Montana is home to some of the best fly fishing rivers on Earth. The amazing diversity of wild trout fly-fishing fisheries 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. Montana Angler hold's several special federal and state permits for fishing restricted waters.
Montana's Best Fly Fishing Rivers
The Madison River offers an amazing diversity of water and can vary significantly in its character as it travels on its course from Yellowstone National Park to the Missouri River. Different sections of the river offer different habitat, scenery, hatches and fishing techniques. In many ways the Madison feels like a completely different river from one location to the next. The variety along this legendary fishery is one of the many factors that makes it one of the most consistent rivers in Montana.
The Yellowstone River is the longest free flowing river in the lower 48 and one of North America’s most productive wild trout fisheries. This large river drains much of Yellowstone National Park and its surrounding wilderness areas. The mighty “Stone” offers more than 200 miles of high quality trout waters that include a variety of fish species and water characteristics.
The Gallatin River is a blue ribbon river that originates in Yellowstone National Park. In its upper reaches, it flows through a spectacular alpine environment within the Gallatin Canyon where the fishing scenes from the movie A River Runs Through It were filmed. The Gallatin is a very picturesque river with crystal clear water and lots of trout. The river is not known for trophy trout but often produces fast action and high catch rates.
Montana's Smith River is one of the West's legendary fly fishing trips. The river winds through 60 miles of wilderness between public access points and is strictly regulated by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to ensure the pristine beauty of the canyon is not overrun. The river corridor is comprised of towering limestone cliffs and heavily timbered forests broken only by a few small clusters of cabins on private land.
The Boulder River is one of the most beautiful fly fishing rivers in Montana. It originates in the Absorka Beartooth Wilderness just north of Yellowstone Park. The aquarium like water is absolutely loaded with very willing rainbows and browns. We focus our trips on the lower portion of the Boulder river where it flows through almost 100% private land making access to wading anglers very difficult.
The Missouri River is a true classic and one of the best Montana fly fishing rivers. It begins at Three Forks, about 30 minutes west from Bozeman where the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson meet. The Missouri river produces great hatches, premier dry fly fishing, large trout and even world class carp fishing!
This classic Western fishery is home to 5 species of game fish: brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, and the last remaining strong hold of native fluvial arctic grayling in the lower 48. This pristine fishery has 4 distinct sections encompassing high country meadows, tight canyons, wide open cottonwood river bottom land, allowing for a wide variety of water type to enjoy over it's roughly 150 mile course. With pocket water, riffles, pools, shallow edges, deep runs, undercut banks, and long tail outs it has every type of water to hide your next wild trophy trout.
The East Gallatin River offers one of the best fly fishing trips near Bozeman. The East is a small meadow river that flows through the pastoral heart of the Gallatin Valley. It has a completely different "personality" than its larger neighbor the Gallatin River. The river makes one serpentine turn after another producing countless undercut banks full of trout.
Jefferson River fishing is overlooked by many visiting anglers. The Jefferson is a large river that is formed by the confluence of the Beaverhead and the Bighole in Twin Bridges. Fly fishing the Jefferson is never a crowded experience as trout numbers are lower than some of the other blue ribbon rivers in the region. Despite the lower trout density, the Jefferson can produce some outstanding fishing under the right conditions and has a reputation for big fish.
The Ruby River is a spectacular small river fishery located in the beautiful Ruby Valley. Just 30 minutes from Ennis and and hour from Bozeman, the short commute is worth it to fish the Ruby. For such a small body of water, it holds surprisingly large trout. The ruby is a fickle river and it runs the spectrum from blazing hot to icy cold. Although the Ruby is not as famous as some of its larger neighbors, our guides consider it as one of the regions top Montana fly fishing rivers.
The Stillwater River begins its journey high in the Beartooth Mountains and tumbles its way to join the Yellowstone at Columbus, Montana. The Stillwater is slightly larger than the Boulder river and the fishing is very similar on both rivers. Because of the swift currents and abundant rocks we use rafts to navigate the Stillwater river. During the summer it produces some of the best dry fly fishing in Montana.
The Bighorn River is one of the most productive wild trout rivers in Montana. It is a large tailwater that produces incredible numbers of large trout year round. Located about 3 hours from Bozeman, it is too far for a day trip from our normal operations area so we usually recommend making the Bighorn a single destination river. Our guides focus most of our efforts on the river during May and June when the river is fishing at its best.
Montana is legendary for its large river trout fishing, it is also filled with thousands upon thousands of miles of high quality small trout streams. Nearly every body of moving water in Western Montana holds trout. Small stream fishing can often produce fast action for smaller sized trout (and sometimes some surprisingly larger fish as well).