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That moniker still holds true today with three pristine rivers within a short drive of Bozeman; the Gallatin River, Madison River, and Yellowstone River, not to mention the Missouri and Jefferson Rivers and all the small mountain streams and lakes that feed into these larger rivers. Fly fishers of all ages and ability levels flock to the quaint town each year for the experience that A River Runs Through It shared so passionately. If you are planning on fly fishing in the area, here are a few spots where you can get your own little taste of the action. Within 100 miles you can find small mountain streams, larger freestone streams, lakes, spring creeks, and of course the fabled waters of Yellowstone National Park.
To get familiar with public fishing access sites in the area, to purchase your fishing license and your AIS Prevention Pass, go HERE
Photo provided by Bozeman Chamber
The Gallatin is a beautiful river with a ton of access. It begins in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park and flows north past Big Sky and out into the Gallatin Valley. This river is chockfull of Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout and Whitefish. Good fishing with attractors, caddis, stonefly nymphs, terrestrials, and spruce moth imitations work well. Access is best between Spanish Creek and the YNP boundary. A popular spot to test your fly fishing skills is the Axtell Bridge between Gallatin Gateway and Four Corners. This is a public access site which offers a small parking lot and easy access to the river.
The Madison River begins in Yellowstone National Park at the confluence of the Firehole River and Gibbon River. It flows for more than 140 miles through exceptionally beautiful scenery before it reaches the Missouri River near the town of Three Forks, Montana. Exceptional fly fishing opportunities for dry fly, nymph, and streamer fishing. Trout, both rainbow and brown are available, particularly upstream from Ennis.
Head south of town on 19th Ave to Hyalite Reservoir, a popular recreation area. Outside of fishing the lake you can partake in other popular activities such as hiking, camping, rock climbing, and mountain biking around the reservoir. Below the surface you will find some big trout that will put up a good fight.
Big Horn, Missouri, & Henry’s Fork Rivers
The Missouri has excellent Trico and caddis hatches. The Bighorn will not disappoint with large strong rainbows and browns caught on nymphs, midges, terrestrials, streamers, and caddis if water temperatures cooperate. The Madison fishes best above Ennis at this time of the year. Good access and good fishing with caddis larva, stonefly nymphs, terrestrials, caddis adults, and attractors keep people coming back.
Hebgen & Quake Lakes
These two lakes are located near West Yellowstone. Tricos are followed by Callibaetis for excellent dry fly fishing for large cruising browns and rainbows. A float tube, boat, or pontoon is suggested. Fishing is usually best early in the morning (action heats up soon after sunrise) until about lunchtime. Casting to cruising browns and rainbows in Quake Lake with hoppers also provides good action. When the wind comes up on Hebgen, make the short drive to Quake Lake for some afternoon float tubing.
Anglers who want to spend more time behind the wheel to wet a line can travel to the Yellowstone River, Paradise Valley spring creeks and even into Yellowstone National Park for some fabulous fishing. If possible, try to set aside a few days for quality fishing time before or after the Expo.
Bozeman Area Fly Fishing Opportunities Info provided by Matt Wilhelm, FFI MCI, and owner of Yellowstone Fly Fishing School and the Bozeman Chamber website.
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