The Yellowstone River is one of the greatest trout streams of the world and holds the title for the longest undammed, known as a ‘freestone’ river in the lower 48 states. There is outstanding trout water from its tributaries high inside Yellowstone Park, downstream through Gardiner, the Paradise Valley, Livingston, and down below Big Timber; a total of almost two hundred river miles. We float fish several different sections of the prime trout water between Gardiner and Big Timber, depending on the time of year, water conditions, and water levels.
The Yellowstone is a large river varying from 75 to 300 feet. in width. It is wadable later in the summer when flows drop but there is no question it is best fished from a drift boat. You’ll see much more water to present your fly which increases your opportunities to catch fish. The section through “Paradise Valley” is the most scenic and this is also some of the best Montana fly fishing. The sections closer to Livingston holds the highest numbers of trout. Here you’ll find a healthy mix of browns, rainbows, and our native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, and Rocky Mountain Whitefish.
The Yellowstone’s hatch list includes Mother’s Day Caddis, Salmon flies, Pale Morning Duns, Yellow Sallie’s, Summer Stones, and terrestrials.
The Yellowstone offers diverse types of holding water, from the fast pocket water at Tom Miner Bridge to Point Of Rocks where the gradient lessens and the river changes to more long, deep pools with wide riffles and wide, flat tailouts. Downstream past Mallards rest through Paradise Valley is where the spring creeks join the river. This section is one of the most popular with breathtaking views of the Absaroka to the east and Gallatin mountains to the west. The section through Livingston known as the “town run” is a local favorite and offers some great wade fishing opportunities once the flows have dropped later in the summer.
FishTales Outfitting LLC is a licensed Outfitter with the State of Montana's Board of Outfitters
and Permittee for the Madison, Big Hole and Beaverhead Rivers.
Site Photography: Bruce McDaniel and Vic Sorensen
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