Gallatin River Fishing Report


The Gallatin River has been fishing excellent as of late. This is a great place to head out after work for a couple hours and get your evening fish craving taken care of. We love the Gallatin. It’s practically in our backyard. Lots of fish. Opportunistic fish. Hungry fish.

The Canyon seems to be fishing a little bit better than the Valley currently…likely due to cooler water temps. Fish like it cool and clean. When driving South, you will notice that there is no shortage of pullouts and places to fish. Access is another reason we love the Gallatin. Find yourself a pullout with no one else in it, and just go explore the water. You will likely find some big boulder gardens, riffle-y water, and a lot of good pocket water for trout to hangout in.

As far as fly selection goes, the Gallatin is not too difficult. Here are some of our favorites:


As far as hatches go, currently PMDs and Caddis are the main ones. PMDs during the morning and afternoon, and Caddis in the evenings. We should start seeing some Spruce Moths (Large Caddis, #10) fluttering around in the evenings any day now. Nocturnal Stoneflies are also crawling around, emerging at night. If you get out early, the fish will eat a bigger (#8-12) Stonefly dry no problem. Down in the Valley, we could start to see Tricos showing up, and the Hopper/Ant/Beetle bite should really start turning on.

  • Royal Trude #12-16
  • Lime Trude #12-16
  • Hare’s Ear Trude #12-14
  • Royal Wulff #12-16
  • H&L Variant #14-16
  • Para Madam X #8-10
  • EZ Caddis #16-18
  • Para Caddis #14-16
  • X Caddis #14-18
  • Chubby Chernobyl #8-12
  • JC Special #10-12
  • Snowshoe Spruce Moth #10-14
  • Almost Dun PMD #16-18
  • Para PMD #16-18
  • Sparkle Flag PMD #18
  • Trico Dun #18-20



Nymph fishing is good year round on the Gallatin. I’m not sure that there is a day in the year, besides a couple during runoff that you can’t get a fish to eat a Stonefly nymph. Besides the Stone, the Gallatin is a great place to try your flashy attractors, worms, small beadheads, and bigger buggers. Get ‘em on the bottom and run ‘em through the deep pools and the shallow riffles.

  • Delekta’s McGolden #10
  • Tungsten Terminator #10-12
  • Rubber Legs #6-12
  • Girdle Bugger #6-8
  • Dirty Bird Hare’s Ear #10-16
  • Yuk Bug #6
  • Goomie Worm #8
  • Jim Dandy Worm #12
  • Prince Nymph #10-18
  • Super Flash Pheasant Tail #14-16
  • Lucent Prince #14
  • Copper John #12-18
  • Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear #12-16
  • Air Head Soft Hackle #16
  • Glint Nymph #14
  • Rubber Leg Wooly Bugger #6



A favorite summer activity of mine is stripping streamers in the Gallatin. For this river, I usually bust out the smaller streamers. Wooly Buggers, Crystal Buggers, Sculpins, and Zonkers. They all seem to get the job done, and every now and again I run into some bigger fish.

  • Crystal Bugger #4
  • Burgin Bugger #2
  • Kreelex #4
  • Bow River Bugger #2-6
  • Sculpzilla #4
  • Sparkle Minnow #4
  • Bighorn Bugger/JJ Special #4-6
  • Zonker #4-6
  • RL Fire Tiger Bugger #4
  • Catch Em All #4
  • Circus Peanut #2
  • Sex Dungeon #2
  • Gonga #4
  • Smoke ‘N Mirrors #2-2/0


If you’re lucky enough to get out and fish this weekend, have fun! To see more reports from area rivers, visit our Fishing Reports Page.

If you need any of the flies listed above, we got ‘em. We’ve also received a ton of great new gear from Simms Fishing Product, so stop by sometime and check it out! We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Tight Lines!

Montana | The Wild Trout Factor


It’s been roughly 40 years now. Forty years since Montana quit stocking river and streams that supported a wild trout population. Let’s look back at what made it that way..

