Montana Wild Fly Fishing and Guide
See our first movies:
Second movie added 10/22/04 HOOKUP
- with a little help with my lab Daisy
Bob Meachum relaxes in the
Depuy Spring Creek Spa after a day of
casting little bitty flies.
His casting arm remained locked in the same 11:00 position for two days.
We enjoyed a normal summer in 2004. Pleasant days and
cool evenings. what a pleasure! We also had rain and the Yellowstone experienced
good flows in 2004 flows. This bodes well for future trout populations.
7/9/05, Saturday - After a couple of weeks dry weather
the Yellowstone River has dropped and cleared. The salmon fly hatch has
come and gone in paradise valley. There are remnants of the big flies from
Carbella and upstream into Yellowstone Park where the hatch is full bore.
In the Livingston area caddis flies, little yellow sally
stone flies and pmd's are productive hatches. The next few weeks will generally
be excellent dry fly fishing on the Yellowstone. One does have to keep abreast
of conditions this time of year. Heavy thunderstorm activity in Yellowstone
Park can send volumes of mud down through the system, ruining fly fishing
opportunities. For example there is 80% chance of TDs today so I'll keep
my eye on flows on the Lamar river and Soda Butte Creek in the Park. If
these hydrographs show a sudden upward bump I'd expect muddy water
in the Yellowstone River in a day or so. The duration would depend on the
severity and duration of rain in the park. The river usually clears within
a day or two of thunderstorm events in the Park. But not always. Remember
winter? It'll be back. Get out and enjoy.
6/18/05, Saturday - Summer has finally come to our part
of the country but not before a very cool and wet Spring. The moisture is
welcome in the wake of several drought years. Flows are up on most, if not
all, major drainages in Montana. The Big Horn is flowing around 4,000 cfs...higher
than anytime the past few years. This has resulted in wetting side channels
that have been basically Dry for years. The lower Madison is also flowing
about 4,000 cfs.
The Yellowstone was clearing and fishable early this past
week. I received a report from one local fisherman and guide who fished
the Yellowstone Wednesday and Thursday and did quit well using the big stuff.
However, flow has been on the upswing and Wednesday was better than Thursday
and the river is pretty much out and unsafe now. Our first stretch of warm
weather is now upon us and whatever snowpack is left in the high country
is coming out now. Current flow on the Yellowstone is 13,400 cfs (up about
4,000 cfs in about 3 days) so its rolling and it would be prudent to stay
off the river until it calms down a bit. When the river starts dropping
(any time now) it will be in a clearing mode. Large stone fly patterns and
streamers will be the ticket with the salmon fly hatch just around the corner.
Most reservoirs and lakes are full and fishing is expected to pick up soon
with the current warming trend. Our local Trout Unlimited Chapter is sponsoring
a weed pull today followed by a barbecue at noon. Think I'll stop by and
see if any hamburgers need flippin'.
5/25/05, Wednesday - Drove up the main Boulder River
south of Big Timber Sunday, 5/21. In spite of reports of high and muddy
water, its been my experience that the Boulder rarely is "muddy"
above the Natural Bridge. This proved to be the
case Sunday. Although not snappy clear, the river on Forest Service was
in quite good fishable condition. There were some baetis and/or pale morning
duns hatching and a few caddis. However, the water was cool at 48 F, the
day bright, followed by wind when the sun went behind the mountain so the
fishing was slow. In two hours of fishing (5:00 PM to 7:00 PM), three of
us had a total of 5 hits and one fish on. The real test would have been
to fish all day to learn if the fish worked that day and when.
Wildlife put on a good show for us and made the trip up
the Boulder very much worthwhile. A falcon collected a fat field mouse in
front of us. It happened so fast we did not notice the species of the falcon
sized raptor. We observed a pair of Canada geese ushering a red fox off
"their field" necks stretched and hissing. I filmed five fat cow
elk on the river bottom apparently getting ready to cave. As always there
were plenty of whitetail and mule deer.
