Southwestern Montana is home to some of the best fly fishing rivers on Earth. The amazing diversity of wild trout waters ensures that there is destination to match nearly all interest and skill levels. The vast variety of waters and hundreds of miles of blue ribbon rivers and streams within a short drive helps to spread anglers out and ensures that there is always a “hot river” to visit. No one river is always on fire regardless of how famous it is. The guides at Montana Angler Fly Fishing keep close tabs on the many different rivers, spring creeks, lakes an small streams that we target to ensure that our guests have the best chance at a productive day on the water.
The Madison is frequently rated the number one fly fishing river in North America. With an incredible trout density, fish over 30″, diverse water, and spectacular scenery it is no surprise why this river has captured the imagination of the world’s greatest fly fisherman. The Madison is a very consistent fishery and produces great action from April to October.
The mighty Yellowstone river is one of the world’s great fly fishing destinations. Montana Angler fishes over 100 miles of this river from Yellowstone Park to Columbus. While we use drift boats on most of the Yellowstone, we are one of the few outfitters in Montana that has class V whitewater trained guides capable of rowing the rapids of Yankee Jim canyon with fly fishing equipped rafts. The Yellowstone is a favorite of our guests!
The Gallatin River originates in Yellowstone National Park and flows through a spectacular canyon after leaving the park. Primarily a wade fishing river, it is loaded with eager trout that inhabit its crystal clear waters. All of the fly fishing scenes from “A River Runs Through it” were filmed in the scenic Gallatin Canyon.
The Boulder River is one of Montana’s true gems. Originating in the Absoraka Beartooth Wildernes just north of Yellwostone Park, it tumbles at a brisk pace past some of the states most spectacular vistas. The Boulder River valley is where Robert Redford filmed “The Horse Whisperer”. Big Sky Angler is one of the few outfitters in the region that have the rafts and expert guides required to float its tumultuous boulder strewn currents. The crystal clear water is home to aggressive browns and rainbows that eagerly await our attractor dry flies.
East Gallatin River
The East Gallatin is located just outside of Bozeman. It is a smaller river, but has suprisingly large trout and productive hatches. Wade fishing can be very productive and dry fly fishing over the pmd and trico hatch can be outstanding.
The Ruby is a gorgeous river that is just a short jaunt from Bozeman. It’s small size is perfect for wade fishing. Both browns and rainbows inhabit the Ruby and you will be amazed by the size of the trout it holds for such a small river. When the Ruby gets hot, it can offer some of the best fly fishing in Montana.
Another of Montana’s world famous rivers, the Missouri is formed when the Madison, Gallatin and Jefferson rivers join at Three Forks. The river below Huaser Dam near Craig is a productive tailwater filled with abundant fish in the 17-19″ class (and some bigger). We also fish the Upper Missouri above Canyon Ferry reservoir in the spring and the fall when huge trout run out of the lake. If you want to swing for the fences and try for a fish in the 25-30″ range, this is the place.
The Stillwater is a another fast and rocky river that we use rafts to float fish. It has high trout numbers and can be one of the best attractor dry fly rivers in Montana when it is flowing at the right water levels.
The “Jeff” is a larger river that feeds the Missouri. Although it does not hold the same numbers of trout that the other are rivers do, it receives light fishing pressure and has some large fish. The Jefferson is a nice river to get away from it all, see a gorgeous river and catch some pristine wild trout.
The Bighorn is a large tail water in the plains near the Prior Mountains in Southern Montana. It is several hours from the other rivers that we fish, but many of our guides focus on this fishery during late May and early June when some other river are high from snowmelt. The Bighorn is dam controlled so its flows are moderated. The river is famous for having the highest density of trout of any river in North America. With an average trout running about 18″, it is one of Montana’s most popular rivers.
The Smith is a legendary wilderness float in Central Montana. Fish Wildlife and Parks restricts the number of launches per day ensuring that the fishing on over 60 miles of water devoid of public access remains lightly pressured. The river cooridor is composed of towering limestone cliffs, dense forests and abundant wildlife. Smith river fly fishing trips are 5 or 6 day adventures spent camping and fishing along the river.
There are thousands of miles of small streams in Western Montana. Even the smallest creeks hold healthy populations of wild trout. Some of our favorites have some surprisingly large fish.
Montana fly fishing is famous not only for large rivers but for small and technical spring fed creeks. We offer trips on some of the world’s top spring creeks including DePuy,Armstrong, Nelson, Milesnick, and McCoy spring creeks. These productive fisheries all originate from underground springs and offer the perfect water temperatures to trout year round. The ideal environment of the creeks allows them to become aquatic insect factories resulting in exceptional match the hatch fishing. Our guides are masters of these technical fisheries and will reveal the secrets you need to have success with their selective trout.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is home to some of the best wade fishing in the Rockies. Legendary waters such as the Madison, Firehole, Yellowstone, Gallatin, Gardner, Lamar, and Slough Creek offer outstanding dry fly fishing during the summer and early fall months. There are also several spawning run so big browns in the park that occur in October that produce trophy sized trout.
We have several large reservoirs such as Hebgen Lake, Ennis Lake, Harrison Lake and Canyon Ferry Lake near Bozeman that offer fantastic site fishing to large trout rising to mayfly hatches. The trout in the lakes average 18-22″ in length and can produce some of the best match-the-hatch dry fly fishing of your life!
We have permission on several private ranches that are a short drive from Bozeman. Fishing options range from site casting to monstrous trophy trout in small irrigation reservoirs to wade fishing pristine small streams in wilderness canyons.
Backcountry alpine lakes and streams
Our horsepack partner has access to thousands of acres of wilderness in the high elevation alpine country north of the Yellowstone National Park boundary. Fly fishing on these wilderness trips on remote streams and lakes can be fabulous. This is some of the wildest country in the lower 48!
Special thanks to Montana Angler Fly Fishing for providing such detailed and comprehensive information on area fly fishing rivers, spring creeks and lakes.