Before about 1968, scientists and biologists more or less accepted the fact that stocking of the streams was going to help increase trout population, increase size of trout and really overall, increase the success of fisherman leading to increased tourism. Every year, Varney Fishing Access on the Madison River was stocked with anywhere from 10,000-15,000 catchable trout. In 1966, Dick Vincent was hired on by MT FWP to help develop new techniques for monitoring trout populations. His first couple years were spent creating new electroshocking equipment for the department. With the new and more accurate equipment, FWP was able to observe and track trout populations with much more detail. Time was spent shocking and collecting data from both Varney Bridge, which was stocked annually, and below Ennis Lake, which was not being stocked at the time. They were surprised at the data.

With increased flows out of both Hebgen and Ennis dams, the biologists were sure that fish numbers would increase in both sections.  They were wrong. In fact, fish numbers did increase in the Norris section of river, however contrary to their previous thoughts, numbers did not improve in the Varney section.

In 1969, Vincent proposed the plan of cutting all stocking efforts on the Varney section of the Madison River, while stocking a tributary in Ennis called O’Dell Creek, which had never seen stocked fish before. According to Vincent, there were not a lot of people that were happy about his plan. Many thought that cutting the stocking of fish in the Madison would ruin the trout population, and additionally ruin the fisherman traffic and business. If it wasn’t for the many complaints the FWP department was receiving on poor trout fishing, and smaller sized trout, Vincent’s plan would have likely never made it through.

In 1970, with the backing of Fisheries Chief, Art Whitney, Vincent’s plan was able to begin. Fast forward a couple years and what do you think happened? Fish number in O’Dell Creek dwindled, showing data that was half of before stocking efforts began. And the Varney stretch? By the time 1974 rolled around, nearly four years after the study began, the number of wild trout, 10″ or larger had increase by 213%.

In 1973, at the official end of the study, the department studied the data, and it was obvious what needed to happen. A significant change to the stocking policy was imminent. By the end of 1973, the FWP had agreed to haulting all stocking of trout in Montana streams and rivers.

To read the full article from FWP’s interview with Dick Vincent can be read HERE.

Here we are now…wild trout numbers are flourishing in many places. The Missouri river, with nearly 6,000 wild trout per mile is one of the best fisheries in the country. The Gallatin…nearly 1,500 wild fish per mile.

Trout numbers are good, but there is always room for improvement. Moving forward, if we, all of us, don’t continue furthered efforts of trout population management and river conservation, we could reverse the effect of all of Vincent’s efforts. It’s very much up to us now. Wild trout need a cold, clear river to thrive in. Catch and release practices are good, but Catch and Release live practices are sometimes hard to find. If you love them, like we all do, take care of the trout. They deserve it. Take care of the rivers too. Let’s clean up after ourselves.  I don’t think the slogan “leave it as you found it” applies any more. Better would be “leave it better than when you found it.”


Fresh Fishing Reports


dry flies


Fresh Fishing Reports HERE!

Fishing has been great lately across the boards. Whether you are a streamer guy, dry fly only, or nymph fisherman, there are plenty of opportunities to catch fish. The weekend is coming up and it looks like it could be a mild one.  Temps in the mid 70s sound pretty good if you ask me. Check out our fishing reports for the up-to-date information on fishing conditions in Southwest Montana.

We hope you can get out and catch a few fish this weekend, and maybe we’ll even see you out there!  If you need any gear, flies, or info be sure to stop by your local fly shop and get stocked up! Our fly bins are looking good, and we have a shop full of BRAND NEW Simms Fall 2014 gear! Check out the new gear HERE, or visit our Web Store for more information.

Simms G4 Pro Jacket | Forget the Forecast


landscapeThe rain is coming down in sheets, the clouds are dark as the night, and every other fisherman has evacuated the premise. Besides you.

