Montana and Yellowstone Park Fishing Report

Montana and Yellowstone Park Fishing Report

Access is still very difficult to Yellowstone Park from Gardiner, though we are able to run long full-day guided trips with advance notice and clients willing to meet no later than 6:45AM. Fishing has been good and crowds are down. Otherwise, public access to the waters INSIDE Yellowstone Park noted below requires entering the park from West Yellowstone, since the North Entrance Road is still closed due to flood damage. The Park Service is aiming to have some form of near-normal public road access via the emergency “Stagecoach Road” available by October 15, with public access available through the winter and next season (though full replacement of the North Entrance Road may take several years).

Yellowstone River Outside the Park: Near Gardiner, the river is fishing well on ants, hoppers, small attractor dries, and mayfly-style attractor nymphs like Gussied Lightning Bugs and Frenchies. Further downstream, these same flies will work (particularly on gray days), but dead-drifting streamers may be more productive, especially when it’s sunny. If you’re running a nymph dropper downstream of Carbella Access, make it a long one. Three feet is best. This allows you to get into bankside slots 2–4 feet deep that the bobber-slinging masses will miss. Some accesses on the Yellowstone are out of commission, including Brogan’s Landing and 26-Mile within 30 minutes of our shop, but normal full-day and half-day float trips are available.

National Forest Creeks Near Gardiner: Bear, Mol-Heron, Big, and Mill Creeks are all fishing well. Footing is rough and in some cases (Bear) very steep, so these aren’t for everybody. Afternoons are best. Fish attractor dries or medium-sized Bob Hoppers with Prince or other generic nymph droppers.

Yellowstone River In YNP: Canyon stretches are fishing well on hopper-dropper and streamer rigs. Pressure has been light, but it’s still best to burn some boot leather since access to the Yellowstone is much easier than access to areas out the NE Entrance Road like Slough. Pulses of mud from scattered thunderstorms in the wrong spots have marred things from time to time.

Gardner River: The lower river below Boiling River is too warm and have limited access due to flood damage to the roads. Areas upstream from Lava Creek are accessible and fishing well. Fish hopper-dropper rigs or Euro-nymph with a stonefly and an attractor nymph. The latter tactic can bring up some big browns (their numbers will increase as the weather cools), but most of the classic “runner pools” where lots of these early fall-run browns could be found have been destroyed by the June flood, so the big boys will be much more scattered than they used to be.

Slough Creek: Accessing Slough requires some jumping through hoops with the Park Service since access into the Lamar River Valley is limited and quite restricted due to road damage to the park’s NE Entrance Road starting just NE of the Slough Creek turnout. This has limited the traffic and made fishing VERY good, even in the flat water “VIP Pools” which are usually among the hardest fisheries in the park. Fish ants, midges, and very small attractor dries. Beetles and small hoppers are also good choices now, and you might see limited mayfly hatches of various kinds if skies are gray. Note that access to the Lamar River upstream from the Slough Creek Campground Road and all of Soda Butte Creek is closed due to flooding damage to the road.

Other YNP Waters: Most small brook trout creeks are slowing down fast. The Madison near the park’s west gate will turn on as the water cools. The Gallatin should be fishing well with spruce moths, hoppers, and ants, but will be even busier than usual since it will be taking up a lot of the Lamar’s slack. For those staying near Old Faithful, the headwaters of the Firehole are good bets. Otherwise, the geothermal water in the western part of the park will probably still be too warm for about three weeks.