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Bozeman, MT

Photo via Flickr

Wide rivers, big mountains, open plains — the Bozeman area offers everything a fly fishing fanatic could want.

Bozeman is quintessential fly-fishing country. Just minutes away is the Gallatin River canyon where glinting fly lines were etched into Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It. The Madison, Yellowstone and Missouri rivers are just a few of the other nearby streams fed by the region's many high mountain ranges.

Fishing is available year-round for rainbows, browns, cutthroats and more. The spring run-off (typically lasting a couple weeks starting mid- or late-May) makes some of the main rivers less fishable, but because of the number and variety of streams (including tailwaters), there's almost always something fishing well. Come for the "Mothers Day" caddis hatch on the Madison River, or in late summer when trout hammer hopper patterns in bank-side riffles. Some of the most memorable days of the season occur during the early summer salmon fly hatch, when 20-inch-plus trout gorge themselves on the thumb-sized bugs. Smaller, backcountry creeks and alpine lakes also provide excellent dry-fly fishing throughout the summer. The frost in autumn brings a chance to take large spawning browns with streamer patterns.

Most of the region's streams are wadeable, but drift floats open up access to more remote stretches of water and are often the best way to fish the bigger rivers like the Yellowstone. Most guides accommodate both wade and drift fishing. Several lakes and reservoirs offer opportunities to take trout, bass and other species on fly or spin tackle.

Yellowstone National Park is less than 80 miles from Bozeman, and the fishing here is set against an immense landscape. From almost any stream of lake, the mountains are in view under Montana's Big Sky.

Basic Info
  • 39° 24° Dec-Feb
  • 56° 49° Mar-May
  • 81° 64° Jun-Aug
  • 63° 45° Sep-Nov
Madison River, Yellowstone River, Gallatin River, East Gallatin River, Jefferson River, Missouri River
Fishing license info here: here

The Catch

Top fish species to target in Bozeman, MT

Arctic Grayling

Small, somewhat elusive, and distinct looking, Grayling can be a welcome suprise when fishing for other species, known for the large sail-like dorsal fin.

Brook Trout

Especially prevelant, sometimes over populated, in high elevation lakes and streams, these fish have one spots and multi-colored fins.

Brown Trout

Large dark spotting pattern makes this fish stand out against the other trouts. They can be tough to catch and strong. Look for fall runs.


These fish are particularly resilient and thrive in slow moving to standing water. In some cases considered a destructive invasive species.

Cutthroat Trout

These fish look similar to Rainbows but with more spotting and the distinctive red slash near the throat.

Mountain Whitefish

Favoring cold clear water, these small cylindrical fish mostly inhabit mountain lakes and streams.

Northern Pike

Can grow quite huge and are often the fiercest fish in waters inhabited by trout and other smaller species.

Rainbow Trout

Adult fish are distinguished by a broad reddish stripe along the lateral line, from gills to the tail, which is most vivid in breeding males.


Olive and gold in color, Walleyes are native to Canada and the Northern US. They have good vision and thus feed most in low visibility water conditions.

More Bozeman Outfitters

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