The all new G4 Pro Jacket from Simms Fishing is built specifically for the moments when Mother Nature shows her ugly side.  Here in Montana, we never really know when the next big storm could hit. Afternoon squalls in the Rocky Mountains are quite common, so when fishing here, know that there is no such thing as being over-prepared. Take your inclement weather gear arsenal to the next level with the all new G4 Pro Jacket.


The new GORE-TEX Pro Shell fabric keeps the rain out better than ever, even though it is 15% lighter weight than the previous versions. GORE-TEX is trusted as the most waterproof, breathable fabric going, so it’s fitting that the G4 Pro utilizes the best GORE-TEX has to offer.

In addition to the undeniable advantage of GORE-TEX outerwear, Simms has included many features to improve upon the already great G4.

Those features include:

    • 9 storage pockets: 2 bellowed chest pockets, 2 zippered hand warmer pockets, 2 tippet pockets, 1 sleeve pocket, 1 internal stretch woven pocket, and 1 large back storage pocket.
    • Angled front chest pocked are easier to open, easier to insert a fly box.
    • Highly water-resistant Dry Cuff™ design keeps water out of the sleeve when tailing fish or casting in the rain and creates a very snug seal around the wrist.
    • 2 integrated, tuck-away retractors.
    • Tuck away fly patch above left chest pocket.
    • Shortened pit zip for ventilation has been moved up to prevent water from entering when casting in the rain or navigating deep water.
    • 3-point storm hood.
    • High collar with breath-exhaust port for less condensation.
    • Center-front AquaGuard® VISLON® zipper for maximum water-repellency.
    • Secondary stormflap on centerfront zippper.
    • AquaGuard® VISLON® zipper chest pocket zippers.

If you’re interested in check out the new G4 Pro, stop by either of our shops here in Bozeman. We’re getting stocked up on all the new Simms gear for this exciting Fall season. Be sure to check out our Product Guide for more information on the new line-up.

Simms Product Guide | Fall 2014


fall14banner     It’s that time of year again….NEW GEAR!  It’s Christmas in July here at The River’s Edge. We’re starting to receive some new gear from our neighbors, Simms Fishing Products.  There is a lot of great new gear that we’re super excited about. We really like the new line-up, and we hope you guys do as well. In the F14 line, there were no changes to the Simms Wader or Simms Boot line.  Stay tuned for next Spring though….there are some new great products in the works. The main changes we will see are in the Outerwear, Sportswear, and Packs and Bags line.


The additions/changes to the Outerwear collection are mostly cold weather / winter items. Below you’ll find a couple of the items we wanted to highlight, as well as a list of the rest of the changes. I didn’t want to say anything, but it’s not too long until we start seeing the temps trending back down and you’ll need to start to prepare for Winter hibernation fishing. kineticJacketThe Kinectic Jacket is a great looking and great performing new piece. PrimaLoft Gold insulation is literally the Gold standard when it comes to a synthetic insulator. The PrimaLoft retains 96% of it’s warmth when wet, and provides the highest warmth to weight ration available. Because of that, not only is the jacket extremely warm, it is also extremely light. Best of both worlds. A durable, DWR treated, 100% Polyester Shell, stuffed with 60 grams of PrimaLoft, and lined with Polartec Wind Pro fleece.  The Kinetic is an excellent layering piece, and a great jacket to wear both on and off the river.

Buy the Kinetic Jacket HERE.

rifflejacket The Riffle Jacket is going to be a good one. This is a non GoreTex jacket, but is completely waterproof and breathable with the use of the 3-Layer Toray waterproof/breathable fabric. The Riffle has a nice clean design, minimizing line catch points while maximizing gear storage. The large internal check pockets can hold large fly boxes, tippet, and other essential gear. The coolest part of the jacket is the pass-through hand warmer pockets, not only keeping your fingers warm, but allowing access to the inside of the jacket and your wader pockets. All the features of a a GoreTEX wading jacket, just without the GoreTEX price tag.



