Yellowstone River, MT and Yellowstone National Park Fishing Reports
Updated September 7th, 2023
Yellowstone River, Montana
The Yellowstone River has gone from gross chocolate milk color as of this morning to a beautiful green as of about 2pm. We should be back to floating the Upper and Valley come the morning but do expect it not to be perfectly clear for another day or two due to some mud still escaping the Lamar area. Our top flies have been small tan caddis and small hoppers on the surface while a big rubberlegs and lightning bug have been very productive under the bobber. Streamer season is definitely on with or top colors being yellow, brown, and black!
Yellowstone National Park Waters
As fall begins to settle in and last weekend’s storm has fully pushed through, we are seeing lower and lower nighttime lows cooling the waters and changing the hatches around the park. We can expect to see a full array of fall bugs in the coming days. Drake Mackerels (brown drakes), PMDs, and BWOs should be on everyone’s minds and in everyone’s boxes when coming to the park.
Yellowstone River - Above the Falls: Is closing in on the end of its season with very very few if any migratory fish still in this system. It’s somewhat productive for those few honey holes where the resident fish of this river live but is far from the population we see in July. Swinging buggers and nymphing down deep will be the most productive and if you are able to find sipping fish, ants and matching the hatch with various mayflies will be the ticket.
Yellowstone River - Canyons: Are clearing up quickly post rains and should be fishable come the morning. Expect to be on the tail end of our terrestrial season with small hoppers, beetles, and ants being on the menu. In addition to terrestrials, we are starting to see more and more Drake Mackerels (brown drakes) in the size 12 to 14 range and we expect to see more and more with the coming days.
Gardner River: Is fishing ok, but not as it has in years past. There was a fairly significant landslide yesterday between Boiling River and the boneyard that is periodically adding color to the river. Nymphing has been the most productive method and probably will be until water temps drop a bit more getting the blue wing olive more active. **The Gardner River was possibly the most flood damaged river from last year’s flood and with-it access has been diminished, please refer to YNP Backcountry Closures to assure you are allowed to be where you are. **
Lamar River: Is still muddy at the time of writing this but is expected to clear over the next day or so. Small terrestrials are still on the menu, but we expect to see more and more mayflies coming back with the water temps dropping grey drakes will come in and out just as the blue wing olives depending on the time of day with our most consistent hatch being pale morning duns.
Slough Creek: Is consistent with PMDs and has pitter pattering’s of BWOs and grey drakes depending on the time of day. Terrestrials will still be on the menu mid-day once the sun warms the area. The fish have been a little spooky so lighter longer leaders and tippet are recommended!
Soda Butte Creek: Has probably been the best fishing river over the past week or two with plenty of rising fish looking for PMDs and smaller terrestrials. Beetles and ants have been our hot flies during the afternoon while nymphing mayfly patterns have been extremely effective during the down times between hatches.
Madison River in YNP: Is finally back in play now that the nighttime air temps have dropped bring down the water temperatures with it. Expect to see plenty of caddis and PMDs in the air and for those looking for migrating brown trout you’ll want to nymph and swing through the deeper runs and bottom sides of riffles!
Firehole River: Is also an excellent option now that water temps have dropped off and the fish are under far less external stress. Miller Caddis as well as brown and olive caddis have been prolific with PMDs and BWOs also making appearances.
Gibbon River: Is fishing well and with caddis and PMDs in the lower stretches and BWOs and PMDs a little higher in the system. This river has been a little finicky with the sharp temperature drops from last week’s rain, but we are seeing more and more rising fish each day!
YNP Small Streams: Have slowed down to a crawl with water levels being fairly low and temperatures plummeting from the rains. There are still a few fish to be caught, but you cannot expect the lights out numbers you’ve come accustomed to mid-summer.
YNP Small Lakes: Are fishing excellent with adult Damsel flies and Callibaetis being very consistent throughout the day. We expect these lakes to flip within the next week or two where we will see more and more fish suspended on weed lines but aren’t quite there yet!
YNP Large Lakes: Are dropping in water temperatures, but we have not seen very many fish cruising the shallows quite yet. This should change in the coming couple weeks, but in a general sense most of the population is still quite deep in the water column.
Yellowstone River: The Yellowstone River has gone from gross chocolate milk color as of this morning to a beautiful green as of about 2pm. We should be back to floating the Upper and Valley come the morning but do expect it not to be perfectly clear for another day or two due to some mud still escaping the Lamar area. Our top flies have been small tan caddis and small hoppers on the surface while a big rubberlegs and lightning bug have been very productive under the bobber. Streamer season is definitely on with or top colors being yellow, brown, and black!
Yellowstone Valley Small Streams: Are low and in a general sense not fishing very well. If you have some honey holes in mind, you’ll probably find a few fish, but you can’t expect the prolific numbers we find mid-summer.
Area Private Lakes: :The Callibaetis and damsel hatch are on, and the lakes have been producing quality fish. We have been having lots of success with various methods this month. Stripping small buggers has been our most successful option with callibaetis and hoppers picking up in the afternoons. Chironomid fishing has also been good while in the lulls between hatches.
Paradise Valley Spring Creeks: Are still on for terrestrials and a mixed bag of varying mayfly hatches. Availability is opening up more and more and are a great choice for anglers trying to avoid the crowds!
Dailey Lake: The lake has been stocked this spring and has been fishing well with fish cruising the shorelines making it a good option for wade angler and boaters alike.