The Magnificent Waters of the Yellowstone area...
For fly fishers, there is probably no other single area that offers more than the area within a 50 mile radius surrounding West Yellowstone Montana. The many and differing rivers and streams, the lakes, the incredible scenery and the wildlife all combine to make the greater Yellowstone area unique. Oh, I forgot to mention the fishing. As many of you already know, it too is very special...in my opinion, most probably, it is contains the best trout waters anywhere. Sure, there are individual rivers here and there that have more and bigger trout, but no other area I have ever heard or read about can offer the variety of water or the wide range of species.
I have fished the Yellowstone area for over 40 years. My very first trip was in the summer of 1977. Since then, I have made at least two 7-14+ day trips every year for over 40 years. About 25 years ago, I started a "bucket list" of places in the Yellowstone area I wanted to fish. As I recall, the list contained over 40 places. In a few instances, they were on the same river but distance made them a separate "trip/place". I never finished that list nor did I get to all the places on it but I made one hell of a dent in it. My excuse is that early on (1977) I discovered the Henry's Fork. Still, I crossed off a whole lot of places on the list and quite a few that never even made the list originally.
What follows is a list of the places I have experience with and probably a few others that I know a good bit about from friends...many of whom are guides. I will not include a handful of "secret" places as I am still a little too young to die!
Bechler River - Looking to get away from the crowds of YNP? The Bechler River is located in the far South-Western portion of Yellowstone Park. There is no access from within YNP. Access is from Ashton, Idaho (Hwy. 47 East to Hwy 582) in a northeasterly direction. The road dead-ends just inside the park boundary, so fishing the Bechler requires a hike. While this region of Yellowstone is known to backpackers and hikers for its abundance of waterfalls and hot springs, it is far off the radar of the average visitor and most fisherman.
The Firehole River - This is one of the truly unique fly fishing rivers in the world. It flows through several large and active thermal basins and you may have to walk around "mud pots" and hot springs as you walk the banks.There is usually a lot of wildlife in this area. there are plentiful numbers of rainbows and browns but most are in the 12-14 inch range but fish up to 18" have been caught. It is an early and late season river due to the thermal activity. It fishes well from the opener on Memorial Day weekend into June. It does not really become fishable again until September when the cold weather starts to show up.
The Gallatin River - is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 120 mi long in Wyoming and Montana. It is one of three rivers, along with the Jefferson and Madison, that converge near Three Forks, Montana, to form the Missouri. It originates in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park.It flows northwest through Gallatin National Forest, past Big Sky, Montana, and joins the Jefferson and Madison approximately 30 mi. northwest of Bozeman. The Gallatin, through its entire length is not known for large fish but is the home to plentiful rainbows, browns,cutthroat, brook trout and a few grayling. As Western rivers go, it is relatively small.