For Fall 2014, there were a few other products that have received an overhaul and/or color changes.

  • G4 Pro Jacket: The G4 Pro Jacket got a complete overhaul for F14. Updated Gore-TEX Pro shell fabric, which is 15% lighter weight that the previous jacket, with improved tear and abraision resistance.  Two new colors are Wetstone and Black. More information on the G4 Pro Jacket. BUY THE G4 PRO HERE.
  • Slick Jacket: Same design, just a new color. Fury Orange is being replaced by Loden. BUY THE SLICK JACKET HERE.
  • Bulkley Jacket:  The already popular Simms Bulkley is now available in the color Wetstone (Dark Khaki) as well as the original Black. BUY HERE.
  • ADL Jacket: The Windstopper ADL Jacket is now available in the color Olive, as well as the original Black and Navy. BUY HERE.
  • ExStream Jacket and Pant: The ExStream line-up received a make over for Fall 2014. A more durable fabric is used for the shell, as well as the switch to PrimaLoft Silver insulation. The Jacket features body-mapped insulation, including 120g in the Body, 100g in the Sleeves, and 60g in the Collar.  The Pant is a straight 100g PrimaLoft Silver throughout. BUY HERE.
  • Fall Run Jacket:  The Fall Run Jacket received an overhaul, including PrimaLoft Gold insulation, and three new colors (Loden, Navy, Fury Orange).
  • Fall Run Vest: Fall Run Vests gets the new PrimaLoft Gold Insulation as well, and two new colors (Navy and Loden).



The Sportswear Department shows a good number of the changes and additions for this fall season. New products for cold weather fishing, as well as a couple more casual shirts. confluenceReversible The Confluence Reversible is a great multi purpose product.  On one side, you have a soft flannel. Flip it inside-out and you have a insulated shirt jacket.  Simms tried to make things easier for you with this one.  Pack lighter when you have two products in one.

Buy the Confluence Reversible HERE.
blacksfordFlannel The Black’s Ford Flannel. A casual shirt? Yes, but absolutely fishable. Stylish? You got it. Warm? It’s a flannel….enough said.

Buy the Black’s Ford Flannel HERErivershedSweater The new re-designed Rivershed Sweater, now available in both Full Zip and Quarter Zip.  The material is a softer, no-pill Polyester Sweater Fleece, with a look similar to the Rivershed of a few seasons ago. Stay warm both on and off the water. We like the Rivershed as a layer under a shell, such as the Slick Jacket, or just on it’s own when the morning temps are low.

The Story Work Pant is a totally new concept for Simms.  No longer do you have to wear your fishing gear to work…we’re not saying you can’t, but this is simply another option. Comfortable, stylish, and durable. A good combo.

Buy the Story Work Pant HERE.


  • Rogue Fleece Hoody: The Rogue features a slighty different face fabric for F14.  We like it.  It seems a bit more durable, and is still DWR treated to keep the water off.  A 100% Polyester Fleece on the inside keeps your warm when the temps drop. New colors include: Lead, Black, and Geo Camo Loden. BUY HERE.
  • Coldweather LS Shirt: The Coldweather LS Shirt is the same construction as previous seasons, just with three new colors: Boulder Plaid, Dark Shadow Plaid, and Olive Plaid. Buy HERE.
  • Kenai LS Shirt: The Kenai is a favorite here at the shop. We were happy to see it stay in the line, and we really like the two new colors: Grey Plaid, and Wave Plaid. Buy HERE.
  • Cascade Softshell Pant: The Cascade Softshell Pant is great for our cold Montana winters. Perfect for a layer under waders, and is also just fine for cruising around town after your fishing adventure. The face fabric is also treated with a DWR finish so it will repel water. Buy HERE.