Most area streams are high now and dangerous to approach.
Please use every precaution when recreating near streams. Two young men
are presumed drowned in the Yellowstone River this past weekend. Our streams
are beautiful but they are also powerful, beware.
5/17/05, Tuesday - There is an advantage to living
on the banks of the Yellowstone. When conditions are right you can drop
everything and go fishing for two or three hours. The
Yellowstone River was not fishable by fly fishing standards after Friday,
May 5. However we had a cold snap and the river dropped and cleared for
2 or 3 days. The cold snap was accompanied by about two inches of rain last
week. Some areas and the mountains received precipitation in the form of
snow. Lots of snow. The Yellowstone did "clear"
for Friday and Saturday last week and was fishable. I went out Saturday
evening and caught about 10 trout and maybe 15 whitefish. Spent some time
driving around to find working fish. I basically moved upstream from below
town to ten or twelve miles above town. I found more caddis as I moved upstream
and improved fishing. However, conditions also improved with time. The wind
died and the light became less intense. Today flows are approaching 10,000
cubic feet per second (cfs) at Livingston. the Yellowstone is definitely
into its normal spring high flow regimen. We can expect this to last until
around the first of July, plus or minus a few days.
Now is a good to time for fly fishermen to fish ponds,
lakes and reservoirs for trout and for cool and warm water species, as well.
Northern pike, walleye, bass and crappie fishing is rapidly improving now.
Going after these species with a fly rod is becoming a popular sport. I
plan to give it a try the next few weeks. Catching a ten to 20 pound Northern
on a fly has got to be a kick. I tried it earlier at Fort Peck but the water
was too cold. I did manage lots of casting practice though.
5/6/05, Friday - This might be the last fishable fishing
day of the Yellowstone Mother's Day Hatch as flows exceeding 4,000 cfs are
on the way down to Livingston from the Corwin Springs USGS gage station.
Flows rose sharply at Corwin Springs last night and
temperatures are forecast in the lower 70's today at Livingston and rain
tomorrow. On the other hand, cool temperatures are forecast after today
for about a week so flows could again moderate. My experience though, over
the last 30 years or so, is that the Yellowstone can be expected to come
up by the end of the first week in May and stay up for the spring runoff
event. So, today might be the day to get out. Be careful of rising water
and floating debris possible later today.
5/4/05, Wednesday - floated with friend Dave Kumlien
above Livingston. There were plenty of caddis and fish coming to the surface
as we were putting the boat in. As is often true, fish
were working on some banks and eddies but not all. Light conditions were
also a factor. When the sun came out the fish went down and vice versa but
overall the fishing was outstanding.
The first really interesting event of the day was the
observation of a "dyed in the rabbit hair" fly fisherman
sitting on a log and organizing his tackle. Turned out the fisherman was
Fred Nelson; noted fly fisher and fish guy. We offered him a place in the
boat but he declined, nearly admitting he had "honey-does" awaiting him at home. Dave and I fished the next two
riffle/pool/runs that Fred had just fished. Not surprisingly these were
the slowest areas we fished. We surmised all the working fish had sore mouths
from Fred's efforts.
5/2/05, Monday evening - I drove up Paradise Valley
Monday evening about 6:00. There was a cold northwest wind that didn't help
the prospects of fishing a whole bunch. I decided to wait it out and about 7:30 it became calm and although the caddis were not
flying (too cold) fish started rising. I landed two rainbow about 17 and
19 inches and an assortment of less big rainbow. I also lost a couple of
big fish. the last fish I hooked was at 9:00. Since I could not see my fly
very well, I made a long cast and let the fly slowly swing downstream. A
really big, probably rainbow, took the fly and went dancing and tail-walking
to the middle of the river and released himself. On that note I retired
for the night and headed home.
With warm temperatures and possible rain in the forecast
the next few days the 2005 caddis hatch probably will be history in two
or three days so if you want to participate, do it ASAP. The next event
will be the salmon fly hatch in late June or early July. Good Luck.
