There’s a reason MSU is known as “Trout U.” Here’s a rundown of the incredible waters surrounding Bozeman.
The longest free-flowing river in the Lower 48, the Yellowstone originates in Yellowstone Park, with the most famous stretch running between Gardiner and Livingston. The river is big and broad throughout this area, which makes float fishing the most popular way to spend the afternoon. Two of the best floats are between Carbella and Emigrant—made easier by the new FWP access site at Point of Rocks on river left—and the celebrated “Bird Float” from Grey Owl to Mallard’s Rest. On the Lower ‘Stone, two of the most popular floats are Pig Farm (off the Mission Creek Road) to Springdale and Springdale to Grey Bear. For wade anglers, the “town stretch” between Carter’s Bridge and Mayor’s Landing provides bountiful opportunities for anglers to pursue big fish within city limits.
If you haven’t heard of the Madison River, chances are you don’t fish. The Madison is one of the most famous stretches of water on the planet. The stretch from Hebgen Lake to Ennis Lake is one of the busiest in the state, and for good reason: it boasts some of the region’s most prolific brown and rainbow trout populations. The stretch from Warm Springs to Black’s Ford also has ample access to excellent trout water.
In an area that boasts more famous trout streams than anywhere else in the world, the Gallatin often gets overshadowed by other rivers. But what it lacks in notoriety, this river makes up for in beauty and hungry fish. In the canyon, the area around Durnam Meadow is worth investigating, as is the stretch of water just across from Portal Creek. Down in the valley, the fishing around Williams Bridge can be excellent, as can the fishing around Gallatin Gateway where the side channel allows for easy wading.
The road to Hyalite Reservoir follows this creek and there are plenty of pullouts. A well-presented dry fly will fool these small, abundant rainbows. Try the Irresistable Adams, elk-hair caddis, and Royal Wulff. To increase your odds, drop a small bead-head nymph about 18 inches behind your dry fly. Most any nymph will do, including the old standards: prince, hare’s ear, pheasant tail. For slightly larger fish, head up above the reservoir.