Several changes were made to the Layering line up for Fall of 2014. The new products from Simms will keep you warmer on the river, keep you fishing longer, and because of that, catching more fish. guidecoretop The Guide Core Top in new addition to the Layering department. It is a lightweight fleece, designed to be worn next to skin, creating all day comfort and warmth when used as part of a layering system. A YKK quarter zip allows for temperature adjustments and easy on/off. The Core top is made of a non pilling fabric, designed for long term durability and many days on the water. fjordfleecepant The Fjord Fleece Pant….looks warm huh? Well it is. Built out of a high density Polartec Fleece, and designed to be warn under waders when the temps plummet.  The Fjord features a fleece that is engineered to withstand water pressure and provide optimal warmth and loft when warn under a pair of waders. The addition of the ankle stirrups keep the pants in place, preventing the uncomfortable “riding-up” effect. The Fjord is the highest performing insulation pant that will keep you warm, even in the most harsh fishing situations.


  • Montana TechWool Zip Top: A great layering piece. Made from Wool knit fleece from Montana sheep, this 21 Micron Wool Fiber Zip top is perfect for those cold winter mornings. A quarter zip allows for temperature control when the thermometer rises. A fleece lined collar provides maximum comfort.  This is an excellent piece that can be worn as both a layering piece, or a casual pull-over. Comes in both Navy and Dark Gunmetal.
  • Montana Wool Mid Tip: Another addition to the Montana Wool collection. The Wool Mid Top is a lighter weight wool product, meant to be worn as a next-to-skin base layer. A YKK quarter zip allows for ventilation and body temp regulation. Available in Charcoal and Black.
  • Montana Wool Mid Bottom: A Montana Made wool bottom. 18.5 Micron super fine wool provides soft, next-to-skin comfort, while flatlock stiched seams prevent chafing and wear very well under waders.
  • Montana Core Crew Neck: A lightweight wool crewneck, and an excellent base layer. The Wool Core Crewneck will keep you warm, without the bulkiness of thicker synthetic products.
  • Axis Hoody: The same great design of the Axis Hoody, just with a new color.  Tidal Blue. It looks great! Buy the AXIS HOODY HERE.
  • Guide Mid Top: Same warm fleece design, but with a new color. Terracotta.
  • Guide Fleece Bib: Four Way Stretch fleece offers warmth, breathability, and excellent range of motion. Now in a new color: Black.



The new packs and bags are awesome.  No changes to the Headwaters line-up, however the the Dry Creek series received a make over. With the addition of a new product, the Roll-Top Hip Pack, all of the other products remained in the line, however they did receive some improvements.


This is one that’d we’ve been waiting for since we first saw it this Spring.  The Dry Creek Roll-Top Hip Pack.  A hip pack that is completely submersible. The Dry Creek Hip Pack features a highly durable and fully waterproof TPU coated fabric, with a roll-top closure, so fill it up with your boxes and feel free to wade as far as you feel comfortable. The closed-cell foam waistband is not only comfortable, but also does not soak up any water. Inside, there are a couple of storage pockets and one big main storage space.  Perfect for a few fly boxes and other gear items. This is great for the Steelhead guys, Saltwater Flats guys, and just the wade-fisherman in general. A great new product, and we’re thinking it’s going to be a great seller. For the guy who only need a couple key pieces of gear, the two fly boxes, tippet, nippers, and a water bottle, this is perfect. drycreekBoatBagAnother exciting new product for Fall 14.  The Dry Creek Boat Bag.  Certainly unlike any other boat bag we’ve seen before. The bag is constructed of an ultra-durable TPU coated material, which is fully waterproof. The best part of the bag is the Magnetized Catch and Release buckle.  If you’ve ever owned a boat bag, you know what a hassle the zippers can be.  You need to zip them shot to keep the contents dry and safe…well not with the addition of the Catch and Release buckle. Simply flip the top over so that the buckle clicks into place. Boom. No need to zip until you’re done for the day. Interior divided & compression molded trays make for excellent gear organization, and hypalon strap attachment points for securing the bag to a raft frame.

