Our Rivers

Our Montana fly fishing guides consider Southwest Montana to be the epicenter of wild trout  fly fishing in the world. The rivers, streams, and lakes that surround our home of Bozeman, Montana are the reason why. You would be hard pressed to find more miles of high-density blue ribbon trout water anywhere. Rivers like the Yellowstone, the Madison, the Missouri, the Gallatin, and the Bighorn as well as smaller streams like the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks and the many waters of Yellowstone National Park bring anglers from across the world to Montana to take part in our western fly fishing tradition. There are many lifetimes worth of trout water to explore in Montana and something for every angler's preference. Our Montana fly fishing guides and outfitter have made it their job to know the intricacies of our blue ribbon waters. Their knowledge, experience, hard work, and teaching ability all contribute to making sure your next guided Montana fly fishing experience is your best yet, both on the river and off.

Yellowstone River

Fly fishing the Yellowstone River with our Montana fly fishing guides is the classic big river Montana fly fishing experience for anglers in Bozeman, Livingston, Gardiner, and Big Sky, Montana.

The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the contiguous 48 states and one of the finest freestone trout rivers in the world. In many ways it is the classic Montana fly fishing river. The Yellowstone is big, broad, and loaded with wild trout. The river is host to a variety of species of fish. Anglers can expect a mixed bag of rainbow trout, brown trout, whitefish, and native cutthroat trout. The Yellowstone provides anglers, from its headwaters in Yellowstone National Park all the way down to Columbus, MT, with blue ribbon trout water. The Yellowstone is famous for its dense hatches of Caddisflies, Mayflies, Stoneflies, and Terrestrials that all provide for excellent dryfly fishing from March through November. Our Montana fly fishing guides fish the Yellowstone primarily from drift boats from Gardiner, Montana to Columbus, Montana. In Yellowstone National Park our guides lead hikes into the remote reaches of the Black Canyon as well as more accessible wade fishing near the mouth of Yellowstone Lake. There is a whitewater stretch of the Yellowstone River where it flows through Yankee Jim Canyon that requires our guides use inflatable rafts to navigate significant whitewater.

Overall the Yellowstone River has more than 200 miles of productive trout water, a lifetime worth of fishing. With drift boats we are able to float 5-18 miles per day which allows anglers to experience not only the fantastic fly fishing opportunities but also the amazing scenery of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Due to its length, there is a wide variety of fly fishing to be had on the Yellowstone and tactics to employ. Nymphing, streamers, and dryfly fishing can all be effective. This sheer size of the river can be daunting for anglers, but our Montana fly fishing guides know the river well and have made it their job to know where to be and what to fish at the right time.

Missouri River

Fly fishing the Missouri River with our Montana fly fishing guides is the ultimate Montana tailwater fly fishing experience for anglers in Craig, Helena, Great Falls, and Bozeman, Montana.

The Missouri River is Montana’s finest tailwater fishery. The stretch of the Missouri River our Montana fly fishing guides primarily focus on is the tailwater near Craig, MT. For those not familiar, this stretch is sacred water amongst trout fly fisherman. The Mo begins at its headwaters in Three Forks, MT and runs through a series of lakes and dams on its way to Craig, MT. The last of these dams is Holter Dam, which is where this tailwater fishery originates. Craig, Montana is the quintessential Montana trout town. There are no stop lights, fly shops and bars account for most of the buildings on the main street, and the Missouri River runs right on the edge of town. This stretch is commonly referred to as the worlds largest spring creek. It is famous for thick hatches of mayflies, caddisflies, midges, terrestrials, and stoneflies as well as the large pods of rising trout that devour them. The Missouri River’s wild rainbow and brown trout are big and mean. They are known to run, jump, flip, and do everything they can to beat up on anglers and test their skill. This is in many ways the ultimate trout fishing river. And it sure is a lot of fun.

Dry fly fishing is the main attraction for our Montana fly fishing guides and anglers on the Missouri River near Craig, MT. This river fishes reliably well from early April through mid-November. Over the course of the year our guides employ all tactics to catch these wild trout: nymphing, streamer, and dry fly fishing. May and June are primetime for us on the Missouri River. Many of our guides are booked a year in advanced, and there is good reason why. Simply put fly fishing on the Missouri River is as good as it gets. Our guides and anglers fish the Missouri River primarily from Holter Dam through Craig, MT down to Cascade, MT but there is more trout habitat to be found closer to its headwaters near Bozeman, MT as well as below Hauser Reservoir Dam, what is known as Land of the Giants.

Madison River

Fly fishing the Madison River with our Montana fly fishing guides is a great way to experience some of the finest fly fishing the Big Sky state has to offer for anglers in Bozeman, Ennis, West Yellowstone and Big Sky, Montana.

