Happy August everyone! It seems that summer passes faster and faster each year. Especially this year as we are a month late for Yellowstone! Things are shaping up to be a great August here in Livingston!
YELLOW STONE RIVER
The Yellowstone River flows at just over 4,000 cubic feet per second at the city gauge at the time of this writing. It has been on a steady decline and is slightly below average for this time of year. It’s getting to a point where while there’s still plenty of water, it’s certainly manageable for recreational floatation. Just note the new currents, eddies, obstructions and channels after the flooding earlier this year. We are getting a lot of reports of debris in the water, and that will continue as things continue to fall.
The temperature of the water is something to consider. The river has reached 70 degrees in the afternoon every day since the 29th. A look at the forecasts ensures that this upward trend will continue for at least a while. Daytime highs in the 90s make a float sound like a great option, but keep in mind that these higher water temperatures put a lot of stress on the fish. We blogged about keeping fish safe in high water temperatures last summer, so it’s a good time to review the principles. Read it here.
The fishing has been best in the morning until 10:30 or 11, and then again at night. We’re seeing a ton of nocturnal stoneshells on the banks, and fishing for a big chubby or stonefly pattern early in the morning can be very productive. Hang some rubber feet on the back and hold on. There have been Yellow Sallies scattered around, and afternoon caddis too. If that doesn’t work, the Earthmen will bring fish by hand. While grasshoppers are immediately what everyone thinks of, ants and beetles can be even more productive.
The nymph has been more productive than the dry one, as always happens at this time of year. Stonefly patterns or dead streamers drifting like a spike fly can attract larger fish and draw attention to a smaller dripper. Try something like a copperfish, pheasant tail, caddis pupa, firefly, or something similar. You’ll find plenty of white fish below the surface, but also a fair amount of trout.
Lots of people are trying out hoppers these days, and there are plenty of them all over the place. The fish have not yet tuned in to them, but you can definitely give it a try! It should be any day now. They are a great indicator fly for a smaller nymph if you want to fish in two areas at once. We have some great patterns available in the store this year. They always sell out fast, don’t wait!
August is usually a month when things slow down drastically on the Yellowstone River. This year is going to be very good.
The Lower Madison remains under a Hoot Owl closure and will be through the end of the summer. Given the number of tubers and recreationists on this stretch, give it a rest. There are plenty of other great options around.
The Upper Madison continues to fish very well. There are options for floats and waders, but keep in mind that it is very busy this time of year. Fish early or fish late. The stoneflies are ready, but there are enough caddis, some yellow and ground outlets to keep you pretty busy. If you don’t feel like playing with the river, try finding swallows at Ennis Lake.
***UPDATE*** As of 8/1/22, FWP has enacted a Hoot Owl closure from the 8-mile fishing access to Lake Ennis. There is no fishing from 2 pm to midnight!
The Gallatin River is much closer than the Madison and still fishes well. We would not fish anywhere below the Axtel Bridge, and anywhere in the Canyon would be our destination. From the mouth of the Canyon to Big Sky there is quite a lot of movement, as it always is in summer. Not only is the river quite small with lots of easy car access (pros and cons no doubt), it is a popular whitewater rafting float.
If you want some solitude, keep driving to West Yellowstone. Fishing pressure on the Gallatin River drops immediately beyond Big Sky Meadow and once you cross into Yellowstone Park it drops even lower. Note that you will need a Yellowstone fishing license if you are that high.
This time of year is usually all about spruce moths, but they haven’t really been around this year. Mullet have come and gone, but you’ll find caddis in the afternoon as the main hatch. Given the faster flowing nature of this river, general attractors such as Humpies, Royal Wulffs, Purple Haze, etc. they work fine. The terrestrials are also at stake here…
Keep an eye on the water temperature and fish early or late. Not only is this better for the fish, but it will also beat the crowds. Win win everywhere!
BOULDER RIVER AND TO THE EAST
We’ve had a lot of people in the store recently who were headed to the Boulder River or the eastern waters. Boulder can be a good option in the summer and is a great place for dry flies and attractors. There’s still a decent amount of water at this point and wading can be a bit tricky, especially in the lower reaches. Be aware of property lines and stay below the high water mark. If you’re driving upriver, be prepared for some bumpy driving, but hitting your car could be a nice reward.
For other waters in our region, many of them are warming beyond a point where we feel comfortable recommending fishing. Pay attention to water temperatures and flow. Irrigation is being implemented throughout the state and the waters are running out with it. With all the great options closer to home, we recommend sticking with that one.
The end of summer is the time to be in the mountains. The trails are dry, the small streams and upland lakes are still frozen, and the trout are hungry. As we have written in previous reports, there are hundreds of lakes and hundreds of miles of small streams in our region that contain trout. Go explore. Don’t get too caught up in finding the “perfect spot”. Look at a map, bring some flies and have fun.
One of the joys of small water is the lightness of the packaging. Really all you need is what you see below. If you’ve ever wondered why you might need a 3wt rod, here it is.
STORE AND LIVINGSTON
August is a great month to visit southwestern Montana and Livingston. This is the time of year when hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking are in full swing and fishing will shut down this August. There’s also plenty to do in Livingston: live music, community gatherings, farmers’ markets…there’s always something to do!
Our store has everything you need to stay hydrated, comfortable and safe on the river and in the woods. It’s hot, so don’t forget to bring a bottle of water and UV-blocking clothing. Sun t-shirts are a great option this time of year for any outdoor activity. Come shop our late summer selection of bugs and grasshoppers while we’re still well-stocked.
Thanks for reading and see you on the water!
Cooney Reservoir via Montana Fishing Addicts 2.0 (Aug 2, 2022)
T. Bohannon: He was there 2 weeks ago going 10-15 feet. With purple or yellow flashes and perch colored crank.
D. Humphrey: No need to go that deep, I would start where the streams come together around the weeds in 10-15 feet
J. Mueller: We hit them with dead cowbells. Silver is my option. Although, neon colors work too. Rainbow is good. You have to make sure you go fast enough. 1.5 to 2 mph. Slower, we get nothing.