Montana's Spring Bounty: Top Fishing Rivers

Montana Spring Fishing Rivers - Man with a fish
Camille Reddick
Camille Reddick
April 5, 2024

Is fly fishing on Montana's world-famous rivers one of your dreams? Getting big catches in Big Sky Country is easy once you know about the best rivers. Montana offers satisfying adventures for anglers at all levels with its abundant Blue Ribbon rivers. The surrounding scenery creates a majestic, once-in-a-lifetime experience that allows your rod and reel to sync up perfectly with the river's flow.

As all Montanans know, spring is the favorite season for fly fishing among local anglers. The mix of solitude and hefty hatches creates pure magic on many of Montana's rivers. This guide to Montana's best spring fishing rivers shows six spots where trout are always biting!

1. The Yellowstone River

Springtime fishing at Yellowstone River is mostly focused around the town of Livingston. Originating at Yellowstone National Park, the tenacious Yellowstone is home to abundant populations of rainbow and brown trout. Its status as the longest undammed river in the United States gives it a reputation for being a wild and untamed waterway.

2. The Gallatin River

Known for being a swift, cold river that runs clear in the spring, Gallatin provides miles and miles of accessible water running parallel to U.S. Route 191 via Gallatin Canyon. Cinema fans will instantly recognize the topography from 1992's "A River Runs Through It." However, the Gallatin was referred to as the Blackfoot River in the film.

3. The Missouri River

The Madison River

The mighty Missouri is considered the gold standard for fly fishing, boasting thousands of trout per mile. It's not uncommon for anglers to bring in more than one 20-inch trout in a single cast. While the Missouri River is a hotbed in the spring, this waterway is one of Montana's few true year-round fisheries.

4. The Madison River

Many anglers access the Madison River via Ennis, Montana, to experience what is viewed as a rite of passage. The area known as the "lower" Madison below the Ennis Dam is legendary among anglers. Swift and challenging, the Madison River requires anglers to learn its patterns to plug into its large populations of healthy and robust rainbow and brown trout. One interesting tidbit to know before heading to the lower portion of the Madison River is that the area is known for its abundant crawfish population!

5. The Bighorn River

Fly fishing on Bighorn delights anglers with overflowing ratios of fish per mile. The rainbow and brown trout here are known for their size. A tributary of the Yellowstone River, the Bighorn River spans over 400 miles across Montana and Wyoming.

6. The Blackfoot River

Known for its ultra-clear waters, the Blackfoot River is a favorite among anglers for many reasons. Considered the ideal freestone trout stream, the Blackfoot River is famed for its cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. Some of Montana's best scenery is on display by the riverbed. This waterway originates at the Continental Divide in Lewis and Clark County.

Making Room for Adventure and Leisure During Your Montana Vacation

There's nothing as invigorating as spending a few hours at one of Montana's best spring fishing rivers! Of course, you don't necessarily have to catch your feast to enjoy an amazing meal in Billings. After a long day of fishing, why not relax in one of our comfy hotel rooms in Billings, Montana at Dude Rancher Lodge!

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