the Yellowstone River
Yellowstone River Fly Fishing Guides & Lodges
Discover the secrets of fishing the blue ribbon rivers with Montana's top guides. Montana Angler offers guided trips, overnights, backcountry fishing and world class lodging packages. Outfitter #10770.
The Yellowstone River in Montana is an exceptionally nice river for
any angler on a Montana fly fishing trip. Besides being home to large
brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout, the Yellowstone River itself has
such a wide variety of habitat that it offers excellent dry fly fishing
as well as sub-surface fishing with nymphs and streamers.
Due to the Yellowstone Rivers length in Montana and the fact that quality
trout fishing can be had from Billings upstream to Yellowstone
National Park, most anglers struggle not with the fly fishing but with attempting
to figure out where to begin. As the river is quite long, it is best
to focus in on a particular stretch of the river instead of driving back
and forth hundreds of miles attempting to fish a couple stretches of
the Yellowstone River. Additionally, the scenery in the Yellowstone River
country is beautiful and quite varied, so don't be bashful about letting
it influence where you fish. After all, the landscape is part of the
experience of any Montana fly fishing trip.
Yellowstone River : Gardiner to Carbella Access Site
This section of the Yellowstone River flows through the upper section of the Paradise
Valley, from Gardiner, which is at the border of Yellowstone
National Park, downstream to the end of Yankee Jim Canyon, marked
by the Carbella Access Site. Cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing dominate
on this stretch.
Before spring run-off occurs in mid-May, which turns the Yellowstone
River into a muddy mess, excellent fishing can be had using small nymphs
such as the Hare's Ear and Pheasant Tail, weighted down to get the nymphs
towards the bottom in the quick current. Additionally, large streamers
and stoneflies, such as Montana Stones, also work well when fished in
the deeper water right along the bank.
A strong Salmon Fly and Golden Stone hatch occurs every year on this
section beginning in late May and lasting until early July. However,
the hatch frequently coincides with spring run-off, turning the water
muddy and murky, greatly reducing the effectiveness of dry fly fishing
the Yellowstone River.
To take advantage of these late-spring and early-summer hatches, nymph
fishing is the technique of choice. The nymph should be large (sizes
4-8), and should be floated in the slower sections of the Yellowstone
River or right along the bank. As the water is murky, darker colors work
The Yellowstone River generally begins to clear up in late June or early
July during normal water years, coinciding with sporadic caddis fly hatches.
Popular dry flies such as the Elk Hair Caddis, although selecting larger
flies will catch the larger fish and reduce the number of whitefish brought
to the net. Compared to the other rivers in Montana, the caddis fly hatches
that occur on this stretch of the Yellowstone River during the summer
are not extensive.
Beginning in late July, and continuing for the rest of the summer, hopper
fishing becomes excellent along this stretch of river. Simply use large
hoppers, sized 4-8, floating them right along the banks. Additionally,
anglers can use streamers like the Marabou Muddler, fishing them in the
deep holes and around the larger rocks.
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