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.


The Short and Sweet Version

Updated March 31

The Yellowstone River, Madison River, Missouri River, Paradise Valley Spring Creeks, and the smaller private lakes in our region are now in the midst of their excellent spring fishing! If it gets warm and sunny, you may need to dodge some runoff on the Yellowstone, but all of the other waters are open and fishing pretty well. Most of the fishing is subsurface and will remain this way until summer, but this is an excellent time of year to hunt up some real pigs on nymphs and streamers. On the Yellowstone and Madison, target the moderate-speed, deeper runs with stonefly nymphs, large attractor nymphs, dead-drifted streamers, egg patterns, and even San Juan Worms. The latter are particularly good choices when the water is slightly off-color, in which case they “match the hatch.” On the Missouri, think pink: pink Lightning Bugs, pink scuds, pink Czech Nymphs. You get the idea. BWO nymphs and midges might also work. These are also the best options on the spring creeks, but don’t hesitate to fish tiny San Juan Worms and eggs in the deeper water on the creeks. Avoid the spawning areas and any redds outside the spawning areas, as well. You may see some BWO and midge hatches on the creeks. These dry fly opportunities will be best on calm, cloudy days with temperatures in the 40s and 50s.

Yellowstone National Park remains closed to fishing until the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend!


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

Please note: if you are reading this report in a business other that Parks’ Fly Shop as a printout without a prominent placard placed above the report identifying it as belonging to Parks’ Fly Shop, the business displaying the report is doing so without our permission and is violating our copyright. This paragraph is here because some area businesses (not any of the fly shops) have been printing our report and using it to sell fishing tackle, all without our permission or identifying explicitly where they got the report.

Yellowstone River Above the Lake and Lake to Falls

Yellowstone Lake Outlet

Updated November 6

Closed!

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

Updated November 6

Closed!

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

Updated November 6

Closed!

Yellowstone Drainage Small Streams

Updated November 6

Closed!

Yellowstone Drainage Lakes and Ponds

Updated November 6

Closed!


Lamar River Drainage

Lamar River

Lower Lamar

Updated November 6

Closed!

Soda Butte Creek

Silver Gate (Park Boundary)

Updated November 6

Closed!

Slough Creek

Updated October 7

Too low and cold from here on out.

Trout Lake

Updated November 6

Closed!

Small Streams

Updated November 6

Closed!


Gardner River Drainage

Gardner River Above Osprey Falls (Including Tributary Creeks)

Updated November 6

Closed!

Gardner River, Osprey Falls to Boiling River

Updated November 6

Closed!

Gardner River, Boiling River to Yellowstone River

Just Below Boiling River

Updated November 6

Closed!

Lakes

Updated November 6

Closed!


Madison River Drainage Inside YNP

Please note: this drainage is infested with New Zealand Mud Snails, an invasive species that poses a large threat to other river drainages in the region. Please clean your gear between fishing this drainage (especially the Firehole) and fishing elsewhere. This website includes information on how to effectively clean your gear.

Madison River in Yellowstone Park

Near West Yellowstone

Updated November 6

Closed!

Firehole River

At Old Faithful, Lower River

Updated November 6

Closed!

Gibbon River

At Madison Junction

Updated November 6

Closed!

Grebe & Wolf Lakes

Updated November 6

Closed!


Snake River Drainage

Snake River

Updated November 6

Closed!

Lewis River

Updated November 6

Closed!

Lewis and Shoshone Lakes

Updated November 6

Closed!


Gallatin River Drainage Inside YNP

Gallatin River

Updated November 6

Closed!

Small Streams

Updated November 6

Closed!


Montana Fisheries

Yellowstone River Drainage

Yellowstone River, Gardiner to Carbella (Upper Yellowstone)

Yellowstone River Webcam, Corwin Springs Stream Gauge

Updated March 31

Fishing well when it’s clear. Most of the low-elevation snow is gone now and temps have moderated back to seasonal averages, so the river is on a clearing trend. Stonefly nymphs trailing attractors, worms, or eggs will bring the most fish. You might find a few fish rising to midges, particularly in the foamlines near warm water sources like Laduke Hot Spring.

