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.

NOTICE: As of May 19, 2017, all anglers fishing in the state of Montana must purchase an Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass in addition to standard Fishing and Conservation Licenses. These passes will be available from all Montana License Agents as well as Montana FWP and cost $2 for residents and $15 for nonresidents.

The Short and Sweet Version

Updated May 24

This is our last report before the YNP Opener, this Saturday May 27. We have included LIKELY conditions for park waters on opening weekend, so pay close attention.

We anticipate high water for the park opener, with only a few lakes and the Firehole River likely suspects for good fishing. The Madison and Gardner will be marginal options.

Yellowstone National Park remains closed to fishing until the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend! All fishing conditions noted for YNP waters are LIKELY conditions for the opener on the 27th.

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 May 24

Closed until July 15.

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

Updated May 24

Muddy with the spring runoff through late June.

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

Updated May 24

Muddy with the spring runoff until early July.

Yellowstone Drainage Small Streams

Updated May 24

Muddy with the spring runoff until early-mid July.

Yellowstone Lake

Updated May 24

Ice has broken up. Look for cruising cutthroat and lake trout in the shallows. Leeches and generic stillwater nymphs are good choices. Try to drop them right in front of spotted cruisers eating in the flotsam near shore.

Other Yellowstone Drainage Lakes and Ponds

Updated May 24

Blacktail Ponds closed until early July. Others sloppy, high, cold, messes until mid-June, then good options.

Lamar River Drainage

Lamar River

Lower Lamar

Updated May 24

Blown out with the spring runoff through about July 10.

Soda Butte Creek

Silver Gate (Park Boundary)

Updated May 24

Blown out with the spring melt until about July 10.

Slough Creek

Updated OMay 24

Blown out with the spring melt until around July 4.

Trout Lake

Updated May 24

Look for cruisers near shore and sight-fish with tiny scuds and nymphs. This will probably be the best/only option in the Lamar Drainage through June, but the fish are very, very spooky.

Small Streams

Updated May 24

Blown out with the spring runoff until early-mid July.

Gardner River Drainage

Gardner River Above Osprey Falls (Including Tributary Creeks)

Updated May 24

Blown with the spring melt until sometime between July 1 and July 15 depending on the water.

Gardner River, Osprey Falls to Boiling River

Updated May 24

Blown with the spring melt and/or too cold (depending on day-to-day weather) through about June 25 to July 1.

Gardner River, Boiling River to Yellowstone River

Just Below Boiling River

Updated May 24

Fishable when weather is cool but dry for several days. Only about one foot of visibility is necessary. Fish stonefly nymphs and large (#8-12) attractor nymphs tight to the banks. This is VERY VERY physically-demanding fishing suited to fit, experienced anglers only.


Updated May 24

Good choices provided you can get to them. Joffee Lake is certainly a good choice. Fish leeches and medium-sized soft hackles and attractor nymphs. You may also see fish rising to chironomids. Fawn Lake may not be ice-free until around June 5. At any rate, the ford over the Gardner River will be dangerous until mid-June. Grizzly Lake will be hard to reach due to muddy trails and snowbanks. The Swan Lake Flat sloughs will be mucky messes but will fish with the same flies noted for Joffee. Note that Swan Lake itself is fishless. The sloughs near the north end of the valley east of the road have brook trout.

Madison River Drainage Inside YNP

Madison River in Yellowstone Park

Near West Yellowstone

Updated May 24

Will be high and off-color, but MIGHT turn out fish on streamers, and will be far less crowded than the Firehole. Best fishing will start here shortly after June 1.

Firehole River

At Old Faithful, Lower River

Updated May 24

By far the best river choice for the first week of the park season. Look for BWO, PMD, and both olive and blond caddis hatches. Mayflies will predominate when it is cool and gray, caddis when it is warmer. Will be high and murky, so subsurface fishing will be best. Fish leeches, Woolly Buggers, and relatively large (#12-14) soft hackles if there’s no hatch. Good hatches will intensify after June 1.

Gibbon River

At Madison Junction

Updated May 24

Will be too high and dirty until about June 5.

