Livingston Montana Fishing Report

This Livingston Montana fishing report is valid from May 27 through approximately June 10. The only individual report updated today is the Yellowstone Park Fishing Report.

May has generally been cool and wet, which is exactly what the doctor ordered to probably avoid the worst impacts of this past winter’s drought. That window is now closing and warm, dry weather is in the forecast that will send all area waters except perhaps those draining the Madison Basin in YNP to their maximum spring melt for the season. As such, there are going to be few flowing water options over the span of this report.

The Yellowstone River has been clear enough to fish the past few days. We were out of town for the holiday weekend, but we would have been on the water either paid or unpaid if we had been around. In Livingston the river might be fishable tomorrow, but by Wednesday it will be all over and the river is forecast to reach perhaps 13,000cfs by late in the week. A raging brown torrent, in other words.

The Boulder River will not get as muddy as the Yellowstone, but will be up in the trees by late week and unsafe even for whitewater kayakers, much less anglers.

The Stillwater River is a bit of a hybrid of the Boulder and the Yellowstone, so it too will be muddy.

The lower Madison River will be the most consistent float river in the region for the next few weeks. It fished fair last week, and probably would have been pretty good if we had been able to put together some slightly more intense hatches. The water and air were both still cold, so we needed a bit more sun than we got to get bugs active. Everybody caught fish, though. The fishing will likely improve overall this week with warming water temps. The BWO and Mother’s Day Caddis are going, going, gone, but the Yellow Sallies, PMDs, Tan Caddis, and here and there a golden stonefly are kicking into gear. The best dry fly action will occur at midday and in the evening. If it’s bright and sunny, there won’t be many fish looking up at midday. The higher the water gets here without getting dirty, the better, as it pushes fish into more predictable areas such as along the banks. At lower flows, look for subtle changes in depth such as holes below weed beds, many of them right in the middle of the river. Absent a hatch, fish nymphs that match the above bugs, crayfish imitations such as Clouser Crayfish and Zirdles, and if there’s any dirty water or the water is rising from Ennis Dam, worm imitations.

The Paradise Valley spring creeks are now in their May-June doldrums. Sparse midge or BWO hatches are your best chances at good action. Otherwise, streamers and midge pupae will scrape up a few fish.

The Missouri River will be jam packed with anglers and guides both local and from far away, for good reason. The dry fly action should really come on this week, especially if it’s cloudy, with PMD the most likely suspect. That said, we won’t head that way again this season since we have good reservoirs, the Lower Madison, and now YNP open to fishing much closer to us.

Area Lakes and Reservoirs are approaching their peak season right now and they are where we’ll be fishing over the next couple weeks when we aren’t guiding. Both the trout lakes within 90 minutes of Livingston and the warmwater options (most of which are further away) are good choices now. On the trout lakes, fish leeches and San Juan Worms, but keep an eye out for midge and Callibaetis hatches. The hatches will be most likely to draw rising fish on the smaller, private ranch lakes, rather than the big public reservoirs. Mornings will be best except on calm days, as wind tends to make the lakes MUCH harder to fish. With the heat forecast coming up, you could see some early damselflies by June 5 or so, especially on the shallowest, weediest lakes.

Yellowstone Park opened to fishing on Saturday, the 25th. Unless yahoos screw it up for the rest of us, some portion of Yellowstone National Park will now be open to fishing year-round moving forward. That will be a late fall, winter, and early spring prospect, but we’re still rubbing our hands together in glee. For now, the best fishing is in the Madison River System. Everything downstream of the first geyser should now be good to go for two to four weeks before it gets too warm (this will depend on weather). The Firehole between the bridge at Biscuit Basin and Midway Geyser Basin is probably the best option over the next few days, as the Firehole will rise with forecast warmth, and the more tributaries that enter, the dirtier it gets. That said, flows areĀ  below normal everywhere in the basin, so the lower Gibbon and Madison will also fish. On the Firehole, swing soft hackles in the riffles while keeping an eye out of Mother’s Day or Nectopsyche aka White Miller Caddis or PMD hatches. BWO are pretty unlikely except perhaps Weds this week, when we might have gray skies. On the Madison, nymphs and streamers are best for now. On the Lower Gibbon, you can try stripping Buggers in the meadows in search of a big boy, but dry-dropper combos or attractor nymph combos in the canyon will be far more likely to produce decent numbers of (small) fish. The Park lakes may also fish now, though they’ll be better in a week as they warm a bit.

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