Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Hatches and Trout Flies for the Yellowstone River- Yellowstone
The hatches on the Yellowstone River are varied and plentiful as any stream in the park and
much more so than most of them. This river stays cold until well on into the summer and in
general, hatches run a little behind most other streams in other sections of the park. Of course
it depends on which section of the river you are fishing. Its elevation ranges from very high to
low near Gardiner Montana. Also, please note that when we say "fast water sections" of the
river, this includes the stream below Yellowstone Lake down to the falls. The water is very
deceptive in that area. It can be smooth yet running very fast.
Blue-winged Olives are hatching even before the water first clears. There are several species
including the baetis. There's an early season baetis hatch the first part of July and the another
hatch near the first of September.
PMDs, or Pale Morning Duns, are the bread and butter hatches on the Yellowstone River and
also the most consistent hatches of mayflies. They are usually hatching when the water first
clears and last well on until the middle to the end of September depending on the section of
Spotted Sedges are the most plentiful caddisfly. These start hatching around the end of June
well before runoff has ended and last through September in some areas. Their Little Sister
hatch during the same time period and are present in the smoother areas of water.
Green Sedges are very plentiful throughout the river. Various species of these caddisflies
hatch from about the first of July all the way into October. They are plentiful in the canyon and
fast water sections of the Yellowstone River. Little Short-Horned Sedges hatch during July in
most areas of the river.
Gray Drakes that hatch from about the middle of July until the first week of September. These
are especially plentiful in the section of the river below Yellowstone Lake. Pale Evening duns,
or Heptagenia species of mayflies, hatch from about the first of August until September and
are very plentiful in the same area as well as other areas of the river.
Green Drakes are usually hatching when the season starts on the section below the lake. The
hatch usually only last about two weeks in any one area of the stream. Near the end of August,
fall hatches of Green Drakes occur in some sections of the river.
There will be plenty of Salmonflies present in the fast water sections of the entire Yellowstone
River. They will be hatching when the water first clears from the runoff in many areas. This
hatch moves upstream each day as much as five miles or more and only last about ten days in
any one area.
Golden Stoneflies start hatching about the same time as the Salmonflies, but usually a little
later by a few days at the most. They are found throughout the fast water sections of the river
as well as river below the lake which is deceptively fast. Yellow Sallies, or Little Yellow
Stoneflies, are plentiful throughout the Yellowstone River. They start hatching the later first
part of July in some lower sections and last until the second week in September in other
You will find Yellow Quills, or the Eperous species, hatching from about the end of July through
August. These are especially plentiful in the section below the lake but also exist most
everywhere else, just not in large quantities. Western March Browns start hatching in June,
depending on the section of water and can last through August in the higher elevations.
Grasshoppers, ants and beetles are very plentiful in the meadow sections of the Yellowstone
River. The high grass along the banks of the meadows are a perfect habitat for them.
Imitations of these insect will work during late July, August, September.
Don't forget to have a good selection of streamers. They produce very well on the large
cutthroats. They work best when the water is a little stained or when it is early or late in the day.
We recommend our "Perfect Flies". They have proven to be more effective than any of the
generic or attractor flies. They have been tested extensively on this river. We have specific
imitations of everything that hatches and in all stages of life that the trout eat them in. If you
haven't already tried them, we certainly hope you will.
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Yellowstone River, YNP
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