Yellowstone National Park
The Gallatin River

Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park

The Gallatin River

Gallatin River in Yellowstone National ParkThe Gallatin River in Yellowstone National Park is another very beautiful river. Starting high in the mountains at Gallatin Lake, it tumbles down for 12 miles to end up in a broad and scenic valley that is located in the far Northwest section of the park. The river then runs for an additional 11 miles through this beautiful valley until leaving Yellowstone Park and entering Montana. This valley section of the Gallatin River is the most popular for fishing and also has the most productive fishing.

Access to the lower section of the Gallatin River is excellent. Highway 191 begins to closely parallel the Gallatin River soon after it emerges from the mountains, and follows it all the way down through the park and well into Montana. Just pull off the road on one of the many pullouts and take the short hike over to the river. Since the valley consists of small brush and grass, hiking along the river is simple, although some marshy areas can make things wet at times.

Gallatin River in Yellowstone National ParkThe Gallatin River is quite small while in Yellowstone National Park. At times, it seems that a person could jump across it. The Gallatin twists and turns extensively, and has numerous undercut banks and some appealing holes. Since the water is quite clear and so small, careful presentation and a cautious approach are needed to avoid spooking the fish.

Fishing pressure on the Gallatin River is moderate. While it is a popular river for fishing, particularly among the locals, the easy access for much of its length spreads anglers around. Solitude, as well as the best fishing conditions, will best be found by locating where the river is located furthest from the road and taking the easy hike over to it.

The Gallatin River in the valley section has excellent fly fishing for both rainbow and brown trout. Average rainbow size is 12 inches. Brown trout average between 12-14 inches, although some lunkers exceeding twenty inches can be found in the river.

The trout in the Gallatin River can be found in all types of water. The brown trout will be found around holes and undercut banks. That said, pay careful attention to all the water. It is not unusual to find large trout in places few think would hold fish, such as in the very shallow riffles that are found on the Gallatin.

Not surprisingly, since the Gallatin River runs through this meadow, terrestrial fishing is excellent using hopper imitations, sized 4-10, beginning in July and lasting through September. The dry fly fisherman can also have success beginning in July using Elk Hair Caddis, Pale Morning Duns, the Green Drake, and the X-Caddis, in sizes 14-18. Streamers can also be gingerly used around the undercut banks and in the holes. Attractor patterns such as the Royal Wulff also can work exceptionally well during the summer, and are an excellent alternative to using terrestrials.

Note, the Gallatin River continues beyond Yellowstone Park. To learn more about the river outside of Yellowstone, read the Gallatin River in Montana section too.


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