Buy the Dry Creek Boat Bag HERE.
drycreekduffelAnother re-design in the Dry Creek series.  The Dry Creek Duffel received an overhaul this season as well.  Fully waterproof TPU coated material with a submersible roll-top closure make this duffel an essential gear item for the traveling fisherman.  Keep your gear dry, secure, and safe. A favorite amongst the rafting community, the Dry Creek Duffel features Hypalon strap attachment points on the sides for securing the bag to a raft frame.


  • Dry Creek Roll-Top Bag: The Roll-Top Bag, perfect for tossing a jacket, lunch, DSLR camera, and other precious ingredients. Keep ‘em dry with TPU treated, waterproof material. You can also see the insides with the clear TPU coated window. Hypalon Strap attachment points for lashing to a raft frame.
  • Dry Creek Roll-Top Backpack: The Roll-Top backpack was redesigned to match the rest of the Dry Creek Series. A highly durable, fully waterproof TPU coated fabric, and submersible roll-top closure make this a favorite among guides and hike-to-fish enthusiasts.



exstreamGloves   The ExStream Gloves received a much needed update. This new gloves are more durable, and with the addition of Polartec Powershield Pro fabric, more water-resistant. DWR treated fleece has a high warmth-weight ration, but still allows for excellent dexterity for tying on knots. These new ExStreams are double stitched in the places where is matters most to provide a more long lasting product. g4Glove   The G4 Glove is a super exciting new product. A fully waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX glove, combo’d with a Debossed Goat leather palm with Pittards Oiltac overlays gives the user excellent grip and dexterity, even when wet. This will be a great glove for fall/winter/spring fishing out of a drift boat. When the rain starts pouring, and you’re on the sticks, you’ll be thankful for warm dry hands and the grip of the leather palms. A neoprene cuff prevents water from moving up your sleeves. This could be a cross over, potentially serving both the winter angler and the spring skier.


  • ProDry Glove: The ProDry is a waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX Glove. A removable stretch fleece liner with half-fingers for line management and knot tying during cold weather situations.
  • Skeena Glove: A fully waterproof glove with a Shark Skin textured palm. A great glove for those cold water situations where your hands need to enter the water. The interior is a moisture wicking grid fleece built to keep your hands warm. A gasket cuff keeps water from moving up your sleeves. BUY HERE.



Not a whole lot of changes to the Accessories line up.  However the new wading staff line up is excellent.


  • Pro Wading Staff: Carbon Fiber tubing makes for a lightweight, but more rigid wading staff. The contoured cork grip gives the user a confident grasp on the situation. The Pro is a four section staff and is adjustable from 52″-56″.  Comes with holster.
  • Wading Staff: Aluminum tubing and a TPR molded handle create a lighter, yet durable staff. Again, a four piece staff, adjustable from 52″-56″.
  • Wading Staff Retractor: A braided Spectra cable that extends up to 3 feet to keep your wading staff from floating down the river.
  • Wading Staff Rubber Tip: A custom StreamTred rubber tip provides great grip on hike/fish situations. It is also quieter in the water than the aluminum tip. Fits both models of Simms Wading Staffs.



We hope this gives you a insight as to what is happening in the world of Simms. There is a lot of great new products!  If you want to see any of them in person, stop by either one of our shops. Our West location is the only dealer in the USA to carry 100% of the Simms Line in Store!  If you’re an online shopper, check out our Online Store.  We are working hard to update and list all of the new products.

We’d love to hear what you think about the new products! If you get a chance to test out some of the new gear, give us your review!

If you have any questions on this new gear, or anything else fly fishing related, drop us a line, send us  a message, or shoot us an email.  We love talking fly fishing and would be happy to help any way we can.

Fresh Fishing Reports


Check out our up-to-date fishing reports from local rivers.

Fishing has been great across the map and it looks like a great weekend to get out and enjoy the sunshine.

