Yellowstone & Montana Fishing Report

Yellowstone & Montana Fishing Report

Welcome to Yellowstone Country Fly Fishing’s Livingston Montana Fishing Report and Blog. Check out the general fishing report below for an overview of what’s going on in my area. Visit the Blog to check out our fly tying videos, podcasts, fishing tips, detailed posts on weather and water predictions for the upcoming season (generally posted in the winter and spring), trip reports, and fishing and conservation news.

If you’ve found this page through a Google search or otherwise aren’t familiar with my business, please visit Yellowstone Country Fly Fishing’s Main Site to learn about the guided fishing trips I offer or to peruse our in-depth and free Montana and Yellowstone Fly Fishing Info Site for lots of free advice on fishing Montana and Yellowstone Park.

The fishing report is below the fish.

bright hen brown trout
Yes, this big summer hen was REALLY that nickel-bright.


General Yellowstone Park and Montana Fishing Report

Brrr… it’s cold out there. The Yellowstone River has some slush ice in the drift, as well as some anchor ice (ice that starts on the banks and grows out along the river bottom on the rocks, with faster water above) in Paradise Valley. For right now, stick to the spring creeks, take a road trip to the Missouri or Bighorn, or concentrate at the mouth of the Gardner River or other warm water sources. Or do what I do and go snowboarding or skiing.

Regardless of where you fish in the region through the winter, there’s not much point in getting out before about noon.

Yellowstone Park Fisheries


Montana Fisheries

Yellowstone River Fishing Report

Most of the river is now too cold (icing up) to fish at all. The areas near hot spring discharge (La Duke or the new Yellowstone Hot Spring Resort, which is just La Duke water piped to a pool), areas below the mouths of the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks, and the quarter-mile downstream from the mouth of the hot spring-warmed Gardner River are the only options until the ice clears.

Fish midge pupae and small, flashy mayfly nymphs under indicators for the best numbers. Once in a while something like a dead-drifted Woolly Bugger or sculpin will also work. Hatches are minimal from now (early December) until mid-January, but there’s a small chance of midge emergences for an hour or so at midafternoon. It’s a good idea to fish a midge cripple like our Parachute Midge Emerger when it’s bitter cold, trailing something like a small Trude or a Purple Hazy Cripple, since the real bugs will struggle to get off the water in the cold.

Paradise Valley Spring Creek Fishing Report

Now an excellent choice and on low winter rates of $40/day/angler. There still may be a handful of spawning browns present, and there will certainly be eggs in the riffles, so watch your step and avoid walking on dish-shaped areas of clean gravel. Fish egg patterns, small/slender San Juan Worms like our new Triple Threat Floss Worm, midge pupae or larvae, and slender mayflies. Medium-sized streamers are also a fair bet all winter here, either fished on a slow swing or a more-aggressive strip retrieve. Hatches will be minimal right now, but could include both midges (fish emergers and shallow pupae) and tiny BWO mayflies.

Lower Madison River Fishing Report

Cold, but not as cold as other area rivers. Fish a crawfish pattern with a BWO nymph in the slow walking speed runs. You can also try swinging small streamers on a light tip. Heavy tips will hang you up every cast most places on this river.

Upper Madison River Fishing Report

“Between the Lakes” is a good bet now, but you’ll probably need snowshoes or skis to get there. Think pink scuds, midges, and egg patterns. Some dry midge activity is possible on warmer days.

Missouri River Fishing Report

A long way to go, but probably the best water around that doesn’t require an access fee. For numbers, nymph with pink Lighning Bugs, Rainbow Czechs, and assorted similar pink or rainbow-colored subsurface flies resembling scuds, sowbugs, and eggs about equally. Fish the slow walking speed runs. You can also swing “trout spey” type streamers and lightly-weighted buggers.