5/1/04, Sunday - Floated and fished the Yellowstone
River with the Whirling Disease Foundation Board of Directors and Executive
Director on Sunday. We had three boats. Although weather
conditions were less than ideal, with a rather cold NE wind in our faces
during the afternoon, the caddis hatch was fairly heavy and thousands of
caddis flies were on the water. There were cookie sized clumps of caddis
floating on the water surface which we dubbed caddis oatmeal cookies. There
were also good hatches of baetis and March brown may flies. Our boat caught
no fish before our lunch stop. Dan, in Harry's boat hooked up three or four
fish on streamers up to 24+ inches. After lunch fish started to key into
the surface flies and my crew boated about nine rainbow between 17 and 20
inches. Later in the day, I stepped out and landed a 13 inch or so rainbow
to ruin our average. I wanted to prove that there are some small fish in
So, the weather was sort of nasty and the fishing wasn't
fast but the quality of the fish caught and the quality of the company made
for a great day. We used tactics as outlined in my April 24 report, below,
to boat our fish.
I have some movie footage of this day that I will add
to my site if I ever find the time.
4/26/05, Tuesday - The big news is that warm temperatures
the past four days coupled with lots of rain and snow last week has rendered
the Yellowstone and the caddis hatch unfishable by normal fly fishing standards. This is primarily the result of high flows from the Lamar river in Yellowstone
Park. Very cold air temperatures forecast the next few nights (11 to 15 F), should turn the faucet off in
the Park and allow the Yellowstone in our part of the country to clear.
This clearing will take probably 2 to 4 days. So, if the weather man is
right, the caddis hatch should
slow, the river will hopefully clear and offer the
fishermen a window of the Yellowstone river's famed
caddis fly hatch. The hatch had just begun when the high water hit yesterday
so there are plenty of caddis yet to hatch. One just has to keep his eye
on the situation and fish when and if the opportunity arises.
4/24/05, Sunday - The big news
is the caddis fly hatch has begun on the Yellowstone River.
I observed caddis yesterday afternoon on the Yellowstone River near Livingston.
I also observed Blue wing Olive (baetis) may flies. So, assuming you have
the honeydews done and have checked and updated your gear and supply of
flies........might as well go fishing.
The caddis fly hatch is possibly the best dry fly action
of the year. when the fish are on, even the beginner fly fisher can expect
success. There are some basic things to remember about fishing the caddis
fly hatch. Tapping a few steamside bushes with your foot or giving them
a shake will reveal the presence or absence of caddis flies and how many,
wherever you happen to be at the time. Caddis usually don't start flying
and dancing on the water until the day warms a bit. Fish with nymphs until
things warm up and you see flies on the water. Look for rising fish. Its
easy to tell if rising fish are taking caddis. When caddis hatch, they skitter
off the water and later they can be seen dancing on the water surface. In
either case trout know that they must react quickly to nab these morsels
or they will be gone. The result is that trout hit caddis flies hard. They
hit so hard that a vertical water spout results at the rise. Its not uncommon
to see these little geysers from bank to bank during the Hatch. Nothing
subtle here. Under these conditions it doesn't take much finesse to catch
trout on a dry. Just get it out there. Nothing is ever all encompassing,
true without exception where fly fishing is spoken. This being said, keep
an eye out for sippers in slow water and foamy eddies. One more tip......Sometimes
caddis are so thick on the water that its impossible to see your fly. By
using a fly that's a little bit larger or different from the naturals, you
can more easily pick it out...and so can the trout. Trude patterns are a
good choice here. This works when the fish are really on. If the fish are
particular and not so thick, you might try going the other way and put on
a smaller caddie pattern than you would generally use...an 18 or so. Also
observe whether the trout might be feeding on something else. With moderate
weather this first big hatch should last a week or two. Right now it looks
more like two. If a whitefish comes up to your flie, just pull the fly away
from it and wait for a trout to hit. Enjoy!
