General Fishing Report

On this page you’ll find our general fishing report covering Parks’ Fly Shop’s entire area of operations. If you’re looking for a general overview of current fly fishing conditions in Yellowstone and fly fishing reports for Montana, you’re in the right place. This report is not updated as frequently and features far less detail than our Trip Reports page, where our guides and staff post detailed accounts of their recent guided fishing trips in Montana and Yellowstone Park, as well as their own fly fishing trips in the area.

If you’ve found this page through a Google search or otherwise aren’t familiar with our fly shop, please visit Parks’ Fly Shop’s Main Site to learn about the guided fishing trips we offer, to learn more about the shop, or to peruse our in-depth Montana and Yellowstone fly fishing trip planner for lots of free advice on fishing our region.


REMINDER: YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK BANNED FELT-SOLED WADING GEAR! ONLY RUBBER-SOLED WADING SHOES ARE ALLOWED THIS SEASON!

The Short and Sweet Version

Updated July 14

The northern part of Yellowstone National Park as well as the Yellowstone River north of the park are now fishing well, even though they’re still high. The best fishing will occur away from the easiest access points on rougher water (Gardner, Yellowstone, rough mountain streams) and meadow-type small creeks such as those near Indian Creek Campground, and on larger and more-crowded meadow waters like the Lamar System when hatches are underway.

The Firehole and Madison are now too warm for optimum fishing (especially the Firehole, which is reaching 75+ degrees daily now). The Gibbon below Norris is in the same boat. Leave them alone til fall.

Even on big water like the Yellowstone, dead middle of the afternoon might be tough on the hottest/brightest days.

Read on past the guided trip info below for specifics on all waters in the area.


GUIDED TRIP OPTIONS

Our guiding season is now in full swing and we are fully-booked most days through July 25. That said, we might be able to fit in new clients.

Our primary trips right now are:

FOR BEGINNERS: Hike-in walk/wade trips on our “beginner brookie” streams, usually run as morning half-days. For adults who want more of a challenge and to focus on learning rather than catching tons of dinks, we’re fishing the Gardner.

FOR EXPERIENCED ANGLERS WHO WANT TO WALK: We’re fishing the Gardner, Yellowstone, Slough Creek, Lamar, and Soda Butte Creek, plus a couple tiny hike-in streams, depending on trip length, fitness, and angler goals.

FLOAT TRIPS FOR EXPERIENCED ANGLERS are running on the Yellowstone. For numbers and better dry fly fishing, we’ll fish from Gardiner to Yankee Jim Canyon. For size, we will float from Carbella to Livingston. This is mostly subsurface fishing with nymphs & streamers.

 

 

 

 


The Long and In-Depth Version

Please click one of the following links to be taken directly to the watershed in question, or simply read on to check out the whole report. The links below some entries will take you to streamflow gauges for the water in question. Generally speaking, recent sudden spikes in flow mean there’s a strong potential recent storms have muddied the water.

In YNP: Yellowstone inside YNP, Lamar, Gardner, Madison inside YNP, Snake, Gallatin inside YNP

In Montana: Yellowstone, Madison, Private Lakes, Spring Creeks, Other Montana Waters


Yellowstone National Park Fisheries

Yellowstone River Drainage Inside YNP

Yellowstone River Above the Lake and Lake to Falls

Yellowstone Lake Outlet

Updated May 24

Closed until July 15.

Yellowstone River, Grand Canyon (Falls to Mouth of Lamar)

Updated July 14

Opens tomorrow (7/15). Will be very high but there will be a lot of fish still present. Hatches include tan caddis, green drakes, golden stoneflies, and PMDs. Assorted attractor nymphs and dries will also work. The fish will probably not be very spooky. The challenging part will be finding them as there are not vast numbers of fish here. You can nymph the obvious seams. Otherwise, spot and stalk individual fish, whether they’re rising or feeding subsurface. This is not beginner water.

