Gallatin River Montana Fly Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Gallatin River

Gaining notoriety from the classic film 'A River Runs Through It', the Gallatin River is known as being one of the finest wade fishing rivers in Montana.

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  • Gallatin River fishing showcases rainbow, cutthroat, brown, cutthroat and grayling.
  • Wading gear is recommended as most of the river is closed to float fishing. As the river follows HWY 191 for much of its course, there are plenty of wading opportunities.
  • Yellowstone fishing licenses are good only in the park. A Montana license is required for fishing outside the park boundary.
  • Utilizing the knowledge of local fly shops and guide services is a perfect first step to a successful fishing trip.


The headwaters of the Gallatin River are located high in the mountains of northwestern Yellowstone. From Gallatin Lake outlet, the river flows 25 miles until it reaches the park boundary near West Yellowstone. From there, the river travels another 40 miles through additional public lands known for its mountainous landscapes, excellent wade fishing and white water rafting. After passing through the town of Bozeman, the Gallatin enters onto private land with limited access until it reaches the Missouri River.

Fishable Sections

The Gallatin is a smaller river and often wadeable from bank to bank. Anglers coming to the Gallatin will find smaller species of rainbow, cutthroat, brown, brook, and grayling captured in some of the most beautiful scenery the West has to offer. Gallatin River fishing is perhaps most notable within Yellowstone as well as the 40 mile section outside the park above Spanish Creek. Float fishing is not permitted on much of the Gallatin, however as the river parallels Highway 191 along the upper reaches, there is ample wade fishing access. 

Fishing Seasons

Prime fishing on the Gallatin occurs from June through September. June and July bring the salmonfly and other varied hatches, keeping the fish looking at the surface. Outside the park, the Gallatin is often discolored into early July due to runoff from Taylor's Fork. Until this section is clear, fishing in the park is the best bet.

August brings hoppers and other terrestrials as well as solitude. As the crowds thin, the fishing picks up during this time, providing ideal angling conditions through September and often into October.

Winter fishing from February through April is often enjoyable with temperatures in the 40's and hungry fish ready for midge fishing.

Spring fishing on the Gallatin varies with the weather. If the temperatures warm enough, the midge hatches proliferate and the fishing turns on.

With an impressive array of more than 200 species of insects, the Gallatin is a perfect river to test your skills with attractor patterns. For the sure fire fly, stop in at the local shops and guide services.

In the Spotlight

Other Gallatin River Resources

Missouri River

The Gallatin joins the Jefferson and Madison rivers to form the Missouri River.