4/12/05, We received above average precipitation last
month and we have had about 1/2 inch of rain so far in April. Flows in the
Yellowstone River at Livingston are at or just above normal so we can't
complain at this point. The rain needs to keep falling. The weather is variable
but mostly nice. The next couple of days forecast is for the mid sixties.
I traveled to the Fort Peck area last week in hopes of
catching some walleye, northern pike and sauger. We were successful with
sauger but caught no walleye or northerns. The sauger were caught in the
Missouri River above the reservoir. Sauger are spawning now. Sauger
are native to Montana and have a restrictive limit of one fish per day per
fisherman. If its fillets you're after, better wait for the walleye and
northern bites to improve. We were a bit early for that last week. However,
if we had a larger boat and could safely travel long distance on the reservoir
we might have had better luck for lake trout and northerns. At any rate
the new fishing season is upon us. Its time to work out the kinks and cast
3/23/05, Wednesday, We seem to be getting more winter
now that its officially Spring, 05. Its about 17 F, snowing and blowing.
Nasty! On the plus side we've received about 1/2 inch of precipitation so
far during the month of March. Average precip. for March is about 9/10 inch.
With 5 to 10 inches of snow expected in the next 24 hours we will be getting
close to that average and possibly exceed normal for March. Last year we
received our moisture late and ended up with a decent year.
There has been much concern about drought again this year.
I think Dale Carnegie hit it on the head when he said..."don't worry
about something before it happens." And that proverbial statement is
particularly applicable to the Livingston area...and weather.
Being the perpetual a optimist, I say let it rain...'til
July...then evening thunderstorms.
3/12/05, Saturday: After several weeks of mostly warm
dry weather, its currently snowing in Livingston. That's good! Hopefully
we will get our fair share of moisture during our upcoming wet season.
Fishing has been quite good on the Yellowstone river all
winter. Midge and similar dry fly patterns have worked just fine. Nymph
or emerger and cripple patterns often get the most action. Its sometimes
so easy to catch trout on a slowly swinging emerger that its downright embarrassing.
The thing is, at the same time (literally) its often very difficult to catch
trout using any other technique.
Rainbow should be active in the spawning department now.
They should be cruising lake shores as well as working the gravel in streams.
See "Catch and Release Tips and Spawners" section below, this
12/18/04, Saturday: Another warm, if breezy, day. Area
forecasts are for the upper-forties's to mid-sixties today and tomorrow.
Still no snow in Livingston. Today is the day to head for the hills and
cut a Christmas tree and decorate. Christmas shopping is also on the agenda.
For those who have already done these holiday things, it might be worthwhile
to look for the wind to drop and try some fishing.
12/15/04, Wednesday: We are having very mild weather
for December with air temperatures as high as the mid-sixties the past week
in some areas. Yesterday, with air temperatures in the mid-forties and little
wind, I took a bike ride and looked at the river about 3:30 PM. The conditions
were very good for fly fishing but I did not observe any rising trout. I
don't now what went on the rest of the day. It was well worth getting out
regardless. I rode past a motionless whitetail buck giving me the eye at
about 25 yards. I was glad the rut is over and he didn't challenge me and/or
12/7/04, Tuesday: Pearl Harbor Day. Sixty three years
ago today the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Makes the inconvenience of a
few windy days seem a bit trivial. Nevertheless, the wind has too be dealt
with. The forecast is for even warmer temperatures and higher wind velocities
for the rest of the week. Its been my observation, the past 25 years of
residing in Livingston, that during winter the numerical value of the wind
velocity correlates quite closely to the numerical value of the air temperature.
For example, right now its about 41 F and the wind is averaging 35 MPH with
gusts up to 45 mph.
