Bozeman, Montana lies in the heart of Montana Fly Fishing. Bozeman is surrounded by the Yellowstone, Madison, Gallatin, Jefferson and Missouri Rivers. The area also hosts some spectacular spring creek fishing on Armstrong, Depuy, Nelson, and MZ Ranch Spring Creeks. The East Gallatin, which flows through the town of Bozeman, and eastbound to the Gallatin river in Manhattan, Montana, also provides anglers with a spring creek like feel, with slow meandering cut banks, and larger then average rainbow, and brown trout. With the abundance of waters it is not hard to see why Bozeman is one of Montana’s premier fly fishing destinations. When you are not out fly fishing the areas waters, Bozeman has incredible scenery to enjoy with the Bridger Mountain range to the North, and the Gallatin mountain range to the south. When not angling, these areas provide numerous biking, and hiking trails to some of the most beautiful, and wild places in Montana. The town of Bozeman has a spectacular night life that meets the needs of everyone including families. With some amazing steak houses, sushi bars (yes there is pretty good sushi even in Montana), music events that take over the entire downtown area, and family oriented festivals make Bozeman a very family oriented area to be any time of year.
To the east of Bozeman you will find Paradise Valley, and the legendary Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone River is the largest undammed river in the lower 48. We guide on this river from the top of Paradise Valley, to Columbus, Montana. Due to the size of this river we recommend fishing from a drift boat to be able to cover the miles, and miles of prime trout habitat. The upper Yellowstone in Paradise Valley has an abundance of cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and a few large brown trout. This is by far the best place for beginning anglers in the summer time, due to the willingness of the cutthroat, and rainbow trout to eat a large dry fly, and the gentle flow of the water. Floating on the Yellowstone in the upper portions of Paradise Valley provide some of the greatest scenery seen from a drift boat. These upper sections are also where anglers are able to target the legendary Salmonfly hatch. This hatch brings anglers from all over the world but, can be difficult to hit due to possible high water conditions, and the migratory nature of the flies. Just above the town of Livingston the water picks up steam, and begins its decent through the town. The waters in this section can be very challenging if you are new to rowing a drift boat, but our crew of guides will make it seem as if they have been rowing it their entire lives. This section of water, in our opinion, supports some very large fish, and more of them on average. This section of river can be fished by all types of anglers, and the summertime dry fly fishing opportunities through this stretch can produce good numbers of fish, as well as larger on average brown, and rainbow trout. In the spring and the fall, this section of water is our favorite for streamer fishing for trophy brown trout. Below the town of Livingston lies some of the most productive water for hopper fishing, on this river. The farmlands that are scattered all the way to Columbus, Montana produce large numbers of grasshoppers. When the breeze blows a little bit, later in the summer, these hoppers are scattered throughout the river leading to some truly memorable days dry fly fishing. In the fall and spring months, this area is also where you will find the “big fly” fisherman throwing streamers the size of muskrats, trying to find trophy class brown trout.
The Madison River, which we will divide into two distinct sections of water termed the upper and lower, is located west of Bozeman, Montana. The Upper portions begin in Yellowstone National Park where the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers meet. The River then meanders into Hebgen Lake, which is an area fully deserving of its own write up. The river then leaves Hebgen Lake Dam and cascades itself into another lake, created by an earthquake in 1959, aptly named Quake Lake. The river then runs as a constant riffle from Quake Lake below the town of Ennis where it creates Ennis lake. The beauty this upper river provides, and the willingness of the trout to take a fly, make this a true blue ribbon trout stream. At the end of June, early July, this river sees a huge amount of Salmonflies, and anglers chasing them. The hatch on the Madison is something that everyone should see in their lifetime, but can be very hard to hit due to the migratory nature of the stoneflies. The dry fly opportunities on this river, especially in the early morning, and late in the afternoon, provide anglers with abundant caddis, and mayfly hatches. Later in the summer the fish are very willing to take high floating foam fly patterns in the stonefly, hopper, beetle, and ant variety. Below Ennis lake the river goes through a dam near McAllister, Montana and plummets through an area called Bear Trap Canyon. Bear Trap Canyon, is a very scenic, although highly technical whitewater section. While the Bear Trap’s walk wade options can be very scenic, we do not guide this section of river. Below the Bear Trap, the river plains out, and meanders all the way to help create the Missouri River. This section of the Madison, which is only fifteen minutes from Bozeman, Montana fishes amazing in the fall and the spring. In the summer months the “bikini hatch” takes over the river with hundreds of people per day, donning their inner tubes, and coolers full of beer, to float the river.
The Gallatin River, located only a few miles from Bozeman, provides anglers with walk wade opportunities throughout the year. The Gallatin fishes well anytime of year, and provides anglers with very eager rainbow and brown trout both to a dry fly, and nymphing the boulderous pocket water that comprises this river system. On average the fish are not nearly as big as many of our other rivers, but their eagerness surpasses the needs for larger trout. This is a great river to teach fly fishing to the beginning angler. The Gallatin River is the second river that helps comprise the mighty Missour river.
The Jefferson River is created by the Bighole and Beaverhead Rivers near Twin Bridges Montana. The Jefferson is the third river that comprises the Missouri River. The Jefferson is one of those rivers that is definitely hit or miss, as far as the fishing goes, but in our opinion still deserves a write up due to its beautiful river characteristics and enormous brown trout. The Jefferson River does not hold nearly as many fish as some its other famous fly fishing counterparts, but the fish that are on the Jefferson can be world class. This is definitely a risk reward type of fishery, and one that we recommend on our longer adventure expeditions with clients. The Jefferson is a slow gradually meandering river with a few, sometimes dangerous, diversion dams. The river supports both Rainbow and Brown Trout, nymphing and streamer fishing is the primary means of targeting the fish. Some of the brown trout we have seen come out of the Jefferson rival any trophy brown trout river in the state of Montana. If you are coming over for several days, and the Jefferson has been fishing well, we highly recommend giving this river a shot.
The East Gallatin , which is nothing like the Gallatin river, is one of our favorite walk wade destinations. The East Gallatin flows through the town of Bozeman, and meanders its way to meet up with the Gallatin river near the town of Manhatten, Montana. The East Gallatin provides the angler with a true spring creek like feel through its water characteristics, and trout behavior. Deep undercut banks, and slow meandering runs that twist and turn through the landscape make this small river one of our favorite walk wade areas in the state. The river is full of larger then average rainbow, and brown trout, and fishes well anytime of the year. Many anglers can be found over-using their hand warmers, and de icing their fly rod guides well into the winter months. During the summer months, huge hatches of caddis and PMD’s scatter over this little river nightly. In late July the spruce moths begin hatching, and this can provide for some wonderful dry fly fishing throughout the day. Josh Cavan, the Outfitter for Montana FlyCast Angler, can be found on the East Gallatin several times a week, continuing to chase trout even after his guide day is over.
These rivers are only a sample of the waters that you can spend time on near Bozeman, Montana any time of year. We hope that you will consider using Montana FlyCast Angler for your next fly fishing adventure, and we know that if you spend time in Bozeman you will not find a better place to stay, or fish, throughout our beautiful state.