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With a length that exceeds 670 miles, the Yellowstone River is the longest river unobstructed by dams in the United States. It stretches from the Absaroka Mountain Range in Wyoming, flows from Yellowstone Lake into Montana, and lastly connects to the Missouri River in North Dakota.
The sheer size of the Yellowstone River makes it no surprise that it's a prime fly fishing area for anglers, both novices and experienced alike.
Where To Go Fly Fishing At The Yellowstone River
Vast numbers of trout reside in the Yellowstone River, including the subspecies brown, cutthroat, and rainbow trout. With at least 200 accessible miles of trout-filled waters, there is no question whatsoever that the Yellowstone River is an ideal place to go fly fishing. Due to the river's enormous length, it may initially seem difficult to decide on a fishing spot.
At one point, Yellowstone Lake was a prime fly fishing area for cutthroat trout. As of today, numbers of illegally-released lake trout have pushed back the population of the native cutthroat trout. Any lake trout that are caught must not be thrown back into the water. Even so, it is still a scenic location and cutthroat trout swim close to shore in autumn to spawn.
The grand canyon and black canyon areas of the Yellowstone River contain fast-flowing water surrounded by rugged terrain that can only be reached by foot. For a determined angler, the trek is worth it. These waters are full of mountain whitefish as well as cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout. As with most Yellowstone River fishing areas, the late part of the summer is the ideal time to go fly fishing.
Gardiner is a popular access point on the Yellowstone River for those going fly fishing. Once the river travels out of Yellowstone National Park, anglers are allowed to fish by boat. Gardiner's waters contain thriving populations of rainbow and cutthroat trout as well as a fair number of brown trout. Downstream, the river widens and flows more slowly so that shoreside fly fishing becomes much easier to do.
As the Yellowstone River transitions into Yankee Jim Cayon, the abundance of rapids and white water makes this beautiful but formidable area navigable only by experienced boaters. Cutthroat trout rule these waters along with a lesser but still substantial amount of brown and rainbow trout.
Downstream of the Yankee Jim Canyon, the Yellowstone River enters the aptly named Paradise Valley. Surrounded by towering mountains and cut through with a far gentler flow of water, Paradise Valley is an ideal location for beginners at fly fishing to hook their first catch. While Paradise Valley does not have as many cutthroat trout as some other areas, many fair-sized brown trout swim in these waters.
The town of Livingston is one of the prime areas for fly fishing in the Yellowstone River. Conveniently situated around the heart of trout-filled waters, Livingston's location makes it unbeatable as one of the most popular areas for anglers to find lodging or go straight to the Yellowstone River to go fly fishing. Mountain whitefish, brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout are plentiful throughout this area.
Several miles East of Livingston near Highway 89, the Yellowstone River runs through Big Timber. While fish populations tend to be less dense in comparison to Livingston, some of the largest rainbow and brown trout can be found in this area. Depending on the water levels and conditions or the seasons, the fish tend to move around quite frequently. For experienced and patient anglers, a fishing trip in this part of the river can be mightily rewarding.
Few locations for fly fishing can compete with the sheer size of the Yellowstone River and its plentiful population of trout. While many people enjoy going fishing in the warmest part of the summer, there are plenty of exciting opportunities for anglers in the springtime and autumn as well.
Those seeking to go fly fishing will find no shortage of help in the surrounding towns such as tourist lodgings, written resources for the area, and guided fishing trips. Many areas offer fishing guides to various spots along the Yellowstone River as well as the particular guidelines and laws associated with each fish species.
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