Fishing Report Updated April 9, 2021
This Yellowstone River fishing report is valid for the middle two weeks of April, 2021.
Shifty weather has made things hard to predict on the Yellowstone of late. One of our guides had a trip last Saturday and did well for an hour, then had fishing shut down on him for the rest of the afternoon as an early surge of snowmelt turned the water a hair too dark. We had to cancel another trip on Tuesday for the same reason.
Once clarity stabilizes, fish big stonefly nymphs and slow-drifted streamers for the most consistent action. BWO nymphs can also work, usually as droppers behind the big flies. Egg patterns work well downstream of tributary creeks where the trout are now spawning. BWO, midge, and March Brown hatches are possible from midday through about 5:00PM, with the best hatches occurring on calm, gray days in the 50s. Look for the largest numbers of rising fish in foamy eddies and slicks. The east side of the river is usually best since it will be slightly warmer.
As the water temperature rises, streamers fished faster and faster start making more and more sense if your goal is a couple big browns rather than numbers. The Mother’s Day Caddis hatch may or may not produce on the Yellowstone. Pupae will start working soon. The hatch itself usually starts around May 5 unless it’s blown out by the early part of the spring runoff.
Yellowstone River Fishing Report – Relevant Links
- Lamar River Streamflow Data: Sudden flow spikes in the Lamar will reach Gardiner in about 6 hours.
- Gardner River Streamflow Data: Sudden flow spikes in the Gardner River (yes, river and town are spelled differently) will reach Gardiner in about an hour and blow out this hole section inside 6 hours. They also run through quickly, though.
- Corwin Springs Streamflow Data: Keep an eye on this graph. Sudden spikes the day before or even the morning you plan to fish can catch you on this section.
- Livingston Streamflow Data: Flows under 6000cfs on this graph mean this stretch is safe to float.
- Shields River Streamflow Data: Watch for big spikes in spring. These indicate muddy water that will trash the Yellowstone below for the duration of spring runoff.
- Springdale Streamflow Data:
- Big Timber Streamflow Data:
- Stillwater River Streamflow Data: If water temps are hitting 70+ on the Stillwater, they’ll be well over 70 on the Yellowstone at Columbus.
- Gardiner Weather
- Corwin Springs Weather
- Carbella Point Forecast
- Emigrant Weather: Check this page for wind forecasts. Strong south winds are common here. They are usually worse between Carbella and the rest area at the 24 mile marker and not as bad from the rest area down. The upper Yellowstone above Carbella is also seldom as bad as Carbella to the rest stop during windy periods.
- Livingston Weather Check this page for wind forecasts for the area downstream of Carter’s Bridge. When south winds are blowing, this stretch can be a nightmare.
- Big Timber Weather: Watch the wind forecast. If they’re forecast to be out of the east at 10+mph or out of the west at 20+, it’s best to float somewhere else.
- Columbus, MT Weather (Lower Yellowstone R and Stillwater R)
- Gardiner Webcam This raft company webcam gives a good sense of Yellowstone River level and clarity for the Upper River.
- Pine Creek Webcam: Check for ice in early spring or muddy water at other times using this cam.