Gallatin River Fishing Report


Again, a short window of good green water over the weekend with lower flows and less mud. On the rise again today, and that window will quickly evaporate. Best to head south of Big Sky and fish the stretch between the park and Taylor Creek. It will be clear up there. I like a size 12 chubby to a small lightning bug for that classic meadow type cutthroat water. 

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Dirty water below Big Sky right now, but much better conditions above the Taylor Fork. Fish the stretch between there and the Park boundary until the Park opens up. Small, meadow-type water with fiesty trout. I would try the dry dropper rig, with a longer tippet section to your dropper nymph, maybe like 3 feet, under a smaller chubby. This way you have a delicate presentation for that smaller water, but still can get down a bit deeper in the buckets. Look for gravel shelves, cut banks, any place the fish will feel safe from predators, but still  have oxygen and food floating by. Mind your shadow in the small clear water too, as shadows will spook the fish. 

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Green is good on the Gallatin! Don't let the non-clear water scare you. If you have a foot of visibility, keep your flies dark or flashy and seek out those softer pockets, especially the higher the water gets. Smaller mega prince, black rubber legs, worms and eggs, and shiny trailer nymphs are good examples of green water flies. 

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One of the steadier bets lately, especially in the valley. Your standard rubberlegs and worms will work and if they aren't keying in on that we have been going small, like a double chironomid rig. Try a bigger size 12 or 14 one up front, like a brassie, with a smaller zebra midge off the back. Most of the fish have been holding on the seems between the fast and slow currents. The rainbow trout in the Gallatin seem to be slightly ahead of schedule compared to the Madison and Yellowstone. If its really windy out there, try sneaking in to the canyon to find some relief. 

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Good reports coming from the valley lately. A trip this way a few days ago produced steady fishing. Mostly average sized rainbows coming on a stonefly nymph or bright worm pattern. Concentrate on the seams where fast water transitions to slow water. This gives the trout the best of both worlds, conveyor belt of food in the fast water as they sit in the slow water. Look for inside bends , buckets behind boulders and that sexy downed-tree-cutbank brown trout water.

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A great option right now. In and around Big Sky will stay consistant all winter long. Working back downstream through the canyon, as of right now is mostly free of ice and fishing good. Fly selection will not change all that much through the remainder of winter. A rubberlegs will act as a great weight source to get that small zebra midge to sink down to where the fish are. Some rainbow trout have started to move up into the heads of the runs in SLIGHTLY faster moving water. As the seasons change, its always a good idea to scout different types of water until you figure out where in the pools and runs the fish are holding. 

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Plenty of ice in the valley right now, even most of the canyon has big ice shelves. We were at Storm Castle recently, and parts there were ice bank to bank. Driving up closer to Big Sky often pays off with less ice in certain runs. Even right in Big Sky can be very good mid-winter with less ice. Fish the slower deeper pockets with a size 10-8 rubberlegs. Maybe a zebra midge or worm dropped off the back. Split shot can make a good day great, getting your flies down in a hurry to where the fish are this time of year. 

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After a period of crazy high flows over on the Gallatin, things have stabilized and the river is running with good clearity and flow level. Pick your poison between nymphing pocket water in the canyon or pulling meat through the long twists and turns of the valley stretch. For streamers I like the mid sized stuff over on the Gallatin, maybe a JJ Special or some sort of zonker variation. Go deep with the nymphs, get them down to the fish and keep them there as long as possible with your drift. Smallish stonefly nymphs, followed by a zebra midge or BWO nymph pattern. The power of worms and eggs will become even more potent as we enter the winter season as well. 

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A great option right now. For a quick outing close to town, the Gallatin is hard to beat. The entire river is open to fishing with no Hoot Owl closures. In the valley I like the small/medium size streamers on the swing or strip. The streamer bite will continue to get better as Fall continues. In the canyon, its hard to beat a smallish dark rubberlegs under the indicator if quantity of trout is your main priority. Trout will start to search out the slower water as temps decrease later into the season. BWO hatches are always a possibilty, especially in the lower stretches of the river.

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525 cfs

Spruce moths are here!  This is one of the brights spots in the dog days of summer.  Get up in the Canyon towards Big Sky and bring your big, Size 10/12 tan caddis dries.  Not cooperating on the dry?  Maybe drop a small, shiny nymph off the back.  Still not doing it for ya?  Go deep with a stonefly-dropper nymph rig.  Once again, early bird with a good drift gets the worm.  And don't overlook the secondary spots!


Also, keep in mind that you cannot fish after 2 p.m. downstream of Four Corners per the Hoot Owl restrictions put in place by Montana FWP.  No matter, the water temps are nice and cool up in the Canyon.


Flies: anything spruce moth (big caddis), copper johns, lightning bug, prince nymph, stimulators, rubberlegs

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