Montana is blessed with dozens of wonderful fishing towns, where trout bums can set up shop and spend the rest of their lives within casting distance of some of the best blue ribbon trout fisheries the U.S. has to offer.
Of those fishing towns, it doesn’t get much better than Livingston, says Matt Wilhelm, owner of Yellowstone Fly Fishing School (yellowstoneflyfishingschool.com, 406-223-0918).
Wilhelm, who grew up in Northern Michigan, lives in Livingston, in the shadow of the Absaroka Mountains where he calls the Yellowstone River and its tributaries his home waters – where fishing is often solid from Billings (another awesome fly fishing town by the way) all the way upstream to Yellowstone National Park.
He also enjoys fishing the Paradise Valley spring creeks, and the waters of Yellowstone National Park.
According to Wihelm, some of the best destinations for newcomers include the Yellowstone River, Madison River and Boulder River, where anglers can catch everything from cutthroat trout and brown trout, to rainbow trout and brook trout.
If Wilhelm had just one tip for his favorite, Yellowstone River, it would be to “do a guided trip of either a half day or full day to learn about local waters and what techniques are productive from local experts.
“Then go out on your own with this newfound knowledge.”
One additional tidbit from Wihelm:
“Be sure to know the local fishing regulations,” he said. “The rules for keeping fish vary and are species dependent. Yellowstone Park has different regulations from neighboring states as well.”
Tom Miner Bridge to Livingston
This is one of the most heavily fished sections of the Yellowstone River, and for good reason, the fishing here is tremendous and the trout are big, from Tom Minger Bridge on down to Carter’s Bridge.
Along the way are stops at Emigrant, one of the easiest access points, and Mallard’s Rest, which allows anglers to fish some deeper pools and cast up against the banks.
Carter’s Bridge is located about five miles south of Livingston, where you’ll find a handful of fly shops if you need to stock up on flies or in need of pointers.
Livingston to Columbus
The Lower River from Livingston to Columbus isn’t as heavily fished because of fewer fish and fewer riffles and pools.
But these sections of the river can also turn in a hurry, particularly late in the summer and early fall when the terrestrials come out and play along the river’s edge.
This is when tucking ’hoppers tight against the banks can lead to some big fish and even bigger takes.
When fishing a hopper or a large dry, tie on a dropper rig, casting upstream and letting the line and indicator return the same speed as the current when possible.
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