drainage Inside YNP

Gallatin River

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.

Small Streams

Updated Nov 2

Closed for the year. Check back in July 2015.


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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 Mar 28

The Yellowstone has been fishing very well whenever it isn’t muddy. With the warm weather, expect some pulses of mud to come through. The river might be a bit “tiger-striped,” so if you drive you’ll usually be able to find clear water.
The bread & butter flies right now are large stonefly nymphs and medium-sized attractor nymphs. A good rig to start with is a #6 Brown Girdle Bug with a #12 Bead Hare & Copper or BH Prince on the dropper. Egg patterns also work well on the dropper. You might also size down to a #16-18 Copper John or BH Pheasant Tail, but only when the water is clear.

Streamers are another good choice. #4-6 Woolly Buggers in olive, black, and yellow & brown are good starting points. Vary your retrieve before you change flies. Streamers will work best on cloudy days when the water is a touch off-color but not filthy.

Dry fly activity will be limited to days when the water is at least emerald green in clarity. Some small winter stoneflies (Little Black Stones) are present, but the fish are most likely to rise to midges or BWO. It’s still a bit early for March Browns and much too early for Mother’s Day Caddis. Expect great dry fly fishing in mid-late April, since all the low elevation snow is gone.

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

Livingston

Updated Mar 28

Same as above.

Yellowstone River, Shields River Confluence to Clark Fork Confluence

Springdale, Big Timber

Updated Mar 28

The Shields has been bringing in a lot of mud at times, so this stretch of the Yellowstone hasn't been fishing as well as the water further upstream.

Other Waters

Updated Mar 28

Creeks are still closed. Dailey Lake should be fishing fair along the north (shallow and gravelly) shore as the stocked rainbows try to spawn. Sight-fish with leeches.

 

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Madison River Drainage

Madison River, Hebgen Lake to Quake Lake

Updated Nov 2

With the road through YNP now closed, this water is just too far from here. It should fish well on streamers, egg flies, and stonefly nymphs. Steer clear of spawning gravel.

Madison River, Quake Lake to Ennis Lake

Below Quake Lake, Near Cameron

Updated Nov 2

Too far to travel with YNP roads closed, but again should fish well. In addition to the above, midges and BWO might bring the fish up.

Madison River, Lower

Below Ennis Lake

Updated Mar 28

Should be fishing pretty well. Think midge nymphs, San Juan Worms, and Woolly Buggers. Sunny, warm weekends will be more crowded than you think. On still, cloudy days, you might find fish rising to BWO or midges.

Hebgen and Quake Lakes

Updated Mar 28

Still frozen for the most part, though several arms of Hebgen are already developing long ice-free leads.

 

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Private Lakes

Story Lakes

Updated Nov 2

Check back in late April.

Merrell Lake

Updated Nov 2

Check back in early May.

Burns Lake

Updated Nov 2

Check back in early May.

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Spring Creeks

Armstrong's, Nelson's, Depuy

Updated Mar 28

The spring creeks are great choices right now. There have been consistent BWO and midge hatches for most of March, there are lots of extra fish present in the creeks due to the spring rainbow trout spawning run, and rates remain at the “low” winter rate of $40/day through April 14.

Dry fly fishing depends on calm winds. Fish may be rising to midges or to #18-22 BWO. The best fishing will occur during BWO hatches on calm or slightly unsettled days with a little spitting drizzle or snow. Late this upcoming week looks like ideal BWO conditions. Basically, if the weather looks like you don’t want to be out in it but won’t find being outside actually terrible, that’s when good BWO hatches happen.

A more consistent tactic will be to nymph. Midge pupae, slender mayfly nymphs (Pheasant Tails), Flexi San Juan Worms, and egg patterns will all work. Target the deeper slots, particularly below faster water. These areas should be holding good numbers of pre-spawn rainbows.

Streamers are also a good choice, particularly on cloudy days. Plan to cover a lot of water and fish medium-sized Woolly Buggers.

Whatever you do, stay away from the shallow gravel where trout are spawning. Fishing the deeper slots where they’re preparing to spawn or resting after finishing up is fine. Dragging fish off their redds (spawning nests) is not. Most of the key spawning areas are closed right now, but if you see fish over shallow gravel elsewhere, leave them alone.

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Other Montana Waters

Missouri River, "Land of Giants"

Updated Mar 28

This is Montana’s premier big fish water, and it’s fishing very well right now. Both Walter and Ben have been up several times this spring and Walter’s jet boat trips are now available for the spring and early summer season. If you’ve never hit this water, home to fat rainbows averaging 18-22 inches, you should do yourself a favor and book a trip.

The best fishing has been with egg patterns and “egg-like” flies such as Pink Lightning Bugs and Firebead Soft Hackle Sow Bugs, but if you’re a streamer guy you can also do well swinging Woolly Buggers. The water is lower than it was last year due to our low snow pack, so the fish aren’t going to be as concentrated along the banks and in the softest water they can find. In fact, a lot of boats are doing well anchored in shoal areas in the middle of the river.

This water is near both Helena and Great Falls and so sees a lot of pressure from locals as well as travelers, so it fishes best on weekdays, particularly when the weather is ugly.

Missouri River, Holter Dam to Cascade

Updated Nov 2

Good BWO, midge, and streamer fishing is taking place by most accounts.

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