Fishing Report Updated June 19, 2021
This Yellowstone River fishing report is valid from late June 18 through June.
The Yellowstone River saw a short and intense spring runoff and is now dropping rapidly towards record-low flows. We are about two weeks ahead of normal in terms of clarity, flow, and hatches, and therefore fishing.
The Salmonfly hatch is underway, primarily downstream of Emigrant. Trickles of Salmonflies are possible, though the bite has mostly been subsurface. The Salmonfly hatch will intensify over the next few days and peak from Gardiner to Yankee Jim Canyon (the best Salmonfly stretch) around June 25. Low overall flows should make for good fishing during the hatch, but a fast-moving and brief hatch.
Right now, top flies include TJ Hookers, Lex’s Golden Stones, 20-Bomb Stoneflies, and assorted caddis pupae, all fished deep. A few risers are popping every day, though the river’s still murky and the dry fly bite is inconsistent. It will be better near Gardiner, especially when Salmonflies are heavy. That said, the trout often prefer large attractors (#10-12 Trudes and Synth Double Wings, or small Chubbies) to Salmonflies. They’ll also eat caddis, Yellow Sallies, PMD, and Green Drakes.
For right now, stick to areas upstream from Pine Creek Access south of Livingston. Once flows on the Livingston gauge (link below) reach 6,000cfs, floating below Pine Creek makes sense.
Our next Yellowstone River fishing report will appear around July 1, when the Salmonflies tail off.
Note that we anticipate widespread closures on the Yellowstone by mid-late July given current water levels and summer weather outlooks. 2:00 closures in late July and August for the entire river are almost certain.
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.