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Yellowstone River Fly Fishing in Winter

Flyfishing Montana on the Yellowstone River in the Wintertime

Yellowstone River fly fishing in Montana can be challenging during the winter. Massive ice jams and heavy winds are common throughout the river’s trout waters from December – February. Conditions vary from year to year with mild winters being exceptions to this general rule.

There are pockets of water near Gardiner and Livingston that tend to remain free of ice each year and offer reliable fly fishing opportunities on mild days. Check our Montana fishing reports before heading out on a Yellowstone River fly fishing trip in the wintertime.

Yellowstone River Fly Fishing Hatches in Winter

Midges hatch throughout the year and are of particular importance to both trout and anglers fishing the Yellowstone River during the winter months. Calm, overcast February days bring prolific Midge hatches on the Yellowstone River near the spring creeks of Paradise Valley.

Exceptional dry fly fishing and solitude can be found on ideal winter days.

Yellowstone River Fly Fishing Techniques in Wintertime

Nymph fishing using tandem fly rigs under a strike indicator in the slow current will find deep trout feeding near the river’s bottom in the wintertime. Stonefly nymphs followed by midge pupa or small mayfly nymphs are effective patterns for winter fly fishing on the Yellowstone River.

Streamer fly fishing with heavy sinking lines and weighted sculpin patterns can produce trophy Brown Trout in the wintertime. Long, slow swinging retrieves fished deep through the deepest pools give the experienced angler a chance at these legendary fish.

Midge cluster patterns are effective during the winter Midge hatches which bring feeding trout to the surface. Long leaders with delicate tippets in 5X help minimize fly drag which is crucial to angling success with dry flies.

Bozeman Fly Fishing Guide Pro-Tip:

Anglers fishing the Yellowstone River near Livingston during the wintertime can find success in the river stretch just downstream of the Depuy’s Spring Creek culvert even on the coldest days.

Warmer water exiting the spring creek holds actively feeding trout, both on and below the surface throughout the winter months.

Yellowstone River Fly Box for Winter

Yellowstone River Fly Fishing Trips in the Winter

Planning a Montana fly fishing trip during the winter months is a difficult task because of the ever-changing weather. Warmer temperatures in and around Paradise Valley are typically accompanied by heavy winds. Winter ice makes floating the Yellowstone River unsafe until February or March, most years.

The expert Montana fishing guides with Fins and Feathers focus their winter efforts around wade-oriented excursions on the Yellowstone River. Float trips are viable options once the ice clears following warm days in late February or March.

Inquire with our Bozeman fly fishing staff online for availability during the winter months. If the conditions and weather permit, these trips can deliver some terrific outings for experienced anglers.