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

Livingston

Updated March 31

Paradise Valley is generally less interesting pre-runoff than other sections of the Yellowstone. I suggest fishing closer to Gardiner, in and around Livingston, or east of Livingston, at least until the water comes up a few thousand cfs and concentrates the fish in this section a bit.

Yellowstone River, Mayor’s Landing to Laurel

Springdale, Big Timber

Updated March 31

The same flies mentioned for the upper Yellowstone will work here too, but hatches are probably slightly more likely. This is also great water to chuck big articulated streamers in this time of year, hoping for one or two big eats from a monster brown.

Small Streams

Updated March 31

Too cold, too low, and the rainbows are spawning. May the trout gods smite you if you harass them. Check back on the little creeks in late July.


Madison River Drainage

Madison River, Hebgen Lake to Quake Lake

Updated March 31

Still a long drive to get there from here until the park roads begin opening in mid-April, but the fishing is good. Midges and San Juan Worms are great choices now. BEWARE REDDS! The easiest places to wade are often the places you don’t want to do so. It makes no sense to release the big fish while walking on hundreds of eggs.

Madison River, Quake Lake to Ennis Lake

Below Quake Lake, Near Cameron

Updated March 31

Fishing well on stonefly nymphs and San Juan Worms. You can also expect some BWO and midge hatches if you hunt for them.

Madison River, Lower

Below Ennis Lake

Updated March 31

Excellent choice from now through June. Stonefly nymphs, midges, and BWO will bring the numbers now, but big streamers might turn a big dog.

Hebgen and Quake Lakes

Updated March 31

Still frozen, but you wouldn’t want to walk on the ice…


Private Lakes

Story Lakes

Updated March 31

This is the best lake option for now. Leeches are your best bets. Rod fees went up to $80 this year.

Merrell Lake

Updated October 7

Fishing very well on leeches. This has been our best private lake fishery this autumn and arguably the best float fishery. We still have one or two trips planned here.

Burns Lake

Updated September 7

Fishing well as long as the wind isn’t howling. Think leeches in the mornings and Callibaetis from midday on. Hoppers are still possible on nice afternoons.


Spring Creeks

Armstrong’s, Nelson’s, Depuy

Updated March 31

The $40 winter rate continues through mid-April and it’s a bargain. The creeks are your best option if you’re hoping for dry fly action. The best fishing will be with midge pupae, egg patterns, small San Juan Worms, and small, slender mayfly nymphs in the turbulent, deeper water, but don’t hesitate to cover a lot of water with streamers. If you start seeing fish rise, they’ll be eating midges or BWO. Avoid spawning areas! DePuy usually marks these off with orange flagging, but if you see fish in shallow water over clean (algae-free, lighter-colored) gravel, let them do their business in peace. There’s plenty of fish that haven’t started spawning, aren’t spawning, or are already done in the deeper water.


Other Montana Waters

Missouri River, “Land of Giants”

Updated March 31

Walter’s trips here start next week and go through mid-June. There’s a very big reason he goes walkabout to guide here in the spring. If you are flexible as to dates, give us a call and Walter might be able to cut you a deal on a trip or two if your dates can dovetail with trips he already has.

Fishing well on egg pattern and assorted pink nymphs: Lightning Bugs, Rainbow Czechs, Missouri Meats, Pink Squirrels, Pink Warriors, etc. Pink stuff and eggs will be the way to go until early May, when BWO and scuds start taking over. Don’t expect any dry fly fishing. This is exceptional water if you’re looking for big fish (Ben got a 27-incher last week). It’s a terrible choice if you want to fish alone. Water that produces 3-5lb rainbows regularly tends to get crowded…

Missouri River, Holter Dam to Cascade

Updated March 31

Similar to Land of Giants section, but the fish will also eat Zebra Midges, WD-40s, assorted Baetis Nymphs, and like streamers. The water is warming gradually here. Once it’s in the mid-40s, the dry fly bite (midges and BWO) will really turn on. There are some risers now, but not many. Walter is running drift trips here in late May. If you’ll be around then, give him a call for a good deal.