5 Best Fly Fishing Rivers in Bozeman, Montana
Fly fishing in Bozeman, MT is a world-class experience that brings anglers from all over the country and beyond to fly fish the many blue ribbon rivers surrounding town. With the headwaters of the Missouri River to the west, the mighty Yellowstone River to the east, and the legendary Madison River to the south, Bozeman truly is the epicenter of fly fishing in Montana and the best destination for your next Montana fly fishing trip. With hundreds of miles of blue ribbon water within and hour of Bozeman, it can be overwhelming to plan exactly where to fly fish. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides and outfitter spend roughly a thousand days on the rivers each year and with that have put together our list of the top 5 rivers to fly fish in Bozeman, MT on your next trip. Contact us to learn more and book your next Montana fly fishing trip today.
1) The Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River is the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48, boasts over 150 miles of floatable and fishable trout water, and offers anglers the purest experience of fly fishing for wild trout in a wild and scenic setting in Montana. Dry fly fishing is king on the Yellowstone River with excellent early season mayfly hatches in April, the world-famous Salmonfly hatch in late-June and early-July, followed by excellent terrestrial and mayfly action through the heart of the summer and into the fall. Anglers planning a Bozeman fly fishing trip should count on spending a few days on the Yellowstone River due to the sheer size and variety offered. The upper reaches are highlighted by healthy populations of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout that are always eager to rise. The middle reaches of Paradise Valley through the town of Livingston, MT offer fly fishing in Montana’s most picturesque and scenic mountain setting. Downstream of Livingston, MT anglers are greeted by the vast Montana prairie and the large trophy sized brown trout lurking around every bend. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides are experts on the Yellowstone River and offer float trips on
2) The Madison River
The Madison River is the iconic Montana river in the storied legacy of fly fishing for many anglers. These hallowed waters flow from the high reaches of Yellowstone through the sweeping Madison River Valley to the southwest of Bozeman, MT on its course to the Missouri River headwaters. From its inception in the high country, through it terminus in the prairie, the Madison River boasts some of the highest fish per mile counts in the west and strong hatches that fuel the wild Madison River rainbow and brown trout. The “50-mile riffle” section on the Upper Madison River near Ennis, MT is the big show for most anglers with productive fly fishing available year-round. April-October is prime time with highlights including the Salmonfly hatch in June and July, streamer fishing early and late season, and epic caddis hatches in July and into August. Every year the biggest trout we see come to net are on the Madison River. This is can’t miss fly fishing on any Bozeman fly fishing trip.
3) Northeast Corner of Yellowstone National Park
What’s better than a single river to fly fish? How about arguably the highest density of productive wild cutthroat trout water in the world. The northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park is home to the headwater of the Yellowstone River and all of its storied tributaries: Soda Butte Creek, the Lamar River, Slough Creek, and the dozens of lesser known creeks in this region. This part of Yellowstone National Park is dry fly country. Anglers can reasonably expect to fish dry flies and have eager cutthroat rising from 7/1-10/15 each year. There is no better wade fishing opportunities in our area, with ample access and limitless wide open spaces. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides feel Yellowstone is the best option for anglers with a sense of adventure, wanting to put in the time on foot, and willing to take the road less travelled for the pursuit of wild trout. Anglers looking for the classic ‘small-stream’ experience will want to plan 1-3 days in this area to really take it all in. The Lamar River in the Lamar Valley is the best starting point. From there, the options are limited only by your sense of adventure.
4) DePuys and Armstrong Spring Creeks
If you know, you already know. If you don’t know, but casting delicate dry flies at spooky and selective rising trout is your idea of a fun time, then the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks are can’t miss fishing or your next Bozeman fly fishing trip. The Depuy’s and Armstrong Spring Creeks are quintessential trout water with high fish per mile counts, predictable hatches of mayflies throughout the summer, and a sense of history and lore on every run. Just don’t expect easy. The Paradise Valley Spring Creeks will test the best of anglers on their best of days. These technical fisheries reward patient anglers willing to put in the time and thought to better their own angling ability and humble themselves to these wild trout. Bring your A-game and a learning mindset and you will be rewarded with one of the most unique fly fishing experiences in all of Montana. Guide availability is very limited on the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks and trips are limited to small groups of 1-4 anglers.
5) The Gallatin River
The Gallatin River is the “river that runs through it” with many of the iconic moments filmed on its winding course between Big Sky and Bozeman, MT. While guiding is limited, access to the Gallatin on this stretch is plentiful with Highway 191 paralleling the banks as is passes through US forest service land, making for excellent roadside fly fishing. This is a perfect river for first-timers venturing to Bozeman as the classic riffle-run-pool structure of the Gallatin River makes for a perfect beginner learning experience. The Gallatin River is also one of the best winter fisheries in Bozeman, MT with excellent nymphing available throughout the snow season. Our Bozeman, MT fly fishing guides primarily focus on the float section of the Lower Gallatin River downstream of the Gallatin Canyon, and the headwaters section upstream of Big Sky, MT in Yellowstone National Park. The lower river is excellent fishery and a great option for a chance at a truly trophy trout. The upper reaches fish akin to a spring creek with challenging but rewarding dry fly fishing throughout the summer months.
There are countless other rivers favored by local and visiting anglers to Bozeman, MT that could be on this list. This is the tip of the fly fishing iceberg. With that, a sense of exploration will yield a lifetime of fly fishing adventure in Bozeman. Fish on!