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.”
It’s looking good, folks. The past few days have been downright cold here in Livingston (probably colder at the shop in Gardiner), with snow each morning. This is helping the Yellowstone drop and clear. By the weekend temps are forecast to rise to around 60 degrees in the afternoons, which is warm enough to help the caddis get popping (especially with sunshine) but not so warm that it’ll bring down high elevation snowmelt. If you’ve got any flexibility in your schedule, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get here Sunday and stay the whole week after, hitting the Yellowstone when it’s game-on and the lower Madison if the Yellowstone gets muddy…
Yikes. This has probably been the coldest February since I started spending the winters in Montana back in 2006-2007. It’s certainly the first time I remember February being both colder and snowier than January.
Here’s a still taken from the webcam near Pine Creek.
See that shelf on the right side of the image? Ice. See the white haze down the middle of the river? Ice. See the island at mid-screen? Mostly ice. See the channels upstream? Almost all ice.
Most of the river is in this sort of shape right now. With air temperatures of late ranging from the single digits below zero up to about 20 degrees, and more of the same in the future, don’t expect much change until at least March 10.
If you want to fish the Yellowstone, your only options for the foreseeable future are the mouths of the Gardner River or Depuy Spring Creek. Otherwise, stick to the spring creeks themselves.
This is actually a very unusual state of affairs. While floating is still out in late February almost every year, we’ve frequently got mostly open river except for ice jams along many banks. The fishing is often very good in the long, deep, midriver runs now, with some midge activity on calm, warm afternoons, but good nymphing any day temps are above freezing. Not right now. I’ll update the overall fishing report (click above) when things change.
This cold is doing wonders for the snowpack. We’re at about 98-104% of normal in all our important drainages. Expect these numbers to jump 5-10% over the upcoming week, with heavy snow in the forecast. I’ll be posting a full update on the snowpack around March 10, but suffice it to say that it is looking more and more likely we’ll have normal snowpack (or so) for 2019.
I (Walter) will be giving a fly tying demo at Peak Fly Shop in Colorado Springs, CO, on Saturday February 2, from 10AM until noon. I’ll be tying “Tourist season flies for the Yellowstone River,” with a heavy emphasis on dry flies.
Looking for copies of my books? I’ll have them available for a discounted rate, cash-only.
Hope to see you there!