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The Best Fly Fishing Spots in Montana

Exploring the Beauty and Serenity of Montana’s Rivers and Streams

Montana is a state known for its vast landscapes, towering mountains, and pristine waterways, all of which make it an angler’s paradise. However, nothing captures the essence of Montana quite like fly fishing. The rivers and streams in this state have inspired countless literary works and have become the lifeline of both visitors and residents.

Fly fishing season in Montana stretches from spring runoff to summer and fall, with some spots offering exceptional fishing even in the bitterly cold winter months. It is almost a cultural requirement to fish these abundant waterways, and local outfitters are always ready to provide guidance and insider knowledge. All you need is a Montana fishing license and a passion for the sport.

Here, we present a list of the best fly fishing spots in Montana, where you can embark on a lifetime hobby and experience the true spirit of the state.

1. Gallatin River

Originating in Yellowstone National Park, the Gallatin River winds its way through the picturesque Gallatin Canyon and Valley, eventually joining the Jefferson and Madison rivers to form the Missouri River. This scenic river offers excellent fly fishing opportunities, both within the national park and outside of it. Rainbow and brown trout are aplenty, and with careful presentation, anglers can have a successful day on the water. The river flows through public national forest land, providing several access points for anglers to spread out and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

2. Madison River

The Madison River is world-renowned for its scenic beauty, abundant access, and varied fishing conditions. Located near Bozeman, it attracts anglers from across the globe. The river begins within Yellowstone National Park and flows for over 20 miles through its pristine waters. Below Quake Lake, the river stretches for over 50 miles through Madison Valley, known as the “50-Mile Riffle.” This section of the river caters to both wade and float fishing, making it a popular destination for anglers of all skill levels.

3. Missouri River

Lewis and Clark placed the Missouri River in the history books, and today, it continues to attract anglers from all over the world. The stretch below Holter Dam, about 40 miles north of Helena, is a hotspot for trout anglers. Abundant access points along Interstate 15 make this section easily accessible, and the river boasts big hatches throughout the spring and summer months. Both wade and float fishing are popular here, but be prepared to encounter other anglers during the warmer seasons.

4. Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone River is one of the longest free-flowing waterways in the country, and its waters within Montana offer prime fly fishing conditions. From its origins in Yellowstone National Park, the river flows through paradise valley, a breathtaking landscape that attracts anglers year-round. While the section between Gardiner and Livingston receives the most fishing pressure, venturing farther downstream provides opportunities for solitude. The wide river is best enjoyed by floating, but wade fishing is also possible in certain areas.

5. Blackfoot River

Thanks to the famous book and movie adaptation of “A River Runs Through It,” the Blackfoot River gained recognition and appreciation. Today, it is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. The river winds for 130 miles, offering anglers the chance to fish in various landscapes, from mountain peaks to rolling farmland. Rainbow trout are prevalent in this blue-ribbon river, and its clean, clear waters attract thousands of visitors every year.

6. Big Hole River

The Big Hole River in southwest Montana offers 150 miles of postcard-like fly fishing. With its origins in the Bitterroot Mountains and its passage through the picturesque Big Hole Valley, this river provides ample opportunities to reel in various trout species. The changing scenery and river flow make for an exciting fishing experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, the Big Hole River is a must-visit destination.

7. Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork River, stretching from Butte to the Idaho border, offers diverse fly fishing opportunities. Divided into upper and lower sections, the river changes dramatically along its path, providing anglers

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