Yellowstone River, Black Canyon (Mouth of Lamar to Gardiner)

Updated July 14

High and raging fast, but clear and fishing well. Either fish Salmonfly dries or huge attractor dries (like giant Chubby Chernobyls) with either a large attractor nymph (Prince, Bead, Hare, & Copper, 20-Incher, Wire Fusion, Bird of Prey) or a big dry caddis or caddis-type attractor (#10 Trude, smaller Chubby, Stimulator) tight to the banks. In the larger eddies and holes, stripping a pair of streamers (big Woolly Bugger with smaller dropper) will work well. The core Salmonfly hatch is past peak here, but the fish are still looking for them.

Yellowstone Drainage Small Streams

Updated July 14

All that are open (many are always closed) are now fishing, with the flatter-gradient creeks draining the park’s central plateau generally lower and thus easier to fish. On the steep and fast creeks like Hellroaring and Tower, look for anyplace it’s slow. Fish attractor dry/dropper combos. Note that those in Hayden Valley are generally closed.

Yellowstone Lake

Updated June 14

Will be very high and bitter cold, but the trout will be cruising the shorelines. Fish a big Woolly Bugger or other streamer trailing something smaller and more generic. These fish won’t be picky, it’s finding them that’s the trouble. Cutthroats will predominate (red/orange/pink under the jaw). YOU MUST RELEASE THEM. A few lake trout are also possible. YOU MUST KILL THESE! KNOW THE DIFFERENCE! Expect less than five fish per day here, but they will be big.

Other Yellowstone Drainage Lakes and Ponds

Updated June 14

Blacktail closed until July 1. Others are very good bets now. Fish small streamers and leeches under indicators, with Chironomid or soft hackle droppers if there’s no hatch. If there is a hatch, fish something like a small Adams with a soft hackle dropper, or strip soft hackles just under the surface.


Lamar River Drainage

Lamar River

Lower Lamar

Updated July 14

Still high and cold, but dropping fast. The best fishing in the meadows will occur during the midmorning to early afternoon mayfly (PMD, green drake) hatches and the evening tan caddis hatches. Absent a hatch, nymph the structure. Hoppers and so on are just getting started but might draw a curious take or two. In the canyon stretch, the same hatches are present, as are golden stoneflies and salmonflies, so big attractors (gold or purple Chubby Chernobyl) with nymphs on the dropper are good choices. PLEASE NOTE: Cutthroats are still spawning in the shallow, gravelly side channels. If you see fish in shallow water with a steady, gentle current, they are spawning. Do not target these fish or walk through the spawning areas. It is unethical to target these fish and a few errant steps might kill hundreds of eggs in the gravel. Please leave these fish alone to make the next generation.

Soda Butte Creek

Silver Gate (Park Boundary)

Updated July 14

Similar to the Lamar, including the note on avoiding spawners and spawning areas. Expect intense crowding.

Slough Creek

Updated July 14

The meadows are still very high, with good fishing depending on PMD, green drake, gray drake, or small stoneflies hatching and fish eating them. The hatches are most likely from midmorning to early afternoon. You can also try stripping Woolly Buggers. In the rough water near the Lamar and the campground, fish medium-sized attractor dry/dropper combos or stonefly dries. Most fish in these sections will be small, but not all of them. Be very bear-aware on Slough Creek. One of our guides was turned back from his preferred stretch when he and his clients encountered four bears occupying a 200-yard section.

Trout Lake

Updated May 24

Open and home to big cutthroats, but it’ll be hard. These fish are never easy even on the first day of the season (why fish, why?). The best options will be sight-nymphing with tiny soft hackles or flashy, slender beadheads. You can also try traditional, drab scuds. If you’re not seeing fish. Fish one of these same flies, perhaps behind a tiny leech, under an indicator, fished slllllloooooooooowwwww. You can also troll leeches and nymphs on a full-sink line if you have a float tube.

Small Streams

Updated June 27

Pebble is clear enough but raging high. All others will turn on around July 10.