Another observation I have made is that,, during the
the months of November, December, January or February; the range of air
temperature can be up to 100 F on any given day. This means, as an example,
that on December 29, air temperature could be a high of 65 F or a low of
-35 F. Check it out. Go to our weather link, click on "averages"
then choose record high and record low. The range is 103 F for December.
Here is one more observation I have found useful as
a fly fisherman. Our winter weather comes and goes in cycles depending on
what the jet stream and gulf flow is doing. When we get a cold snap, a chinook
is usually not far behind and vice versa. When changing from warm chinook
conditions like now, for example, there is often a period of a few hours
when weather systems are coming together, that it gets dead calm and sometimes
with silver dollar size snowflakes parachuting straight down. One gets the
feeling of being in a big empty room, the fish go on the bite. A great experience.
Need I say more?
You don't have to believe any of this. I'm not a meteorologist.
I'm a fly fisherman and therefore a liar.
Oh yea, ice fishing can be a fun winter activity. That's
coming right up if it ever gets cold enough.
What's this all mean? If you love to fish, you keep
your eye on the weather and keep your gear together and close by, you can
choose a time, even in the middle of winter to get out and beat cabin fever
12/05/04, Sunday: We are approaching the winter solstice
and in Livingston, the West in general, that means WIND. Although we have
many beautiful windless days we also get more than our share of quickly
moving air. On the plus side, the strong winds usually come from the SW
and that translates to warmer temperatures. The ten day forecast for Livingston
is for highs in the forties and low fifties.
Frequently, the wind dies down toward evening and often
becomes calm. Mornings are sometimes calm. If you are fortunate enough to
live here, there are opportunities to get in some enjoyable fly fishing
sometime during the week. Its good for the body and soul.
When the wind blows, tie up some flies, Check equipment,
read, do "honeydoes" so when the wind stops you don't have to
feel guilty about indulging in a fishing trip.
Fish dry if there are midges and rising fish. Nymph
fishing is probably the most consistent way to fish this time of year. Try
a small dry with a visible wing as an indicator (it might also catch a fish)
with a midge worm or emerger as a dropper.
This nice brown was caught
and released Tuesday, 3/30/04. I didn't catch it but was happy to hold it
up so Tom Bell could take this photo of of his catch. No, it wasn't caught
3/20/04: The first day of spring! And
its a beauty.Temperatures have been in the fifties and sixties the past
few days. I'm watching very small mayflys drift past my second story window.
This is the time.. ...click to read on...and for past reports.,
Give us a call at 1-877-972-2221
Dave Kumlien with a another
nice brown on a dry caddis, May 03 . Dave is the executive director of the
Disease Foundation. (Rae Stevenson photo)
Rae hugs a nice brown after
getting slapped in the face during last years, 2003, caddis fly hatch. (Dave Kumlien photo)
Catch and release tips and
Spawners: Never put your fingers in
the fishes gills. Simply removing the hook while the fish is still in the
water without touching the fish is best but not always possible. If landing
the fish by hand, wet your hand first. If the fish is fighting you, try
turning the fish upside down. This seems to disorient the fish and almost
always calms it down. Landing nets should be of a soft texture, not hard
"nylon". Hard netting can damage the fishes scales and skin exposing
it to infectious pathogens. After bringing the fish to the net, leave a
netted fish in the water for awhile before lifting it out of the water.
This will allow the gasping fish to rest and take in some greatly needed
oxygen before handling it out of water. An analogy of not doing this would
be to stick a track athlete's head in a bucket of water immediately after
he crosses the finish line.
Give us a call at 1-877-972-2221
All materials herein for the exclusive
use of "The Stevensons" ,copyright 1996 - 2004
...I remember, rod in hand, the bleached cobble and gravel of the
Yellowstone River. Ahh... the smell. I watched in amazement as the line
came alive. The rod bent and throbbed against the weight of a fish. The
fish seemed large.
I can't remember to what degree, but I must have been extremely excited.
Why else would I remember an event that took place more than forty years
I was six years old. I had just caught my first fish ever.
