The Yellowstone is the longest free flowing river in the United States. It is a big river with a wild demeanor, and a lot to offer anglers. It is typically my favorite place to be any time of year it is fishable. Most winters it freezes to the point of being unfishable from mid November to mid February. Once the ice is off enough to reach the water it can fish really good until runoff dirties it up. Runoff starts sometime in April most years. It can go through cycles of dirty and clearing water (with fishing usually being outstanding when it is clearing), but runoff is a reality between April and June. The river can clear as early as mid June or as late as late July. Mother nature has the final say in this matter. Snowpack in the mountains, air temperatures, and spring/summer rains are all factors.
It is hard to say that there is a typical day on the Yellowstone. We get some good insect hatches in the spring before runoff, and then again in the late summer and fall. These hatches are not dependable as far as timing and frequency go, but if you happen to be in the right place at the right time you will be rewarded. Good streamer fishing is usually dependent on having the right conditions, but they can happen anytime throughout the season. If all else fails, the nymph fishing in the Yellowstone will be good. From stoneflies to mayflies, caddis, midges, leaches, crawfish, and even sculpin, the Yellowstone is full of prey that can be imitated with a dead drifted fly somewhere down in the water column.
In the past few years, Spey rods appropriately sized for trout fishing have become available. Spey casting and swinging flies for trout can be a blast. The Yellowstone River is custom made for these techniques. These new Trout Spey rods have the ability to cast the largest streamers in your box, or swing tiny soft hackles through pods of feeding fish during a hatch. Catching trout on the swing is pure joy, and something I enjoy teaching people. If you want to learn how to spey cast or work on your spey casting before an upcoming steelhead trip give me a call.