The beauty of Montana, especially southwestern Montana, exists between the lines. We aren’t talking about the boundary lines set by society or government, but of the lines of the reel and rod cast into the river. Often called the “last best place”, Bozeman and the surrounding cities offer anglers unparalleled access to hundreds of rivers, creeks, ponds, lakes and tributaries. Enough open water to satisfy even the biggest of fishing fanatics in the world. The only main question contemplated by each fisherman is, “What river to fish on?”
Here are three rivers that are a must fish if you are in southwestern Montana and looking to cast a line:
The Gallatin runs from Yellowstone National Park all the way through Big Sky, Belgrade and Manhattan. It offers close proximity to the city of Bozeman and is centered around wade fishing. The high water flow from spring runoff and the dangerous, rocks, trees, and bends make this river tough to navigate when rowing a pontoon or fishing craft. There are, however, many access points scattered along the river and finding your own little nook just takes some patience and a little walking.
The Yellowstone River is one of the largest around and offers avid fly fisherman a chance to catch monster trout in the awe inspiring Paradise Valley. Because of the speed and flow, and the fact that a majority of the river is bordered by private land, it is best floated with a boat or raft that can handle class two and three rapids. Whether you are chasing the Mother’s Day Caddis frenzy or summer Hopper Hatch as they frolic about the water, the Yellowstone will leave you dazzled with its deep history and reputation for luring fisherman back for more.
Nestled between Quake Lake and the Three Forks Valley lies a slower, wider river that offers venues for both floaters and wade fisherman alike. Known for its abundance of large Brown Trout, the Madison is a must fish for anyone looking to experience a river with multiple tributaries and side channels set in remote locations with nothing but dirt roads and telephone poles in sight. A perfect backdrop for families with its numerous swimming holes, tranquil banks for relaxing riverside with a book, or just a calm float on a tube or paddle board.
Whatever river you should choose, know that there is no right choice. Each river of Montana offers a unique experience with their diversified landscaping, views, and wildlife while still harboring adventure, entertainment and, of course, amazing fishing. Make sure to stop by a local fishing store for information on what the fish are feeding on in the current time of year and where the best stretches to fish are located. As you explore more and more of the waters of Montana, may the allure and vivaciousness of the outdoors remind you that true Montana beauty isn’t meant for the impatient onlooker, but for the ones who have the heart to adventure into the unknown.
This article brought to you by:
John Clay Foster & Brittany Foster