Stop by if you’re headed out.  We’ve got all the best gear, flies, and knowledge of the surrounding waters.  Both shops are open from 8:00 (Although we’re usually here around 7:30) to 6:00 for the remainder of the summer.

If you’re looking to go on a Guided Fly Fishing Trip, we have spaces available in the upcoming weeks. July is a great month to fish in Montana and with the best guides around, you’ll be in for a great time on the river. Call us or send us an email for more information or to book your trip!



Salmonflies on the Yellowstone River


Rumor has it there are a few big bugs out on the Yellowstone River.  Rumor also has it there are a few boats out on the Yellowstone River.  It’s a good thing there are plenty of big hungry brown trout roaming the banks.

Yellowstone River Fishing Report

Yellowstone River Streamflow (Livingston)

Yellowstone River Streamflow (Corwin)


The main hatch was around Carbella as of yesterday.  That being said it will continue to move up today.  From the reports we’ve heard, fishing in the main hatch hasn’t been that great.  Guys have been having much better luck fishing behind the hatch.  Who knows why…it could be that the fish just don’t notice the bugs for a few days, but more likely is that they are just stuffed full of nymphs.

The river is still fairly high, so if you’re headed out, be sure that you know what you are doing behind the oars.  The Yellowstone at 10k can do some scary things, however if you’re a confident rower, you’ll have no problems.

Nymphing has been great too.  Dead-drifting big bugs such as the Zirdle, Bow River Bugger, Wooly Bugger, and Girdle Bugger has been the way to go.  Danny Boy Sculpins too.  Fish those with a flashy beadhead behind and you’ll be in for some good fishing.  The Whitey bite has been off the charts, so expect a few of those to grab the lightning bug.

The river should drop back down below 10k today, likely to around 9,500 CFS.

The river below Carter’s Bridge is still too dangerous to float.  It’s best to stay high until the streamflows get down around 8k.  It won’t be long.

We have plenty of Salmonflies in the bins, as well as some great dead-drift streamer patterns.  We also have arguably the best soft-hackle bead-head selection around to fulfill your dropper nymph needs.  For those of you looking to throw the big junk, we have all the best Articulated Streamers from Galloup’s Dungeon to Soltau’s Smoke N’ Mirrors.


Happy Fourth of July!



All of us at The River’s Edge and River’s Edge West would like to wish you a happy Independence Day!  Hopefully you can get out and soak up some sun, eat some good food, watch the fireworks, and enjoy the freedom that has been made possible by all the brave men and women out there protecting us.

It’s shaping up to be an excellent fishing weekend, so don’t forget your fly rod at home! Swing by either shop before you head out on your weekend fishing adventure!  We’ve got the gear, flies, and other fly fishing goodies.

We’ll be around until 4:00 PM today, and then 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM over the weekend.

Have a safe and fun Fourth of July, 2014!

Fresh Fishing Reports



July is here and the fishing is really heating up!  The beautiful thing about Southwest Montana is that you have options!

You can chase the big bug around on the Upper Madison River or Gallatin River.

You can throw dries to picky Rainbows on the Missouri RIver.

You can nymph ‘em up on the Lower Madison River.

You can strip the big junk off the banks of the Yellowstone River.

You can figure-eight Leeches and Chironomids on the local Lakes.

You can twitch little buggers on the small streams.

You are in fly fishing paradise.


Stop by either shop and get the full up-to date reports from all of our area rivers.  We’re open 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM, SUNDAY-MONDAY, and we are stocked full of great gear, great flies, and great knowledge.

USGS Streamflows | How To Decipher the Numbers


Reading USGS Streamflows can be one of the most helpful resources for the angler here in Montana.

Weather conditions can change river conditions quite drastically, even in a short period of time. Many of these Streamflow sites are updated every hour, giving you up-to date reports on the river without even seeing it.

If you already know how to read them, maybe you’ll learn a few new tricks.   If not, read through this tutorial, and by the end you will be much better at determining the best place to fish.

Here is the link to the USGS Streamflow Station List for Montana. Bookmark this!