Gardner River Drainage

Gardner River Above Osprey Falls (Including Tributary Creeks)

Updated July 14

Winter, Obsidian, Panther, and Indian Creeks are now all low enough and clear enough to produce good numbers of brookies on attractor dry/dropper combos. They are probably about as dependable as they ever get right now, and will remain so through July before tapering off. Get away from the roadside water, though, as it gets hammered.

Gardner River, Osprey Falls to Boiling River

Updated July 14

Now in shape and fishing well with attractor dry/dropper combos, though it’s still high. Should get progressively better through the remainder of the month. Get away from the roadside water.

Gardner River, Boiling River to Yellowstone River

Just Below Boiling River

Updated July 14

Fish larger stonefly-type attractors (Chubby Chernobyl, Tarantula, PMX, Carnage Attractor) with a Bead, Hare, and Copper or other medium-sized attractor nymph dropper. There may also be evening caddis hatches and there are a few Salmonflies remaining up in Sheepeater Canyon. Hoppers will start working soon below Boiling River. NOTE: There has been a grizzly in the popular “boneyard” or “incinerator” section between the Lava Creek Trail bridge and the “high” bridge on the Mammoth-Tower Road, so make LOTS of noise and carry bear spray.

Lakes

Updated May 24

Joffe and the Swan Lake Flat sloughs (tribs to Glen Creek, at the north end of the swamp near the waterfall) will fish for those willing to splash around in swampy ice water. Fish small soft hackles and flashy, slender nymphs, either stripped slow or twitched under indicators. The fish here are small and spooky brook trout. Joffee fish are a little dumber and include cutthroats. Other lakes are open and probably ice-free, but will be very difficult to reach due to treacherous stream crossings and trails covered in snow in many places. One of our shop staff went to Fawn Lake on the opener and had to make a waist-deep stream crossing. June 10-15 will be far better.


Madison River Drainage Inside YNP

Madison River in Yellowstone Park

Near West Yellowstone

Updated June 27

Fishing well before early afternoon on PMD, tan caddis, and blond caddis.

Firehole River

At Old Faithful, Lower River

Updated July 14

Too warm below the Old Faithful closure. Lots better small-fish water closer to home than the cold water above the closure.

Gibbon River

At Madison Junction

Updated July 14

Too warm below Norris and very meh from there up to Virginia Cascades.

Grebe & Wolf Lakes

We are unclear of the status of these lakes this season. They were supposed to be closed last year in service of a westslope cutthroat and grayling reintroduction project, but we haven’t heard anything since. Best check trail signage or talk to rangers before making the hike this year. The hikes may be closed, or the lakes may be technically open but not have any fish in them anymore, since the resident populations were slated to be eradicated.


Snake River Drainage

Snake River

Updated May 24

Blown out with the spring melt until sometime in July.

Lewis River

Updated May 24

Once the snow around the stream melts, probably in mid-June, may be worth a shot with streamers.

Lewis and Shoshone Lakes

Updated May 24

Still frozen a couple days ago. Likely to ice-out in a week, then be very good for a couple weeks with streamers.


Gallatin River Drainage Inside YNP

Gallatin River

Updated May 24

Blown out with the spring melt until early July.

Small Streams

Updated May 24

Same as the mainstem.


Montana Fisheries

Yellowstone River Drainage

Yellowstone River, Gardiner to Carbella (Upper Yellowstone)

Yellowstone River Webcam, Corwin Springs Stream Gauge

Updated July 14

Fishing well on large attractor dries (gold, purple, and royal Chubbies) with stonefly nymph droppers or smaller caddis-type attractors like Trudes or Clacka Caddis with Prince or caddis pupa droppers. Good tan caddis hatches are occurring in the evenings. The ticket until water drops below about 5000cfs (currently 7400) is to get your flies CLOSE to the bank. Often two feet off the bushes or especially bankside boulders is 18 inches too far out.

