Fishing Report Updated June 19, 2021

This Montana fishing report is valid from June 18 through late June. Our next Livingston Montana fishing report will come out in late June.

Early June saw record warmth and virtually no rain across southwest Montana. This means that we are almost in “summer mode” already: geothermal waters are too warm, while larger rivers further north, most small streams, and the Lamar System are fast becoming the best waters. The Lamar System in YNP is still a bit too high. Everything else is fishable now, and likely to have its most consistent fishing of the year sometime in the next three weeks depending on water. If you’re familiar with the area, we’re looking at early July conditions already.

The best fisheries include the following right now:

  • Yellowstone River in Montana
  • Boulder River
  • Stillwater River
  • Yellowstone River in YNP (except the area down to the Upper Falls, which is closed until 7-15
  • Gardner River in YNP
  • Small streams draining YNP’s central plateau (small fish)

The Lamar River System (Lamar, Soda Butte, Slough) is dropping and clearing but still not there yet. This is the only basin in the region that still has a substantial amount of snowpack remaining.

The Yellowstone River in Montana is fishing well from Gardiner to Livingston. It’s still too high east of Livingston. For right now, nymphing with a large stonefly and either a caddis pupa or some sort of attractor nymph under it has been the best tactic. A few rising fish are around, but the Salmonfly hatch has not begun in earnest yet. It will any day now, so you should be ready to fish them. Caddis, smaller stones, Green Drakes, and PMD are also possible hatches. Generally large attractor dries work for everything but the Salmonflies just as the river clears.

The Boulder River is dropping into shape and fishing well on nymphs and streamers. The caddis and small stonefly (or attractor dry) bite will improve over the coming week. While flows remain above 1500cfs, getting out to wade fish the good pools is the best tactic. Once flows are under 1500, the best fishing will be from the boat until flows drop under about 900cfs, after which wade-fishing is best again.

The Stillwater River is similar to the Boulder, though the lower river below the Rosebud confluence is still running quite high. For now, fish above Absarokee. Once flows drop below 2000cfs, the river is good top to bottom. Under 1500, below Absarokee is probably best. Stonefly and attractor nymphs are tops now. Once flows hit 2000, go with a dry-dropper combo.

In Yellowstone Park, the Yellowstone River in the Grand and Black Canyons is fishing well using the same tactics as the Yellowstone outside the park. Salmonflies may come off in patchy fashion any time now near hot springs, but the peak of the Salmonflies here will be in early August. Streamers are always a good choice on the Yellowstone in the park. The Gardner is enjoying its Salmonfly and Golden Stonefly hatches downstream of Boiling River. Fish Chubby Chernobyls with a nymph dropper, or Euro-Nymph with a stonefly and a caddis or even two stones. The upper Gardner system is coming into play for small brook trout, as well. Creeks draining the low-elevation ridges of the park’s central plateau are now fishing well with small attractor dry-dropper combos. This includes many creeks as well as the headwaters of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers. Note that the Firehole downstream of Old Faithful and the Madison in YNP are now too warm for ethical (or productive) fishing due to the drought and hot, sunny weather. The Gibbon below Norris Geyser Basin should only be fished in the morning.

Relevant Montana Fishing Report Links