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 August 17, 2019

Terrestrial fishing remains the name of the game just about everywhere, though a few fall late summer and fall mayflies are drawing rises on some streams in the mornings, and the first cool and wet weather will bring out the first of the fall BWO and Tan Drake (Hecuba or Drake Mackeral) hatches. There are also a few caddis and Yellow Sally and Nocturnal Stoneflies stumbling around. Only the latter (matched with big hopper patterns) on rough rivers need be imitated.

Crowds are still high, but late August is actually a less-busy time in Yellowstone Park than early September is, so if you’re stuck fishing roadside water, the crowds won’t be quite as awful as they were a few weeks ago.

Top Fisheries in MT: Yellowstone River, all the way from Gardiner to Columbus, small mountain streams outside the park.

Top Fisheries in YNP: Yellowstone River, Grand and Black Canyons, Gardner River, rough portions of the Lamar River.

Detailed Water-by-Water Yellowstone Park and Montana Fishing Report

Yellowstone Park Fisheries

Upper Yellowstone River Fishing Report – Updated August 16

Fish numbers are on the decline as the big lake-run cutthroats head back to Yellowstone Lake. Your best tactic will be to cover a lot of water with streamers, though if you spot a rising trout by all means change flies umpteen times until you figure out what he’s eating.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River Fishing Report – Updated August 16

Definitely a hopper fishery now. You can fish some of the biggest ones in your box, provided you get away from easy accesses, especially since there are also some Mormon Crickets out and about. Drop a modest-sized stonefly nymph (20-Incher), a large attractor nymph, or even a small Woolly Bugger. Ants and small mayfly-style attractors (purple or copper in color) are also good choices.

Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River Fishing Report – Updated August 16

Similar to Grand Canyon, though particularly near the downstream end near Gardiner you should expect smaller terrestrials (small hoppers and ants) to work better than the big hoppers. Some Tricos are out in the mornings, but you can usually match them with a small purple mayfly cripple. The ant bite has been solid, and the BWO nymph bite should ramp up over the next few days.

Gardner River Fishing Report – Updated August 16

Fishing well now top to bottom. Above Osprey Falls, fish attractor dry/dropper combos away from the easy accesses (hike a mile or more) for abundant brook and a few rainbow trout. Same deal for the upper river tributaries. Below Osprey, fish modest-sized hoppers with small but fast-sinking attractor nymphs on the droppers. Otherwise, either fish attractor and stonefly nymphs in tandem (Euro-nymphing is an excellent tactic). This is one place you can do well first thing in the morning. After lunch, the fishing will be better between Osprey Falls and Boiling River than it is below Boiling, except perhaps in the roughest water aka “The Chutes,” which can fish well in the evenings.

Lamar River Fishing Report – Updated August 16

Very crowded in the meadows but fishing throughout. Look for Little Green Drake, late PMD, and early BWO hatches in the flat water, or fish large attractor/dropper combos in the Lamar Canyon. Hoppers and ants are good bets now anywhere. A few midges and Tricos are starting to make their appearances. The midge game can be the only thing happening first thing in the morning. Make sure to give other anglers a minimum of 100 yards here.

Slough Creek Fishing Report – Updated August 16

Ants, beetles, bees, and the weirdest hoppers in your boxes are what you want here. Maybe some spruce moths near timber. Fragmentary hatches of assorted mayflies ranging from Green Drakes to Tricos are possible, especially in the Third or Second Meadow.

Soda Butte Creek Fishing Report – Updated August 16

Overwhelmingly crowded. It is usually difficult for more than a single angler to find room to fish here. If you decide to join the crowds that often jam two or three to a pool barely large enough for one, look for the same hatches and terrestrial fishing mentioned above for Slough and the Lamar. The Little Green Drakes are the best hatch this time of year here. It can be necessary to nymph the deepest runs with skinny-bodied midge pupae (Zebra Midge) and mayfly nymphs here, due to the pressure.

Firehole River Fishing Report – Updated July 10

Too warm below Old Faithful closure zone. Above, use normal small stream tactics.

Gibbon River Fishing Report – Updated July 10

Too warm below Norris. Between Virginia Cascade and Norris, fish attractor dry/dropper combos. There is better water closer for this tactic.

Madison River in YNP Fishing Report – Updated July 10

Too warm.

Gallatin River in YNP Fishing Report – Updated July 22

Check with shops in West Yellowstone and Big Sky. Why would we drive 3hrs when we have great fishing right outside the door?

Other Waters in YNP Fishing Report – Updated August 16

The small, rough streams are now offering their best fishing of the season, regardless of species mix. Just get a half-mile away from roadside access or fish steep creeks down in nasty canyons. The meadow-type brook trout creeks are starting to drop off and usually get tough around the first of September. Expect to have to walk a minimum of half a mile to find fish in these waters now.

Most lakes in YNP are in their summer doldrums. Best fish streams.

Montana Fisheries

Yellowstone River Fishing Report – Updated August 16


The Yellowstone River has been producing its best hopper fishing in close to a decade this season. Top colors have been various shades of gold and yellow, pink, and flesh. Depending on whether you’re after a lot of fish or big ones, fish tiny hoppers (numbers of trout) or the biggest ones we stock (big trout). Copper-colored mayflies (or purple ones on cloudy days) and both cinnamon and bicolor ants are also working. We aren’t really fishing nymphs on the Yellowstone right now except when guiding beginners. Red-brown mayfly nymphs have been best in these cases.

Early in the mornings the trout might be in the bouldery, walking-speed runs, but for the most part we’re still finding most fish in the small slow spots in fast water, especially along steep banks. This will remain the case while water temps remain from 62-67 degrees, as they have been on the whole river. Once temps begin dropping into the 50s, the trout will start moving into the slower seams at the tops of larger pools.

Paradise Valley Spring Creek Fishing Report – Updated August 16

Generally between heavy hatches. Ants, sight-nymphing, and occasional scattered hatches of this or that midge or tiny mayfly will bring up a few fish.

Yellowstone Valley Private Lakes Fishing Report – Updated July 22

Poor choice until September

Boulder River Fishing Report – Updated August 16

Too low to float, but will fish well up above Natural Bridge if you’re making the drive. Fish small hoppers and attractor dries.

Stillwater River Fishing Report – Updated August 16

Big brother to the Boulder, this fast-flowing river about 80 miles east of Livingston is now our main alternate float river to the Yellowstone. Fishing well below Jeffrey’s Landing on hoppers, but starting to get pretty bony for floating. About another two weeks and this one will be too low, too.

Upper Madison River Fishing Report – Updated July 22

Supposedly good, but too far away with good fishing out our door.

Lower Madison River Fishing Report – Updated August 3

Way too warm.