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


General Yellowstone Park and Montana Fishing Report – Updated January 19, 2020

Believe it or not, despite the cold weather things are beginning to turn around from a fishing perspective here in Yellowstone Country. The days are getting longer and more light is getting into rivers and streams, so the bugs are starting to get slightly more active. This is making the trout get more active, too.

Note that Yellowstone Park is closed to fishing until May 29 this year. The park boundary runs right through the mouth of the Gardner River. No fishing upstream of it.

Four options are open and make sense right now. They’re listed in increasing distance from Gardiner.

1. The Yellowstone River: Right through town is actually the best stretch this time of year. Fish from the bridge up to the mouth of the Gardner River, using midge pupae and small to moderate-size attractor nymphs. Hatches are possible, especially in the 100 yards below the Gardner mouth. Look for midges and tiny BWO. Fishing will be best from 12:30 to 3:30 through the middle of February.

2. The Paradise Valley Spring Creeks: Definitely the most consistent option until early March. Fish midge pupae and tiny mayfly nymphs, or perhaps slender San Juan Worms. On winter rates of $40 per day, which is quite reasonable. Nymph the deep slots. Risers may eat midges on calm afternoons. Because of the warm spring water, the fish may eat all day on the creeks.

3. The Lower Madison River: The lower Madison below the Beartrap Canyon can get icy, but the mile or two below the confluence with Hot Spring Creek is both deep and structured enough to fish. Crayfish imitations, eggs, and assorted pink mayfly nymphs and scuds are as good as the midge pupae here. This one improves steadily as winter starts to wane.

4. Missouri River – “Land of Giants:” While a long haul at 3hr 15min from Gardiner, this is our best late winter and spring option overall. Lots of big rainbow trout live here, and since this is a tailwater (dam-release) river, it never gets as cold as the Yellowstone or Madison. Pink is the name of the game here: Pink Lightning Bugs, assorted pink scuds and sowbugs, and egg patterns. The fishing gets better and better but also more and more crowded until early April, after which it can be kind of a madhouse. Nonetheless, we’ll start running our power boat trips here in March and it’ll be our best big fish option from there through June.