Yellowstone River Fly Fishing Report August 23rd, 2020
Hopper season continues! Our terrestrial season in Paradise Valley is continuing to provide great fishing here on the Yellowstone River. We are seeing lots of mature hoppers on the banks and in the river. These cool nights and mornings are certainly slowing the hopper bite early in the day, but as the sun gets high and the banks warm up those bugs are making their way onto the water. Best hopper bite seems to be between 1pm and 5pm. With that being said, different days are going to shorten or extend that window. Hot hot days with a bit of wind are going to be what you are looking for. Overcast mornings are going to shut things down if you’re out there to throw hoppers.
We’ve been seeing more and more big bugs on the banks, but they aren’t fishing all that well here in the valley. We’d recommend still running those #12 & #10 hopper patterns as that seems to be what most fish are looking for. I did have a great fish eat a #6 hopper but that was the only eat we got on it. Size down and you’ll increase your chances. If you’re heading out east of Livingston, that is where those big patterns should work best. Tan and pink are the colors to run right now for the hoppers. Folks are running double dries or dry droppers and having success. If you’re going to go subsurface, shorten it up and fish a #14 Prince Nymph, PT or Hare’s ear. Ants are starting to become more reliable as a dropper as well. #16 LRO ants, Bloom’s Para-ant and Galloup’s Ant Acid are all great to drop off the back of a hopper this time of year.
Nocternal golden stoneflies are definitely still active. If you’re getting out in the mornings that will be the best bug to fish on top. #10-12 chubby chernobyls are a good imitation that time of day. Fishing a tan or brown #10 Pat’s rubberlegs is a good move too. Be sure to look for casings along the riffles to ensure that there are golden stones in the stretches you are fishing. We seem to be finding them in the fast riffles or outside banks.
Some of our guides have also reported that they’re seeing baetis on the upper stretches of the river. In the early morning, look for rising fish in back eddies and slower slicks of water. It shouldn’t be the first thing you plan to fish but is certainly a good option if things are getting slow!
Traffic on the river seems to be slowing a bit as the summer season is winding down. As always, use your best etiquette when out on the water. We’ve still got warmish water, typically around 67 degrees at mid day, so please be conscious when handling fish. This is an extremely stressful time of year. As much as we enjoy fish pics, we like to be able to see those fish again later on down the road. Snap a pic of fish in the net and if you must get the grip n’ grin, get out of the boat and take it quick and keep those fish out of the water for as little time as possible.