The Madison River is the first river many anglers think of when Montana fly fishing comes up. It is a classic wild trout fishery that offers some of the finest and most diverse fly fishing opportunities in the Big Sky state. The Madison River originates in Yellowstone National Park at the confluence of the Gibbon and Firehole River and terminates at its confluence with the Jefferson and Gallatin River near Three Forks Montana at the headwaters of the Missouri River. The Madison River is dammed several times along its length resulting in essentially four different and unique rivers: the Madison in the Park, the Madison between Hebgen and Quake Lake, the Upper Madison known as the “Fifty mile riffle” below Quake Lake and through the town of Ennis, MT, and the Lower Madison below Ennis Lake. All four stretches offer blue ribbon fishing for wild trout. Our Montana fly fishing guides focus primarily on the Upper Madison near Ennis, MT, the lower Madison, and the Madison in the Park.

The Upper Madison River near Ennis, MT flows cold, fast and clear through the scenic Madison Valley, providing some of the finest trout habitat and fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout in Montana. These fish are known around the world for their size and fight. Summer months offer great dry fly fishing opportunities while the spring and fall offer some of the best streamer fishing of the year for the bigger trout in the river. Nymphing is usually always good. Great hatches of stoneflies, mayflies, and caddisflies throughout the year make for happy trout that seem to almost always be on the feed. Our guides specialize in both wade fishing and drift boat fishing along the entire length of the Madison River. Over the course of a few days fishing it is common to see a variety of tactics employed all of which adds to the excitement and fun of fishing this blue ribbon river.

Paradise Valley Spring Creeks

Fly fishing the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks with our Montana fly fishing guides is the ultimate Montana small stream fly fishing experience for anglers in Bozeman, Livingston, and Big Sky, Montana.

Depuy’s, Armstrong’s, and Nelson’s Spring Creeks are all world famous fisheries in their own right and for good reason. Private access, reliable hatches, dynamic habitats, and a consistent supply of cold and clean water make for the finest spring creek fishing in Montana. Each fishery requires a rod fee to access, which limits pressure, but it is well worth the price of admission. We feel sight fishing to rising trout on the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks is one of the classic Montana fly fishing experiences every angler needs to experience first hand.

Each creek has its own character and charm which means an angler could spend days fishing just these creeks. The creeks are true year-round fisheries offering great hatches of mayflies, caddisflies, and midges throughout the year. Dry fly fishing in January does happen, but March through November is primetime for our anglers and Montana fly fishing guides on the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks. The hatches are reliable: BWOs March-May, PMDs June-July, Tricos July-August, Sulphurs August-September, BWOs again September-October, Caddisflies come and go throughout the summer, and Midges hatch all year long. Nymphing can be great and so can the streamer bite in the DePuy’s Spring Creek lake. These creeks are the best wade fishing options near Bozeman, Montana. Due to their spring-fed origins they stay near constant temperature year round and provide some of the best spawning habitat for Yellowstone River trout. These river trout move in and out of the creeks but offer opportunities for true trophy sized fish before and after spawning. Consider a day or three of fly fishing the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks on your next Montana fly fishing trip if wade fishing smaller streams is your angling preference.

Yellowstone National Park

Fly Fishing in Yellowstone National Park with our Montana fly fishing guides is a great way to experience Montana fly fishing in the ultimate wilderness setting for anglers in Bozeman, Livingston, Gardiner, Big Sky, and West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park is one of our Nation’s greatest treasures. The Montana Angling Company is an authorized permitee of Yellowstone National Park and we provide fly fishing guiding services on all of the major and lesser known waters. Yellowstone Park is as diverse as it is big. The fly fishing opportunities are similar as the rivers range from wild to intimate. The fishing season begins the Saturday of Memorial day weekend and closes the first Sunday of November. 

From the opening weekend through the end of June our fly fishing guides operate primarily in the western half of Yellowstone National Park around Madison Junction. This includes rivers like the Firehole River, the Gibbon River, and the Madison River in the Park. This time of year you can expect consistent hatches of Caddisflies as well as Mayflies. Our guides’ preferred tactics are dry fly fishing and swing soft hackle for the wild rainbow and brown trout that inhabit these rivers. 

By July these rivers get quite warm due to hydrothermal input from the geyser basins and our guide trips generally venture into the Northeast corner of the Park, primarily in the Yellowstone River drainage. This includes many of Yellowstone National Park’s more famous river such as the Lamar River, Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek, and the Yellowstone River proper. Cuththroat trout flourish in these cold and clear waters. Consistent hatches throughout the summer and early fall make for excellent fly fishing opportunities. 

