Experienced fly fishers have Montana as one of the top destinations on their bucket list. This beautiful state is one of the best places for trout fishing in the United States. Some would say that it is even the best place for fishing in the world. There are dozens of fly fishing Montana locations and all of them are a must-visit, whether you are a beginner or an experienced fly fisher.
Montana fly fishing locations are endless, but some of the most popular ones are Bitterroot River, Blackfoot River, and Clark Fork River. Keep reading to find out more about the best locations where you can fly fish in Montana.
Fly Fishing Montana Destinations
1. Clark Fork River
Clark Fork River is for you if you enjoy throwing trout flies to pods of rising fish. You can enjoy dry fly fishing at this destination all day long if the hatches and the weather allow you to. Whether it is mahoganies in the fall, hoppers in August, or PMD in July, you will be able to notice fish rising.
To give you the amount of fish we are just going to say that this fly fishing Montana destination has more than 30 fish rising in a back eddy! Visit the Clark Fork River at any time of the year and you will, most likely, be able to catch some fish – the river is alive throughout the whole year!
2. Boulder River
Head up to the Boulder River when the water temperatures rise and all the bigger rivers are crowded with people. This river holds a very impressive rainbow and brown trout. It is a classic mountain river with pocket water and rocky riffles. And, maybe the most important, a lot of mid-stream rocks allowing trout to have something to hold behind.
Make sure you don’t miss the stretch between the Two-Mile Bridge and Natural Bridge for some catch-and-release time with brown and rainbow trout. Cast a dry and dropper combo if you come to the upper Boulder during the summer.
3. Firehole River
Montana fly fishing at the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park is one of the few otherworldly experiences you can have. Mudpots bubble and geysers erupt as bison and elk graze along its banks. Even the river has some smoke! You need to go early in the season if you want to fish this river to achieve the best results. It is best to visit this location in May when the winter is fully gone.
Experienced fishers recommend using a wet fly at this destination. Brown and rainbow trout are not big, but it is always hard to deal with them. Keep in mind that you need a special license to fish here.
4. Yellowstone River
The longest undammed river in the United States is the Yellowstone River. Residents say that you could fish for your whole life and that you still wouldn’t be even close to exhausting the potential this river has. South of Livingston is the Paradise Valley – one of the most productive sections that you don’t wanna miss if you go fly fishing in Montana. You can enjoy a beautiful green valley next to you and the Absaroka Mountain Range right next to the river if you go to visit this place. Not to mention that there’s some huge fish in it! It is also one of the healthiest rivers in Montana.
5. Hyalite Reservoir
Hyalite Reservoir is located in the Gallatin Mountain Range and it holds a 200-acre of blue-green water. Hyalite is a great place to fish for native, wild fish when the rivers in the area turn into torrents of chocolate milk after the spring runoff.
Hungry arctic grayling and cutthroats are looking for food usually in May, and this is when you can visit the location to catch them. Grayling is a very interesting type of fish that you can’t find at most places. It has an iridescent dorsal fin and a delicate mouth, allowing it to inhabit only clean, cold water.
6. Madison River
The Madison River is born where the Firehole and Gibbon meet, in the Yellowstone National Park, and you don’t want to miss it if you go Montana fly fishing. The best part of it is between the town of Ennis and Quake Lake. Residents usually refer to this part as “the 50-mile rifle”. Local fishermen say that you can fish traditional pocket water, buckets, and riffles.
The whole upper part of the stretch is ideal for fishing rainbow and brown trout, and there’s no problem with public access either. The fish can be up to 18 inches in length here if you visit the place at the right time.
7. Ruby River
Ruby River is another fly fishing Montana location that uncoils from the Gravelly Mountain Range. A 40-mile stretch between Twin Bridges and Ruby Reservoir meanders through willows, alder, and cottonwoods. The river is full of picky brown trout and undercuts banks.
Fishermen weren’t able to access this location until the late 90s when few public access sites were secured. There’s a lot of private properties today, but you still get the chance to visit the valley and have the opportunity to visit this narrow river and catch some hefty brown trout.
8. Bighorn River
Many fishermen consider Bighorn River to be one of the best in the world, and among the finest fishery in the state. There’s about 6,000 fish per mile squared in the Bighorn’s clear water, making it an ideal place for Montana fly fishing. The fish is bigger here – about 20 inches in length (and bigger).
The most popular months for fishing are from July to September. Still, this river fishes pretty good all year long, unlike many other Montana rivers. The best part of the river is the upper 13 miles according to most fishermen.
9. Blackfoot River
There’s a good reason why this river is considered to be the home of Montana fly fishing. This Western freestone river holds the classical beauty that many fishermen adore. This river is a home for bull, cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout. Stoneflies and salmon fly hatch in early summer, which is also the best time to visit the Blackfoot river.
These hatches work the best according to local fishermen, but you can also use modern stimulators. Go to the Harry Morgan access if you have a boat and you will be able to have some good catches to Russ Gates.
10. Rock Creek
Rock Creek is very similar to Blackfoot River just a bit smaller. It flows for 50 miles between the Garnet and Sapphire mountain ranges. It represents a classic Western stream that many local fishermen love. It is fished often due to its proximity to Missoula. Still, there’s more than enough water to search the place for the best spot. There’s plenty of cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout during the summer months when the salmon lure is available.
Q: What is the best time of year to fly fish in Montana?
The best time for fly fishing Montana is during the summer months – July to September. This is when the fish is great, the weather is consistent, and there’s also a lot of other fishermen. Also, the famous salmonfly hatch is available during summer.
Q: Where is the best trout fishing in Montana?
There’s a lot of trout almost at every location in Montana. Still, we recommend visiting Clark Fork River, Blackfoot River, Boulder River, and Firehole River for the best results. Other locations are also accessible, just pick the one that is the closest to you.
Q: How much is a fishing license in Montana?
You can expect to be charged about $31 for a full fishing license. $21 for the season fishing license, $2 for AIS pass, and $8 for the conservation license. Visit the official licensing website to purchase your license. Additional charges may be needed at certain destinations.
Q: Can I buy a Montana fishing license online?
Yes, you can buy a Montana fishing license online. Visit the Fish, Wildlife & Parks website to get more information. There are other authorized license providers where you can get your license. You have to be at least 15 years old to get the fishing license in Montana.
Q: How much does it cost to fish in Yellowstone?
The cost of fishing in Yellowstone will depend on the number of days you want to spend fishing. There are three permit options: $18 for a 3-day permit, $25 for a 7-day permit, and $40 for a full season permit. Fishing without a permit is only allowed for children under the age of 15.
Globo Surf Overview
Visiting Montana for a fly fishing session is something that every aspired fisherman should do. There are dozens of locations full of fish waiting for you. Usually, locations are near local shops where you can buy hatches and other necessary fishing accessories. Your experience will just get better if you have a boat to enjoy the beautiful sceneries and colors of Montana’s rivers.