Yellowstone River, Carbella to Mayor’s Landing (Paradise Valley and the “Town Section”)

Livingston

Updated July 14

Still high and not as “structured” as the water upstream, so the dry fly fishing except for the evening caddis hatches is not as dependable. That said, now is a great time for the “Chubby-Rubby” big fish bite (Chubby Chernobyl or similar huge attractor with a large stonefly nymph on a long dropper), as well as dead-drifting a streamer with a caddis pupa dropper under an indicator. The dry fly and caddis pupa bite will get better as the month progresses and will generally be better in the afternoon and evening.

Yellowstone River, Mayor’s Landing to Laurel

Springdale, Big Timber

Updated July 14

Just dropping into shape and will fish like the Paradise Valley reach. Don’t go if you’re not good on the oars, as the river is “pushy” down here.

Small Streams

Updated May 24

Too high even if they are clear until at least early July, and the best fishing will be in August this season.


Madison River Drainage

Madison River, Hebgen Lake to Quake Lake

Updated May 24

Clear and very crowded above Cabin Creek. Fish nymph combos and bring your elbows to find a place to fish.

Madison River, Quake Lake to Ennis Lake

Below Quake Lake, Near Cameron

Updated May 24

Very high and off-color but fishable above the West Fork. Blown below. Fish stoneflies, worms, and streamers.

Madison River, Lower

Below Ennis Lake

Updated May 24

High but fishing okay, particularly above Cherry Creek. Worms and crayfish under bobbers are the top bet, but Mother’s Day Caddis and BWO are also possible.

Hebgen and Quake Lakes

Updated May 24

Fishing well on a variety of stillwater “junk flies:” chironomids, Callibaetis nymphs, small streamers, San Juan Worms, Adams, and the like. Sight-fish when you can.


Private Lakes

Story Lakes

Updated June 02

Walter had a trip here yesterday. The fishing on the upper lake was tough due to howling wind and cold rain that pushed most fish out of the shallows and made sight-fishing for the few that remained impossible. His client hooked one big fish but lost it. The lower lake was out of the wind and fished great on chironomid pupae after lunch, with the beginner client landing six or eight fish (most 13-14″) and missing or losing twice that many in 2.5 hours. One big fish peeled off about forty feet of line before straightening the hook. We’d have liked to have gotten that one in the net… An experienced angler might have had some dry fly chances, though the rises were just far enough apart that it would have been hard. We expect the chironomid and shallow nymph fishing to return to normal on the upper lake in a few days, with warmer weather in the forecast.

Merrell Lake

Updated May 24

No recent reports.

Burns Lake

Updated June 2

The Callibaetis hatches have started here, and the chironomid fishing is also good. Too bad this property is 90 miles from us, or we’d really push our guided trips there. As it is, we’ve only got one trip booked here this season so far.


Spring Creeks

Armstrong’s, Nelson’s, Depuy

Updated June 14

PMD hatches are just starting, but PMD nymphs are certainly a good choice. About to go to $120/day rates because of the PMD hatches. Absent a hatch, sight-nymph or cover water with streamers. This will be challenging fishing, but rewarding.


Other Montana Waters

Missouri River, “Land of Giants”

Updated May 24

Too high to fish on foot, but if you have a jet boat and like to dredge nymphs deep deep deep, will be quite good on sowbugs, scuds, worms, and Czech Nymphs. Too bad this is so far from us…

Walter is running jet boat trips here through June this season, with a special rate of $875 for a day and a half or $525 for a single day of fishing. If you’ve never fished this water and want the chance at lots of 18-inch (and bigger!) fish, give us a call.

Missouri River, Holter Dam to Cascade

Updated May 24

Running at 16,000cfs, which is as high as this water has been since 2011. That said, it’s clear. Nymph the soft water near the banks using big San Juan Worms and sowbugs. You will lose a lot of flies. No real bank fishing at this flow; you need a drift boat.