This was not a time for catch and release. In fact, who in Montana had heard
of such a thing back then?
At any rate, I possessed it. Even though it was a sucker, I took it home.
My mother cooked it and we ate it. Ahh... the smell.
...Fishermen of the Upper Yellowstone area are fortunate to be able to enjoy
the Yellowstone cutthroat trout. This subspecies is recognized as the last
large river dwelling population of cutthroat in existence today....excerpts
from... Restoring cutthroat -- an opinion
--- Rich Stevenson
Rich is a fisheries Scientist who grew up fishing and hunting
in the Big Sky Country of Montana.
He worked as a fisheries biologist in Montana and Wyoming. Rich emphasizes
a conservation ethic in outdoor sports.
Barry - enjoys a day in October
on the Yellowstone.
The first priority when fishing is to relax
and enjoy yourself.
Rich Stevenson netting a brown.
Rich Stevenson has fished the Yellowstone River for over forty years
and has been a Montana Licensed Outfitter the past seventeen years. He is
a Fishery Scientist with nine years experience in Montana and Wyoming. His
Masters Thesis research was done on the Big Horn River.
"The Upper Hand" - Armstrong Spring
Limited edition print
This scene was painted from the famed Armstrong /Depuy Spring Creek before
it was captured by the Yellowstone flood of 1996. What a loss! Fortunately,
there is a plan (and alternative plans) being considered to deflect the
flow of the new Yellowstone channel that will allow restoration of Armstrong
/Depuy Spring Creek . I believe this can be done with no deleterious affects
to the Yellowstone. Due to its outstanding capability of trout recruitment,
restoration of the spring creek is paramount to the well being of the trout
populations of the Yellowstone River system. The unique fishing experience
and monetary value the spring creek offers is substantial added value. The
spring creek's contribution of riparian habitat supporting diverse wildlife
and waterfowl, including trumpeter swans, merit further consideration.
to the efforts of many people, the spring creeks have been rehabilitated
and today are offering the same great fly fishing experience they have in
the Past. In addition, the well being of the Yellowstone River is being
monitored closely by the public and State and Federal agencies hopefully
to ensure that this extraordinary free flowing river will be maintained
for future generations to enjoy.
Rich is an artist and illustrator specializing in watercolor, oil, and bronze.
Publications include: Madison-Gallatin 2004 Poster, Falcon National Magazine
centerfold, Montana Outdoors Magazine, Montana Magazine.The Roger Torey
Peterson Institute Library, Montana State Fish (black spotted cutthroat
trout) in "Symbols of Montana"- Montana Historical Society, 120
illustrations for a "Field Guide to Montana Fishes" - George Holton,
author, "Habitat take a Deeper Look" - an educational poster commissioned
by the American Fisheries Society for Montana's "Project Wild"
program, Dan Bailey catalog, Bud Lilly catalog . Most recently, he provided
the original art and graphics for the 2004 Madison
- Gallatin Chapter of Trout Unlimited banquet
Commissions accepted: portraits
of your trophy fish, yourself or your dog , etc...
Be sure to browse our art web site
at: Montana wild Studio
"Joe" looking for "spawners"
cruising a lake shore.
Paul - with a nice Yellowstone brown trout
Fall fishing on the Yellowstone is for the serious
fly fisher. A time to enjoy beautiful fall colors, mild weather (usually),
and light fishing traffic. Its the opportunity to test ones skill at hooking
and landing a large brown trout. The most effective technique is to wade
and fish with shooting heads and large streamers. The best time for this
technique centers around the month of October.
first draft created 9/20/96
"watch your back cast"
Rich and Marie Stevenson
204 South 5th Street
Call Toll Free: 1-877-972-2221
credit cards accepted
at this Toll Free Number: 1-877-972-2221
Do not send credit card
information via email as email is not secure! Please use the toll free number
Rich & Marie Stevenson
204 South 5th Street
Livingston, Montana 59047