By October these higher elevation rivers get cold and our guide trips venture back to the Madison Junction. The Madison River has a great fall run of lake brown and rainbow trout that regularly exceed twenty inches in length. This can be one of the best opportunities at a true trophy fish. Streamers and nymphs are generally the best method to catch these fish but a strong BWO hatch can bring them to the surface on occasion. Yellowstone National Park has several lifetimes worth of fly fishing for the adventurous angler. There are more small streams and alpine lakes than we could ever list, and a short hike from any trailhead usually means total solitude and fly fishing paradise. Fly fishing in Yellowstone is also about more than just fishing. Wildlife viewing opportunities are everywhere, the scenery is stunning, and there is a certain mystique about the land and rivers that is hard to find anywhere else.

Bighorn River

Fly fishing the Bighorn River with our Montana fly fishing guides is the classic Montana tailwater fly fishing experience for anglers in Billings, Bozeman, and Fort Smith, Montana.

In many ways, the Bighorn River in Montana is a trout fly fisherman’s fantasy land and not much needs to be said about it that already hasn’t. The fish per mile counts are high, hatches are thick, average trout size is big, and the fishing is consistent. The river flows out of the afterbay below Yellowtail reservoir and through the Crow Reservation. The first 13 miles of this river from the afterbay down to the Bighorn fishing access is possibly the most famous stretch of trout fishing water in the west.

Our Montana fly fishing guides know the Bighorn River and its subtleties well. We offer drift boat float trips and generally wade fish throughout the day. Dryfly fishing to pods of rising fish is without a doubt the main attraction, but nymphing and streamer fishing can all come with a day’s fishing. The big hatches of BWOs start in April followed by Caddis, PMDs, Tricos, and Terrestrials through the summer. By October the BWO hatches fire off again and the streamer fishing can be excellent as well. 

Our guided fly fishing trips on the Bighorn River require a minimum 2 day trip and advanced bookings. The river is remote in the sense it is a long drive from anywhere. Lodging is available in Fort Smith, Montana and is the home base for Bighorn fly fishing. Just remember to pick up beer, wine, and other alcohol before leaving Hardin! There is none for sale once you are on the reservation.

Gallatin River

Fly fishing the Gallatin River with our Montana fly fishing guides is a unique Montana fly fishing experience for anglers in Big Sky, Bozeman, Livingston, and Ennis, Montana. 

The Gallatin River originates high up in the Gallatin Range and winds its way through Yellowstone National Park, on through the towns of Big Sky, Gallatin Gateway, Belgrade, Manhattan, and Logan on its way to Three Forks where it joins the Madison and Jefferson Rivers to create the Missouri River. Our Montana fly fishing guides know these waters well. The Gallatin is a smaller, more intimate river, than many of its surrounding waters. There is great access for wade fishing anglers along Highway 191 as it courses through Yellowstone National Park and the Gallatin Canyon through Big Sky, MT. This stretch can be characterized as high alpine meadows that transition to steep canyon whitewater. Below the Gallatin Canyon the river calms down as it courses through open farmland near Bozeman, Montana. Our Montana fly fishing guides use rafts and drift boats to float this stretch down to the Missouri River Headwaters.

The Gallatin is one of the most scenic rivers in the state and makes up for its lower fish per mile numbers with great access and convenience. It is the closest floatable fishery to Bozeman, Montana and offers anglers consistent fly fishing for wild rainbow and brown trout from early spring through late fall. Dry fly fishing with larger stoneflies and terrestrials can be effective throughout the summer months and nymphing is effective year-round. The streamer fishing can be excellent on the lower reaches of the Gallatin River and is a great place to hunt for larger brown trout on any Montana fly fishing trip. The Gallatin is known to many as the “A River Runs Through it” river as many of the scenes were filmed along its scenic banks. The Gallatin River’s proximity to Big Sky, Montana can make for an awesome winter fly fishing option in between ski days at Big Sky Ski Resort.

Stillwater River

Fly fishing the Stillwater River with our Montana fly fishing guides is the ultimate Montana whitewater fly fishing experience for anglers in Billings, Bozeman, Livingston, and Big Sky, Montana.

The Stillwater River is anything but still. Its origins are high in the Beartooth Mountain Range and it cascades down through some of the most rugged and scenic country in Montana. It is similar in character to the Boulder River but bigger in size. The Stillwater River is swift flowing, littered in boulders that provide great structure for its wild rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout, and has several rapids that require excellent oarsmanship and rafts to navigate. It also provides our anglers and Montana fly fishing guides with some of the best large dry fly fishing of the summer.

