There’s still time! The Yellowstone National Park season ends Sunday November 3 at sunset. Here’s where you should be fishing in Yellowstone at the end of the season. Everywhere worth fishing has geyser inputs, due to the recent extremely cold and snowy weather, and most areas have fall-run brown trout. Beware active spawning trout in shallow, gravelly areas. Instead fish the deep, bouldery slots.
Be sure to dress warm. Here’s the forecast for Gardiner. The weekend looks to have the best weather.
The Firehole is where you should be fishing in Yellowstone at the end of the season if you want a decent shot at solid hatches. Temperatures are unlikely to get out of the 30s by the end of the season, but you may encounter Baetis (BWO) hatches in the afternoons. Fish Upbeat Baetis in #20 if you do see risers. Otherwise, the best bet is to fish big nymphs and streamers below the falls for fall-run browns and rainbows.
The Madison inside YNP is where most anglers are fishing in Yellowstone at the end of the season, for good reason. This is the river with the strongest run of fall browns. Fish stonefly nymphs, large attractor nymphs, egg patterns, and streamers. This will be the most crowded area for the end of the season, so be patient and follow the etiquette: start at the top of a run, work your way down one step between each cast, back out, go back to the top, and do it again.
Lower Gibbon River
The Lower Gibbon is a great place for fishing at the end of the season if you want a shot at Madison browns without the crowds. Because the stretch of the Gibbon below Gibbon Falls is rough, it’s best fished with nymphs and eggs except in the largest runs. The crowds but also fish numbers will be lower closer to the falls.
Lower Gardner River
The Gardner below Boiling River is the best choice for fishing in Yellowstone at the end of the season near Gardiner. While the flatter stretches can produce some big browns as well as scattered BWO hatches, the rough water fishes well too. Except during hatches, use stonefly nymphs, egg patterns, attractor nymphs in the #12-16 range, and in the few flat areas medium-sized Woolly Buggers. Beware of stepping on shallow gravel as fish will be spawning in almost all of these areas. One errant step might kill hundreds of eggs.
Runoff Break Incoming (Who’s Up for a River Float?)
Our weather forecast for the next week or so is calling for drastically below normal temperatures. Some days will see highs in the 50s even at low elevations! Runoff is now on the downward track everywhere, so this shot of cold weather is going to temporarily pull our normal summer rivers out of runoff. The Boulder in particular should be ready to float for the season by Monday and will probably not become unfishable again. The Yellowstone will be more marginal, but for anglers who want to “swing for the fences,” these runoff breaks are great times to pound the banks with streamers and stonefly nymphs.
Here’s the graph of predicted streamflows for the Boulder. It is fishable from 3000 down to about 500cfs. 800-2000 is prime. As you can, it’s looking great for next week.
Here’s the graph for the Yellowstone at Corwin Springs. We consider the Yellowstone fishable when it’s at a bit over 10,000cfs at this gauging station, though 8,000 is better.
If the above predicted flows hold out, we expect excellent float conditions for experienced anglers from Sunday the 23rd through the last full week of June, with conditions deteriorating on the Yellowstone in particular for a week or so thereafter.
Availability for Boulder River trips is limited to June 26. Availability for Yellowstone River trips is limited to the 24th-27th and the 29th. Because the above flows are not guaranteed, we would not be willing to accept a float trip booking unless clients are staying in a location (Gardiner, Livingston, Paradise Valley, Mammoth, Bozeman) where they would be able to head over to the Lower Madison for the float if the above doesn’t pan out. Want to roll those dice? We often see some of our best big fish fishing of the year during runoff breaks like those we expect.
This is prime time on area private lakes, which are always at their best in June when area rivers are at their worst. Depending on the lake and the weather, we use a variety of tactics including sight-nymphing, stripping streamers, casting dries to cruising trout, and yes, even watching bobbers. We have three private ranch properties within reasonable range of Gardiner that each offer something different, including a property that had been unavailable for about ten years that just reopened to guided use last week that hosts big browns. The pic below shows Kody with one of five browns in the 21-24″ class that he and Trevor tied into during about two hours of fishing using sight-fishing techniques on June 7, despite tough wind and weather conditions.
We’ve converted two trips over the next couple weeks that were originally booked for something else into lake trips, for obvious reasons.
Yellowstone Opener May 25 — EVERYTHING IS CLEAR!!!
Head on over to our fishing report for full details, but I had to make a note on the blog as well… As of 4:00PM today, Thursday the 23rd, ALL streams in Yellowstone are running clear. This opener could be one for the ages, with not only the usual Firehole and the slightly less-usual Madison and Gibbon fishable, but also Slough Creek, the Yellowstone from the lower Grand Canyon down, the Lamar River, the Gardner, the Gallatin… It’s all good. It will also all get bad as soon as it warms up, so this weekend and early next week will be a good time to get the “trout flu.”
Water Conditions and Runoff Update: Clear* Window on the Yellowstone and Boulder?!!!?!? (* clear enough)
Flows on the Yellowstone and Boulder Rivers are currently nosediving due to drastically below normal temps. This is setting these rivers up for a brief window of clear (clear enough) water over the next week to ten days, particularly during the early to middle part of next week. These mid-snowmelt windows of fishable conditions only occur about one year in three and can produce the best fishing for large trout of the season. This is true for experienced anglers, anyway.
See for yourself.
I do not suggest booking a float trip at this time unless you are prepared to drive to the lower Madison River if things turn out to not follow the predicted flows noted above. That said, keep an eye on things. If the above forecasts do pan out and you can book a float on short notice, I strongly encourage you to consider it for Tuesday or Wednesday, the 28th or 29th.
Note that this same cooldown should make the Yellowstone in its Black and Grand Canyons, Slough Creek, the Gardner, and the Firehole/Gibbon/Madison ALL fishable for the opening weekend of the Yellowstone season, and the few days thereafter. I will post more details on this late in the week.