Full credit where credit is due: The following is a collaborative Yellowstone River fishing report from Brewer Butler, James Mugele, and Evan Keene. Sweet photo by Whitney Thurber.
The month of February brought some much needed snow to Southwest Montana. The snowpack is now sitting pretty close to 120%. However, with the recent storm and winds we’ve been having, your favorite fishing hole may have been a little snowed in the past few weeks! But if you’re as trout crazed as we are here at Sweetwater Fly Shop, then you probably found a way to the river regardless of the conditions.
Flows on the Yellowstone River are around 1300 CFS, which is pretty average for this time of year. The water is low, so if you don’t want to worry about icy boat ramps, now is a great time of year to experience the mighty Yellowstone on foot. Like I talked about in the January report, trout will often times be found grouped up in very specific water types. (Think warmer water too… hint hint… spring creeks… cough cough…) So a lot of times, you shouldn’t need to cover a whole lot of water to find the fish. “Where there is one, there are many.”
Winter fishing = midges. It sucks, and they’re small, and I never feel like fish would even bother eating them, but they do, and the simplest midge pattern like a black or red zebra midge will soon become your best friend when you are fishing sub-surface in the wintertime.
There is no rush to be on the river these days. Prime time is around 2 PM- the water has a chance to warm up just a few degrees, and this rise in temperature will often spark a decent mid-afternoon Midge hatch (wind permitting). We have been seeing quite a few fish looking up and readily taking dry flies around this time. The midges we have been seeing lately are a little bigger than you would expect- so a size 16 or 18 pattern will suffice. Our favorite midge dries are a Griffith’s Gnat or Renegade.
The boys at the shop sampled the river today at one of our favorite winter spots and we found a LOT of Midges- both the larval and adult stages (with fish responding heavily to adults on the surface). We also found a few good size stonefly nymphs under some rocks near the bank. Evan’s black rubber leg nymph proved to be a wise selection… We also found enough mayfly nymphs to make a small pheasant tail or BWO nymph a worthy fly choice as well. Good luck out there and swing by the shop on your way out to pet the dogs and get the most up to date report!
Brewer’s Top Flies for February:
Dries: CDC Cluster midge, Sprout Midge, Micro Midge, Purple Haze, Renegade, and Griffiths Gnats Sizes 16-18
Nymphs: Two Bit Hooker (Olive and Black), Copper John (Red, copper, and Black), Pheasant Tails, Zebra Midge, Black Beauty Emerger all sizes 16-18. Rubberlegs, Doublebead Stones, 20incher 10-8.
-Worms if you wanna get dirty
Oh, and Dr. Dan got a pretty Yellowstone Cutthroat the other day on a size 20 black Zebra Midge. Go ahead and click the following link if you’d like to see video evidence: February Yellowstone Cutty0