Montana and Yellowstone Park Fishing Report

Montana and Yellowstone Park Fishing Report

Welcome to Parks’ Fly Shop’s Montana and Yellowstone Park Fishing Report and Blog. Check out the general fishing report below for an overview of what’s going on in our area. Visit our Blog to check out our fly tying videos, podcasts, fishing tips, detailed posts on weather and water predictions for the upcoming season (generally posted in the winter and spring), trip reports from our guides, and fishing, conservation, and fly shop news.

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 and free Montana and Yellowstone Fly Fishing Info Site for lots of free advice on fishing our region.

The fishing report is below the fish.

black canyon cutthroat


Fishing Report

Brrr… it’s cold out there. The Yellowstone River is now starting to get some slush ice in the drift, as well as some anchor ice (ice that starts on the banks and grows out along the river bottom on the rocks, with faster water above) in Paradise Valley. For right now, stick to the spring creeks, take a road trip to the Missouri or Bighorn, or concentrate at the mouth of the Gardner River or other warm water sources.

Regardless of where you fish in the region through the winter, there’s not much point in getting out before about noon.

Yellowstone Park Fishing Report

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK WATERS ARE NOW CLOSED TO ANGLING FOR THE SEASON! THE YELLOWSTONE PARK GENERAL SEASON ALWAYS RUNS FROM THE SATURDAY BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY UNTIL SUNSET ON THE FIRST SUNDAY IN NOVEMBER.

Montana Fishing Report

Yellowstone River: Most of the river is now too cold (icing up) to fish at all. The areas near hot spring discharge (La Duke or the new Yellowstone Hot Spring Resort, which is just La Duke water piped to a pool), areas below the mouths of the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks, and the quarter-mile downstream from the mouth of the hot spring-warmed Gardner River are the only options until the ice clears.

Fish midge pupae and small, flashy mayfly nymphs under indicators for the best numbers. Once in a while something like a dead-drifted Woolly Bugger or sculpin will also work. Hatches are minimal from now (early December) until mid-January, but there’s a small chance of midge emergences for an hour or so at midafternoon. It’s a good idea to fish a midge cripple like our Parachute Midge Emerger when it’s bitter cold, trailing something like a small Trude or a Purple Hazy Cripple, since the real bugs will struggle to get off the water in the cold.

Paradise Valley Spring Creeks: Now an excellent choice and on low winter rates of $40/day/angler. There still may be a handful of spawning browns present, and there will certainly be eggs in the riffles, so watch your step and avoid walking on dish-shaped areas of clean gravel. Fish egg patterns, small/slender San Juan Worms like our new Triple Threat Floss Worm, midge pupae or larvae, and slender mayflies. Medium-sized streamers are also a fair bet all winter here, either fished on a slow swing or a more-aggressive strip retrieve. Hatches will be minimal right now, but could include both midges (fish emergers and shallow pupae) and tiny BWO mayflies.

Lower Madison River: Cold, but not as cold as other area rivers. Fish a crawfish pattern with a BWO nymph in the slow walking speed runs. You can also try swinging small streamers on a light tip. Heavy tips will hang you up every cast most places on this river.

Missouri River: A long way to go, but probably the best water around that doesn’t require an access fee. For numbers, nymph with pink Lighning Bugs, Rainbow Czechs, and assorted similar pink or rainbow-colored subsurface flies resembling scuds, sowbugs, and eggs about equally. Fish the slow walking speed runs. You can also swing “trout spey” type streamers and lightly-weighted buggers.