Surging snowmelt stemming from the Absaroka high country engorges the Yellowstone with a prolonged early summer deluge, rendering the river largely unfishable through June. This temporary interruption performs essential ecological functions benefitting the entire Yellowstone basin.
The exact duration and timing of the runoff is unpredictable. With over 23 years of experience guiding Yellowstone River fly fishing trips, we expect the river to be fishable once again in late June.
Our guides watch the river closely, waiting for clarity to improve and for flows to drop below 8000 CFS at Corwin Springs, Montana. The river fishes well for the experienced angler at this stage, but conditions are challenging for novice anglers until early July.
The Salmonfly hatch is the one to watch for through the high-water conditions of late June.
Expect to encounter Green Drakes, Golden Stones, and Yellow Sallies.
If the water is green in color and Salmonflies are hatching, the wild Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat Trout will key into them and readily take a large dry fly when presented well, near the bank.
For the lucky anglers fortunate to be fishing near Bozeman when the Yellowstone River drops and clears in late June or early July, there can be great days on the river.
Accurate casts with 6-7’ leaders with heavy tippets and large dry flies will reward the skilled angler. Nymph and streamer fishing action can be productive as well, but anglers tend to lose a lot of flies on hidden structures on the banks.
Floating the Yellowstone River with an experienced oarsmen is the best (and safest) way to cover the fast-moving river.
The ideal, high-water flows are around 6000 CFS for most anglers to expect success, and wading should be reserved for only the most skilled anglers until the river “drops back into” its historical bank.
If the Yellowstone River is fishable through June, it can be challenging but also very rewarding. Instead of trying to get long, perfect drifts, you will find more success with short accurate drifts in the right areas. Use large patterns like Pat's Rubberlegs and Wooly Buggers drifted along the bank.
Leveraging hard-earned knowledge of regional river drainages, our experts guide visiting anglers into alternate fisheries when snowmelt blasts the Yellowstone River.
Madison River fishing trips are a reliable day trip option for anglers of all skill levels during the second half of June.
Anglers fishing Montana in early June should join our Missouri River guides near Craig, Montana.
Missouri River fishing trips are available between late April and mid-June on the stretches between Holter Dam and Cascade, Montana This regional tailwater remains fishable while most of the state is during the runoff season.
The Missouri River is a terrific option during this time of the year and works well as a Yellowstone River “backup” plan during the runoff season of late May and June.
June is a tough month for reliable fishing on the Yellowstone, but Fins and Feathers has a variety of other Montana fly fishing trips available in June. Flexible plans are key to angler success throughout Montana when planning a Montana fly fishing tour in June.