Angling pressure on the Stillwater River is considerably lower than many of the other Bozeman, Montana area rivers. This is primarily due to the fact it is a significant drive from anywhere. Fly fishing day trips on the Stillwater River mean early starts and late evenings for our anglers and guides, but they are rewarded with some of the most scenic floats in the state of Montana and consistently good dry fly fishing. When fishing is at its best on the Stillwater River it seems like there are trout ready to pounce on your fly behind every rock. River flows are also always an important consideration on the Stillwater River as it is only floatable at certain levels. Due to the distance from Bozeman, Montana and the variable nature of flows on the Stillwater River all guided fly fishing trips here require advanced bookings, are always subject to guide availability, and subject to safe river flows and conditions.

Jefferson River

Fly fishing the Jefferson River with our Montana fly fishing guides is an authentic Montana fly fishing experience for anglers in Bozeman, Big Sky, and Ennis, Montana that want to fish one of Montana’s hidden gems. 

The Jefferson River is one of Montana’s great freestone rivers. The Jefferson River forms at the confluence of the Beaverhead River and the Big Hole River at Twin Bridges, Montana. The country it runs through is rough and rugged like the river itself. The Jefferson River has lower fish per mile counts than many of the surrounding rivers and as a result is overlooked by local and travelling anglers alike. What they are missing out on is the opportunity at true trophy brown trout. The wild rainbow and brown trout that do thrive in this river are tough. Our Montana fly fishing guides target the wild trout on the Jefferson primarily with streamers, large dry flies, and large nymphs. 

Fishing success is often determined by factors outside of our control on the Jefferson. Weather, water, temperatures, clarity, and river flows all play a factor. We try and fish the Jefferson under only the best of conditions, generally in the Spring before our annual runoff period and then again later in the Fall once water temperatures drop. That being said when conditions are right, there can be great mid-summer hatches of hoppers, ants, beetles, and mayflies that can mean excellent dry fly fishing.

Unfortunately for anglers, the Jefferson and its wild trout battle consistent low river flows throughout the summer. The Jefferson winds its way through one of Montana’s most productive agricultural valleys that relies heavily on ground water and surface water pulled from the Jefferson River and it’s water table. The result is unfavorable water temperatures and flows for fish and fly fishing. When the river is at its lowest, we avoid it all together. Work is being done to restore the Jefferson to a true blue ribbon river and better protect the trout populations it hosts. When conditions are right the Jefferson is a viable trophy trout fishery and a favorite of our Montana fly fishing guides for anglers that prefer solitude on the river and are fine with lower catch rates but the potential for larger sized fish.

Private Waters

Our private water fly fishing program allows for access to many of Montana’s lesser known waters with our Montana fly fishing guides for anglers in Bozeman, Livingston, Ennis, Big Sky, and Helena, Montana. These streams and lakes are generally small in size but big in productivity. Trout size varies water to water but many give anglers opportunities at true trophy trout. 

These waters are mostly on private ranches that our Montana fly fishing guides anglers have access to for a rod fee. These include places like: Storey Lake, Burn’s Lake, Sitz Lake, Nelson’s Spring Creek, DePuy’s Spring Creek, and Armstrong Spring Creek. We are always adding new places to our private water program and if this is something you are interested we encourage you to contact us directly for more information. These fisheries allow anglers to access waters that receive significantly less angling pressure than many of their larger counterparts and experience fly fishing in Montana in solitude.

Boulder River

Fly fishing the Boulder River with our Montana fly fishing guides is the Montana fly fishing experience for the angler staying in Bozeman, Montana or Livingston, Montana that prefers a smaller stream experience.

The Boulder River is one of Southwest Montana’s lesser-known fly fishing gems. Its origins are high in the Abasorka Beartooth Wilderness and it courses through some of the most scenic country in Montana on the way to its confluence with the Yellowstone River near the town of Big Timber, MT. Our Montana fly fishing trips primarily focus on the lower stretch of the Boulder River where access is limited to a few fishing access sites, and this picturesque stream con be floated by raft. Seasonal flows limit fishing on the Boulder River to only a handful of weeks per year and as a result the fishing pressure is low and the wild rainbow and brown trout that inhabit the waters make for great summer dry fly fishing.

From pocket water, to deep holes, fishy structure, and great cutbanks, the Boulder River seems to be tailor made for fly fisherman. The river is named for the many boulders along its length, which make for difficult wading and rowing requires a high level of skill. Great hatches of stoneflies, mayflies, caddisflies, and terrestrials make for great fly fishing throughout the summer months. The Boulder River’s proximity to Bozeman, Montana makes it a great option for any summertime Montana fly fishing trip.

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