Yellowstone River Fishing Report

This Yellowstone River fishing report is valid from July 6 until roughly July 20.

The Yellowstone is now in prime shape top to bottom with the exception of Yankee Jim Canyon and the water east of Livingston. Even these two areas will come into good floating and fishing shape once flows drop to 4000cfs on the Corwin Springs gauge (the canyon) or 6000cfs on the Livingston gauge (downstream of Livingston). This will happen within the next few days and we have trips scheduled on both waters next week.

Salmonflies are about done downstream of the YNP boundary. That said, big attractor dries like Chubby Chernobyls are still working well on the 13mi from Gardiner to Yankee Jim Canyon. Drop these with a 20-Incher or tan/brown TJ Hooker. As the water continues to drop, smaller attractors like Trudes, smaller Chubbies, and Yellow Stimulators will start working better than big Chubbies. That said, big Chubbies always have a place here as a float for larger stonefly nymphs, which continue to work on this water most of the summer due to good numbers of Nocturnal Stoneflies. Nymphs will shade mostly to caddis pupae and caddis-like attractors (BH Prince) except for that stonefly nymph bite soon.

Downstream of Carbella, the stonefly and big attractor bite is fading fast as the water drops. We still fish Chubbies here, but mostly to help us cast our nymphs closer to the banks. Caddis pupae and similar attractors are working better every day. When caddis are actively hatching, bugs that look more “natural” are best (Kryptonite Caddis, Copper Matt, Bird of Prey, tan Fuzz Bastard). When there are just a few sputtering around, fish more impressionistic bugs (Prince, Prince-pattern Fuzz Bastard, Duracell). Yellow Sally nymphs are also good bets. With the upcoming heat and bright days, slender attractors like Lightning Bugs and Delektable Spankers will come on strong.

Streamers are also good choices on the Yellowstone now. Fish small Zirdles dead-drift or tight-line olive sculpin-esque monstrosities and Zonkers. The largest trout this time of year come on streamers fished in turbulent rips using this technique.

The Yellowstone has generally been fishing better in the afternoons than the mornings, but this will change this upcoming week with the extreme heat. The hot bite will run 9:00 to 2:00 sooner rather than later. Also look for the trout to move into faster water. They have been in relatively slow seams lately, since water temps have never cracked 60 yet this season and have mostly run 56–58. Temps 62–66 are fine for trout health but require them to eat more, so they sit in the faster rips.

The Yellowstone is unlikely to see hoot owl closures prior to the last ten days of July this year no matter how hot it gets in the next couple weeks, and maybe not then, but fishing after 3:00PM is likely to be very poor and borderline unethical by the end of next week as water temps start to flirt with 70 degrees in early evening.

Info about our float trips, a majority of which take place on the Yellowstone.

Info about our Montana walk & wade trips, which in winter and early spring take place on the Yellowstone.

Yellowstone River Fishing Report – Relevant Links