The Yellowstone River is 692 miles of wild water, staking its claim in the fishing world as the longest undammed river in the lower 48. There are plenty of opportunities for fly fishing, from easy roadside stops to more involved hiking, wading, and floating trips. You may have heard that here in Montana, a river runs through it. Well, the stories are true. Here’s everything you need to know about fly fishing on the Yellowstone River.
When you set up a fishing base in the Paradise Valley, whether at the south end in Gardiner or the north end in Livingston, you have several different options for stocking up on gear. You might need a new setup, or there might be a few flies you forgot to bring, you could need expert advice on how the river’s running, or just a cool beverage and some snacks for your pack; you have options on how to get what you need.
Parks’ Fly Shop in Gardiner can get you going with the gear to get you going. This is a no-frills stop meant to get fishermen on the river without a whole lot of extras. If you forgot your fishing shirt or are looking for a souvenir, there are other outfitters in town to help you out. If you need a dry fly recommendation or some custom flies tied, Parks’ is the place to stop. There’s also a market and convenience store in Gardiner for quick stops for fuel before you head out. Or you can grab some grub to go from the town’s favorite restaurants.
In Livingston, you have Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop, Hatch Finders Fly Shop, and Sweetwater Fly Shop—among others—to choose from. There are also plenty of other spots to pick up food and drink to keep you going while you cast.
You’ll be casting for rainbow trout, brown trout, Yellowstone cutthroat, and whitefish in this section of the river.
Near Livingston, you have plenty of approved access points to the Yellowstone River, so wade on in from Mayor’s Landing, the 9th Street Island, Carter’s Bridge, or HWY 89. You also have a good, solid float option from Carter’s Bridge Fishing Access Site to Highway 89, according to Fins and Feathers, but they warn to watch out for obstacles and some patches of rougher water. You can also find more fishing access sites as you drive south into the Paradise Valley.
Keep in mind that when you fish inside Yellowstone National Park, your Montana state fishing license does not apply, and you’ll need to pick up a permit from a ranger station. But there are plenty of stretches of the Yellowstone worth fishing within park boundaries, especially if you’re looking to catch the famous Yellowstone cutthroat trout. You can find remote sections with hardly any pressure if you’re willing to hike up above Yellowstone Lake. But most people head between the lake and Upper Falls.
Pick up your fishing license, grab your bear spray, and get ready to head out there on the Yellowstone River.