My Favorite Fly Fishing Spots in Montana

Montana is spoilt with over 450 Miles of some of the best trout fishing in the world. With clean rivers and streams, and an abundance of fish, the regions appeal to both fly fishing tourist and would be property owners.

I've listed five of my favorite Montana fly fishing properties and hotspots. These are not necessarily the most popular or most famous, but they are - in no particular order - my personal favorites.

1. Gallatin River

The Gallatin River Is one of three streams that ultimately form the Missouri River. Even if you don't catch any fish in this River, the scenery is worth the trip. There is plenty of diversity in the waterways, and it's not that far from Bozeman and Big Sky which means that river access will not be a problem.

These waters are best for wade fishing. Quite a bit of the river is difficult for float fishing. So come prepared to wade, my favorite choice anyway.

In my experience, the further up the canyon you go the better the fishing. As the river begins to slow down and move into privately owned farm country, the warm Waters have a negative impact on trout numbers.

2. Madison River

I love the Madison River, and I am never disappointed when I come here looking for fish. It's regarded by many fly fishermen to be the top fly fishing spot in North America.

There are some sizeable trout. You will have ample opportunities at both rainbow and brown trout many of which can be 20” and over. My favorite time on the Madison is the fall hopper hatch. Don’t miss it!

Flickr, CC0 License

The diversity of the Madison River means that trout numbers will peak at different times of the year and it's best to speak to locals or Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks about which Fish are running and where before you turn up.

You can be pretty confident of good fly fishing anytime along the river between May and October. If you want to do the tourist thing, there are some small businesses that will get you out on the water for day trips and river adventures.

If you're seriously keen and you want to skip the tourist trade, it may even be worth looking at the fly fishing properties for sale in and around these areas.

3. Missouri River

The Missouri River runs through around 700 Miles of Montana. So, it's easy to get lost amongst the opportunities for fishing here. Most people tend to choose the small stretch of river frontage between Cascade and Holter Dam.

You'll have the option of both wading or floating, depending on where you pull up. There are also outfitters at Cascade, Craig, and Wolf Creek that will help you choose the right kind of tackle, flies and provide you with naps and even a guided tour if you need it.

Burly brown and rainbow are particularly prevalent in this area. These are hefty trout.

4. Yellowstone River

Having its genesis in the famous North American park that bears its name, this river is the last undammed river in the West.

There is diversity and variety of water here that could keep for weeks, if not months. The fast waterways near the head provide for healthy and numerous trout. You will never come away from this part of the river disappointed.


Wiki Commons

Just make sure you have the right gear, and you're turning up at the right time of day, and the right time of year.

The trout here are clean and fresh and taste delicious and you can always catch and release. Of course, as the Yellowstone winds it's way east its waters will gradually become warmer and the fish, less abundant.

If you find yourself in one of those more easterly sections, you might try for Sauger, Channel Cat and prehistoric-looking Paddlefish. If you are lucky, you may stumble upon the now endangered Pallid Sturgeon.

5. Flathead River - The North Fork

The north fork Flathead River creates the Eastern boundary for the Glacier National Park and offers some excellent hiking, bushwalking and scenery, not to mention exceptional fishing spots.

Flickr, CC0 License

Be prepared for a solid workout if you attempt to reach the crystal clear waters that await you. The journey is not a straightforward one, but the fishing spots in this area are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen.

Some Things to Remember

Most rivers and Streams in Montana are open from the first Saturday in May until the end of November. However, there are specific restrictions placed on certain fishing spots, depending on the district.

So, before you head out, make sure you know what those constraints are so that you're not disappointed.

As for the reservoirs and lakes, these are open all year round, - again unless there are restrictions placed on some areas. Winter offers ice fishing which is fun to experience.

Montana maintains access laws that allow the general public to use all of its rivers and streams for recreation and enjoyment as long as there are public access points.

Nevertheless, these access laws do not give you the right to trespass on private lands that border these rivers and streams.

If you're not sure about how access laws might apply to your fishing trip, it's best to speak to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks before you head out or hire a knowledgeable fly fishing guide.

Feature Image, WPAFB, Creative Commons


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