Fishing Report Updated October 31, 2022
This Yellowstone River fishing report is valid from October 31 through Thanksgiving.
Recent cold, snowy weather has moved us into “very late fall mode” a couple weeks earlier than normal. Basically, while water temps remain in the 40s most days, the fishing can still be okay. Once temps drop below 40, you’re probably better off tying flies until late January, when the water is still just as cold but increased sunlight gets a few bugs moving.
The best fishing will be on calmer, warmer afternoons. We’ve got warm for the next couple days, but the wind is howling. Late this week, there’s a chance for significant snow. Don’t bother fishing if that happens.
Swing streamers or nymph deep slots looking for a few good browns. This is the bread and butter shot fishing this time of year: go big or go home.
The best chance at a BWO or midge hatch will occur on warmer, calm afternoons on the east side of the river where the sunshine lasts longest. The hatches will not last more than an hour or two and will be highly-localized, but it’s possible a lot of fish will cluster up in small areas and feed like mad for a little while.
Avoid long stretches of shallow water. The best areas will be walking-speed, large-scale runs and seams. Wintering holes, basically. Nymphing will produce primarily whitefish except in the deep bouldery areas. Girdle Bugs and egg imitations are good choices in those areas.
Beware of spawning brown trout in the shallow, gravely areas. Leave them alone to make the next generation!
Top dries: #18 Purple Hazy Cripple, #18 Hi-Viz Gray Baetis, #18 Griffith’s Gnat, #18-20 Parachute Midge.
Top streamers: “trout spey” style streamers with lots of fine motion are the best bets from now through the winter, since the fish tend to like flies moving slow rather than stripped and ripped. You can also try nymphing with Woolly Buggers or sculpin imitations, basically trying to bang the fish on the head.
Top nymphs (lots of whitefish): #16-18 Frenchie, #18 Radiation Baetis, #16 Mini Flashtail Egg – Pink, #18 Sunkist Baetis, #18-20 WD-40, #18-20 Zebra Midge.
Learn more about fishing the Yellowstone River (in Montana).
Learn more about our float trips, a majority of which take place on the Yellowstone.
Learn more about our Montana walk & wade trips, which in winter and early spring take place on the Yellowstone.
Yellowstone River Fishing Report – Relevant Links
- Lamar River, Gardner River, and Shields River streamflow data: Sudden flow spikes in these waters will bring mud into the Yellowstone, the Gardner first.
- 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.
- Springdale and Big Timber streamflow data (east of Livingston): watch for water temps over 70 degrees on these waters.
- Gardiner, Corwin Springs, Emigrant, Livingston, Big Timber, and Columbus weather forecasts. Watch the wind speeds and avoid floating Livingston-Columbus when east winds are forecast.
- Gardiner Webcam This raft company webcam gives a good sense of Yellowstone River level and clarity for the Upper River.