Just like that we are in August and the Yellowstone River is really starting to feel like itself again. As rocky of a runoff season as we had, we have been on the river for the last few weeks and are seeing some great fishing. Following the wet, cool spring, July was hot and dry as is typical. August often starts out right where July left off, but we are hoping to see a bit of rain in the forecast this month. The river is currently flowing at 3800cfs at Corwin Springs and 3900 in Livingston. Both are slightly below the median historic flow rates to date. Now that the river is running clear for the past 2 weeks plus, it seems that fish are starting to key in on dry flies. Here’s a nice double rainbow catch from the other day. Very typical Yellowstone river- where there’s one, surely a 2nd will smash a fly!
The upper reaches of the Yellowstone have started to see a good dry fly bite during the early hours of the day and last through the mid afternoon. Nocturnal stoneflies are crawling to the banks and fishing Chubby Chernobyls, Waterwalkers and Circus Peanuts has been successful. A few Yellow Sallies are fluttering around as well. Fishing a small stimulator behind a stonefly pattern can be effective once you start seeing those guys flying around. You can also run an Iron Sally, Tactical PMD, or small PT under your dries to imitate those free-swimming Sally nymphs. Fishing stonefly nymphs with a smaller nymph dropper under a bobber has also been effective throughout the day.
The mid-valley and down, the AM hours are significantly better as far as being on the water when the bite is active. Fishing attractor foam flies(Chernobyls, Waterwalkers and Circus Peanuts) with a dropper can be good in the early morning. An oldy but goody -a #12 Parachute Adams can work this time of year if you find fish keyed in on drakes. Lots of folks have been running #10-14 nymphs under their attractor dry flies. As the day progresses and the winds come up, start to listen for those clicking hoppers on the banks. As always, yellow and pink Morrish hoppers can move some great fish this time of year. Don’t be afraid to trail a small beetle or an ant off the back either!
Below Livingston, we are getting reports of decent to good fishing from section to section, day to day. There are plenty of nocturnals emerging and the early morning you can fish stonefly patterns through the riffle corners and along freestone banks. Drop a tan or brown stonefly nymph below an attractor to pick up those fish keyed in on the nymphs crawling to the banks. Later in the day the hopper bite is beginning to pick up. Hoppers are showing up for sure, but there is still a lot of fresh grass for hoppers to feed on away from the river banks. As things continue to dry out, we’ll see those hoppers move closer and closer to the river’s edge . We have gotten word that trout are starting to look for hoppers for sure. Larger Morrish in all colors have been working when fish are keyed in on them. Subsurface fishing has been solidly productive. Stonefly nymphs and larger nymph patterns will put some fish in the net. However, water temps are very much on rise. While the lower river is not on Hoot Owl fishing restrictions, it might not be all that far off. Late afternoon temps are reaching that tipping point of over 70. Like a lot of our Southwest Montana sister rivers, the Yellowstone has dropped to below median flow numbers and warmed considerably under the intense and relentless sun. As daytime temperatures continue to be high, river temps are rising and please be mindful of how you handle fish. Warmer water means lower levels of oxygen for fish. Use heavier tippets. Don’t fight trout for long periods of time, but get them to the net quickly. Keep them in the water. Use a pair of hemostats to quickly remove your already de-barbed hook. Minimize handling the fish period. Let the fish rest and recover in good moving water. And if you need to snap a picture of your catch, please do so responsibly- keep the fish in the water. Or maybe don’t take that photo at all.
Recommended Yellowstone Fly Patterns:
Dry Flies-McKnights Fatboy sz 8, 10; Dornan’s Chernobyl Bug tan 10; Hodek’s Mutant Stone tan 10; Dornan’s Water Walker (lots of colors here, they all work) sz 10, 12; Pig sz 8, 12; Cutty Crack sz 12; Delekta’s Chubbyness UV Cinnamon sz 14; Morrish hoppers- all colors and sizes!; Schroeder’s Parachute hopper tan sz 8-12; Bloom’s para hopper tan sz 10,12; Thunderthighs Hopper yellow, tan, pink sz 10-14; Murray Flying Beetle sz 14; Bloom’s Para flying ant black sz 12-16; Yaeger’s Neversink Trude black sz 12, 14; Royal Humpy sz 12, 14; Parachute Adams sz 12-20, Purple Haze sz 14-18.
Subsurface- TJ Hooker brown/tan or olive/tan sz 10; Pat’s Rubberlegs brown/tan or olive sz 8-12; Marabou Rubberlegs (Pat’s with a marabou tail) camo/olive sz 10-12; Little Spanker PT 14, 16; Soft Hackle PT 12-18; Tungsten SH PT 14-18; Tung Jig Prince 12-16; Tung Jig FB PT 12-18
The shop is open from 7:30am-5:30pm. Feel free to call for a more detailed report or if you have any questions regarding the fishing. Have fun and be safe out there!