Grebe & Wolf Lakes

Updated May 24/p>
Trails and shorelines will be muddy, sloppy, snowy messes until around June 10. Thereafter will be very good fishing with leeches and chironomids.

Snake River Drainage

Snake River

Updated May 24

Blown with runoff until mid-late July.

Lewis River

Updated May 24

Too high and cold until late June, and there will be snowdrifts between you and the water until about then.

Lewis and Shoshone Lakes

Updated May 24

Impossible to access until around June 5, though the ice is starting to come off. The problem is snow along the shorelines. Trails to Shoshone Lake will be snowcovered until at least June 25 this year.

Gallatin River Drainage Inside YNP

Gallatin River

Updated May 24

Blown with runoff until late June or early July.

Small Streams

Updated May 24

Blown with runoff until late June or early July.

Montana Fisheries

Yellowstone River Drainage

Yellowstone River, Gardiner to Carbella (Upper Yellowstone)

Yellowstone River Webcam, Corwin Springs Stream Gauge

Updated May 13

In runoff and unlikely to clear before July 1.

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


Updated May 13

In runoff and unlikely to clear before July 1.

Yellowstone River, Mayor’s Landing to Laurel

Springdale, Big Timber

Updated May 13

In runoff and unlikely to clear before July 10. This water stays high and burly longer than upstream sections.

Small Streams

Updated May 13

In runoff. Will run clear by July 1 but will be too high to fish effectively before July 15.

Madison River Drainage

Madison River, Hebgen Lake to Quake Lake

Updated May 13

Muddy at least from Cabin Creek down.

Madison River, Quake Lake to Ennis Lake

Below Quake Lake, Near Cameron

Updated May 13

Muddy, particularly below the West Fork.

Madison River, Lower

Below Ennis Lake

Updated May 13

Muddy but will clear this week due to cooler temperatures. Big nymphs, crayfish, San Juan Worms, and the like are your likely suspects, though you may see some caddis or BWO.

Hebgen and Quake Lakes

Updated May 13

No recent reports.

Private Lakes

Story Lakes

Updated May 13

Fishing very well on San Juan Worms and leeches, but the shoreline areas are now warm enough that it’s a good idea to stalk the bank sight-fishing for cruisers. Use small, flashy nymphs and soft hackles under either attractor dries, Callibaetis imitations, or tiny floats if you do this. The lower lake is full of small trout this year, ideal for novices and kids.

Merrell Lake

Updated May 13

Ben had a guide trip here last week and they put 40+ trout in the boat on San Juan Worms and leeches. It looks like last season’s great fishing should continue this year.

Burns Lake

Updated May 13

Callibaetis, chironomid, and damsel hatches are all possible (the latter more likely in a few weeks). Absent a hatch, fish flashy beadheads and chironomids under indicators or just let them drift with the wind.

Spring Creeks

Armstrong’s, Nelson’s, Depuy

Updated May 13

Now on spring rates of $80/day. BWO hatches are beginning to taper off, so your best bet is probably to cover lots of water with streamers. The creeks slip into doldrums from now until mid-June, when the PMD hatches start. You may see some midges or caddis.

Other Montana Waters

Missouri River, “Land of Giants”

Updated May 13

Fishing excellent. While some fish are still fixated on eggs, sow bugs and mayfly nymphs are turning on quickly and you can probably do some good with San Juan and Wire Worms as well. Walter’s trips here at the beginning of the week were great. One angler and 30 or so fish on Monday and two anglers with about 50 fish on Tuesday. On Tuesday we got into a silver-bright ‘bow almost two feet long, while on Monday we got the first big brown of the season. The average fish was over 18 inches. Plenty of prime dates are still available through June. This is our best bet right now.

Walter is running jet boat trips here weekly through the middle of June. 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 13

Running at 7500+ cubic feet per second, which is huge for this water. Closer to 9500 below the Dearborn, though it will drop this week. The big water means Wire Worms and Firebead Sow Bugs are the top tickets, but fish are also eating caddis pupae and slender but flashy mayfly nymphs. Dry fly and streamer fishing is limited due to the vast amount of feed in the water column that is simply adrift due to the high water. This water is very crowded as it is the only clear river that can be fished from a drift boat in the western half of Montana right now.