Fly Fishing

No West Yellowstone Lodging or visit is complete without doing some fishing! West Yellowstone is located in the heart of fly fishing country, and fishing in Yellowstone National Park is a favorite pastime.  Several of the most fabled streams and rivers in the world are within a fifty-mile radius of town, including the Madison River, Gallatin River, Yellowstone River, and Henry's Fork of the Snake River.  

A short drive into Yellowstone National Park brings you to the upper Madison, the Firehole, and the Gibbon rivers.  Yellowstone also offers a multitude of small lakes and streams which await the ambitious angler.  High quality lake fishing is available on Hebgen Lake and Quake Lake as well as Henry's Lake and Island Park Reservoir, all a short drive from West Yellowstone.   

Spring Season Late May to June 20:
Each year in late May, on the Saturday before Memorial Day, the general fishing season opens in Yellowstone National Park.  The Firehole River, named for its many geysers and hot springs, is one of the best early season streams in which to entice that acrobatic rainbow or cagey brown. Small dry flies, like the pale morning parachute, will work best.

On June 15 the fishing in Yellowstone Lake opens for the season.  Fishing along the shoreline with a small nymph or Wooly Bugger will produce Yellowstone black spotted cutthroat trout that are native to the Yellowstone drainage.

Another great fishery in full swing in early June is Henry's Fork of the Snake River, known for its great mix of water types, prolific hatches of aquatic insects, and some of the best dry fly fishing in the world.

Summer Season June 20 to August 1:
The upper Madison, Firehole, and Gibbon rivers in the park are good choices during late June and the first part of July.  Small mayflies and caddis will hatch almost every morning and evening.  Great evening hatches of caddis and Rusty Spinners bring the big fish to the surface.

July has been noted as the "Month the Madison Goes Wild."  Usually, around the last week of June, rivers and steams have a population of wild native trout.  Starting in the high elevations of Yellowstone and flowing north into Montana along Highway 191, the Gallatin River is a clear, cold mountain stream.  Due to the late runoff and cold temperature, the Gallatin River is most productive from mid-July through late fall.

Early Fall September 1 to 20:
Because of the cooler conditions in the high country at this time of year, much of the insect activity is focused during the middle of the day.  Small mayflies and some caddis can hatch on the Firehole, Madison, Henry's fork and many of the smaller streams. 

About September 10, the brown trout in Hebgen Lake will have started their annual spawning run.  The average size spawner is from two to three pounds.  The Platte River, Light Spruce and the Wooly Bugger are favorite flies.

Late Fall September 20 to October 31:
Along with the fall run of brown trout out of Hebgen Lake, we have a fall run of large rainbow trout.  These rainbows will also average from two to three pounds with some larger.  Most of the fishing in late fall is on the upper Madison River near West Yellowstone.  The Firehole, Gibbon and the South Fork of the Madison also have fall runs of brown trout.  

Anglers 16 years of age or older must be in possession of a valid Yellowstone National Park fishing permit to fish in the park. State fishing licenses are not valid and aren't required. Park rangers may check permits and inspect tackle, fish, creels, or other containers where fish or tackle may be stored.

Anglers 15 years of age or younger have two options:
  • Children 15 or younger may fish without a permit if they are fishing under the direct supervision of an adult who has a valid park fishing permit.
  • Children 15 or younger may obtain a free permit that must be signed by a responsible adult. With this permit, a child can fish without direct adult supervision. With either option, the accompanying adult is responsible for the child’s actions and must ensure the child complies with all fishing regulations and provisions
  • Arrick's Fly Shop | 406-646-7290 |
  • Bud Lilly's Trout Shop | 406-646-7801 | 
  • Madison River Outfitters | 406-646-9644 | 
  • Blue Ribbon Flies | 406-646-7642 |
  • Big Sky Anglers | 406-646-7801 | 
  • Eagles Store | 406-646-9300 | | (family owned and operated equipment store)
  • Yellowstone Fishing Guides | 406-640-1603 |