If you are searching for one location on the planet where fly fishing reigns supreme; Bozeman, Montana should be your destination of choice. It is physically impossible to walk three blocks in Bozeman without running into fly fishing references. Gift shops are overrun with fly fishing Santas, royal coachman bed sheets and carved wooden trout. The town is literally surrounded by its five fly shops and four outdoor sporting goods stores. It seems like one out of 4 locals owns a boat and many of them make their living as fishing guides. Bozeman has the highest concentration of fly fishing and wildlife photographers of any town on earth: flip open your TU calendar or the newest issue of any fly fisherman magazine and I bet half of the photos are from Gallatin Valley shutter flies.
Realtors' business cards are adorned with grip and grin portraits of the large fish they have caught on local waters. Montana State University is the de facto institution of higher learning to focus on trout ecology. The Federation of Fly Fishers is located across the pass in Livingston with its International Fly Fishing Museum. The local breweries malted beverages have names like Hopper Pale Ale and Trout Slayer. Want a drift boat?...the best in the world are made at the edge of town at RO drift boats. Want the best waders on the planet?... you guessed it, they're made by Simms here in Bozeman. Where do the wave of hip, Warren Miller-esque, fly fishing movies make their debuts?...right here in Bozeman to an always packed house of frothing, fishing crazed locals. Where does Orvis hold its annual Guide Rendezvous? Bozeman of course... seemingly half of the world's top fly fishing guides live in driving distance.
So if you want to live on the cutting edge of art, go to Paris. If you want to hang with the world's best rock climbers: live in your van in Yosemite. Beach volleyball and Rio De Janeiro, Big wave surfing and Hawaii, baseball and Yankee stadium, pheasant hunting and South Dakota....you get the picture. If you have caught the fly fishing bug, and want to not only experience great fishing, but want to fully immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of modern day fly fishing then you absolutely must spend some time marinating in Bozeman's angling culture.
Perhaps the greatest aspect that impresses me the most is the sheer quantity of expert fly fisherman and fly fishing guides that call Bozeman their home. The area literally attracts the best of the angling world's best. The sheer density of world class anglers promotes a vibrant exchange of all ideas related to catching trout on flies. Unless you live life with your head buried in the sand, you cannot help but to learn by simple osmosis when you are surrounded by so many great fly fishing minds when in Bozeman.
So what serves as the keystone of the fly fishing culture so strongly immersed in this hip western town? Well, the fishing of course. Bozeman is blessed with an amazing number of the world's best trout rivers within an hour and a half drive. I honestly have a very difficult time traveling two hours from town to fish, because you literally have to drive by so much quality fishing along the way that the urge to pull over and wet a line becomes too great. Seriously, to fish the Kootenai (a blue ribbon river in Northern Montana), I have to pass up the Gallatin, Madison, Jefferson, Missouri, Big Hole, Clark Fork, Black Foot, Bitteroot....not to mention countless small spring creeks, stillwaters, and fantastic stream fishing. Let me tell you, it isn't easy!
Bozeman is an amazing location because you can actually fly fish some of the small creeks right in town and have off the hook fly fishing, stop by one of the pubs in town to wet your whistle in your waders and continue ripping lips upstream afterwards. Drive 10 minutes out of town and you are on the world famous Gallatin river, 20 minutes and you are on the Madison, and 30 minutes gets you to the Yellowstone.
It's a no-brainer that Bozeman has become a Mecca for some of the world's best fly fishing guides. Expert fisherman realize that being at the right place at the right time far surpasses all of the advance casting tips a lifetime subscription to any fly fishing magazine can provide. The beauty of basing fishing trips out of Bozeman is the amazing diversity that our guides have at their fingertips for finding quality water that is "on fire". Another perk to the Gallatin Valley is the density of fishing options for guided trips is that we are able to play match maker with our guests to find the best fishing scenario that matches what folks are looking for.
Beginner anglers we can do a nice float trip on one of the stretches of the Madison or Yellowstone that has uncomplicated drift lines or maybe a wade trip on the Gallatin that is loaded with eager rainbows. Adventurous anglers may want to combine some white water with their fishing to experience the frenetic pace of casting into roiling pocket water or perhaps make a hike into the bottom of a wilderness canyon. With such amazing fisheries as the Madison, Yellowstone, Boulder, Missouri, Jefferson, Ruby, Gallatin, East Gallatin, Spring Creeks, small streams, Private ranches and large lakes with a short drive away it is no wonder that Bozeman attracts fly fisherman from around the world!
Brian McGeehan is a Montana fly fishing outfitter and works with several of the top Bozeman fishing guides in the region. Montana Angler Fly Fishing is a full service fly fishing guide service based in Bozeman, Montana. Their guides specialize in fishing both the famous rivers in our area such as the Madison, Yellowstone, Missouri, and Gallatin as well as many lesser known fisheries. Montana Angler partners with several of the regions world class fly fishing lodges. Many of their guides row both drift boats and rafts and are uniquely trained to row white water rivers. By using specialized equipment and expert rowers, they are able to access remote canyons of famous rivers that are seldom fished. Trout in these remote areas do not see the fishing pressure that trout in more accessible areas do and as a result often strike flies with reckless abandon