Montana Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing the Stillwater River

Boulder River

The Stillwater River

Stillwater River above the town of Nye, Montana
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It is always interesting how rivers get their names. If a list were ever compiled of misnamed rivers, then surely the Stillwater would be near the top of the list. Despite its name, the Stillwater River has huge amounts of whitewater, large drops, tons or rocks and a very swift current. It is anything but still. Indeed, a fisherman or floater will have to look hard to find the calm stretches of this river.

The Stillwater River begins high in the mountains of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area. The river flows for more than twenty miles through the wilderness area before leaving the mountains behind and spilling out into the rolling prairie and canyons that lie outside the wilderness area. Once it leaves the wilderness area, the Stillwater River flows for another 45 miles through a mix of canyons, prairie and forest until meeting up with the Yellowstone River near the town of Columbus, Montana - which is about 45 miles from Billings, MT.

Stillwater River at Castle Rock
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The Stillwater River is an absolutely beautiful and wild river. The Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to any fishing or float trip. Fishing pressure on the Stillwater River is moderate - most out of state anglers venture to the much more popular and well known nearby rivers such as the Yellowstone Rive. That said, lots of locals ply the waters of the Stillwater in search of the plentiful rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout that are found in the river.

Since the first twenty miles of the Stillwater River are in the wilderness area, access is excellent, although it requires a hike or horseback ride in to reach it. Once the Stillwater River leaves the wilderness, access for most of its length is good due to numerous road, bridge and designated fishing access sites.

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