If you’re confused on any of these terms, USGS has put together a nice glossary of terms here: USGS Water Term Dictionary

First off, we’ll start with the basics…


Cubic Feet per Second, CFS as we refer to it, is a measurement of water volume.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before, probably on my fishing reports… “The Gallatin is flowing at 2,000 CFS, dropped down 300 over night..”  And you probably said to yourself, “Why the heck does that matter for fishing?”  Well it does.  It matters a lot.  I’ll go into how rising and dropping flows effect fishing, but for now, lets focus on what CFS means.

Like I said before, CFS is a measurement of volume.  It is a numerical measurement for the amount of water flowing past a certain point every second.  If you’re into math, one CFS equals 7.4805 Gallons of water flowing by a certain point per second. On all of the major rivers here in Montana as well as many smaller streams, and across the US for that matter, there is at least one station set up for measurement of CFS.  When these stations take a reading, every hour, and update to the USGS site, we can see how the river is changing, and what direction it is trending.


Below is what the main page looks like.  You will see that the stations are broken up by river basin. Here is a general key that will help you figure out which basin the river you are looking for is located in…

West of the Continental Divide = Upper Columbia River Basin

If the river/stream eventually flows into the Missouri River, but is south of Great Falls, MT                       = Upper Missouri River Basin

If the river/stream eventually flows into the Lower Missouri River, East of Great Falls, MT                          = Lower Missouri River Basin

If the river/stream eventually flows into the Yellowstone River = Yellowstone River Basin

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As you’ll notice, when you visit the main page listing all of the Montana Streamflow sites, you will see a couple of different columns with data.

Here is a breakdown of what those columns mean.

Station Number: The number given to the designated station.

Station Name: The name of the location, usually including name of body of water, and closest town

Long Term Median Flow (Date): The historic median (middle statistic) flow for the site on today’s date.  Some sites contain over 100 years of data.

Discharge: Current flow rate, in Cubic Feet/Second measured at the Station.

Gage Height: Another measurement taken at the station, showing current height of the water flowing through the river/stream channel.

Temperature: The temperature, in celsius, of the water measured at the station.  Not every station has a thermometer.  Some temperatures are measured seasonally.

Date/Time: Date and time of last measured station reading.


When you click on a specific station, links are the station number, you are directed to the station’s page.  There you will find several different options.

Towards the top, you will see this box… the HISTORIC DATA RETRIEVER THING. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 11.48.56 AMThis magical box allows you to look back into the historic readings from this station.  I use this feature a lot when we are coming out of runoff and I’m thinking of fishing a location that I am not very familiar with. One situation I have found for this is when I can remember a time when I fished a specific river and had excellent fishing.  I want to go back again, but I’m not sure if it is fishable yet.  (There are a lot of other variables that determine whether or not a river is fishable, but this can help).  With the historic graphs, I can enter in the dates when I previously fished, and pull up the graph of the flows during that time period and find out what the CFS was when the fishing was so great.  There are several other great uses for this, but that is just one that I have found.

Scroll down a little further and you will see the first measurement graph.  It is different on each station.

The three possibilities are:

Discharge, Cubic Feet per Second:

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 12.19.07 PMThis graph shows the trend of the river discharge over the past eight days.  This is one of the best indicators of fishing conditions for the angler to look at.

Gage Height, Feet:

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 1.52.26 PMThis graph follows basically the same trend as the Discharge graph.  It is simply another measurement to look at while assessing the river conditions.  It is also used in determining Flood Stage during runoff.

Temperature, Water, Degrees Celsius:

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This graph is a good indicator when looking at hatch possibilities.  Certain bugs hatch at different water temps, and fish feed more or less at certain water temps.  A great chart to look at before heading out.


This is a great feature of the USGS website.  For every USGS Station, you can sign up for WaterAlert, a real time alert system designed to send you a notification when water levels exceed user-defined thresholds.  You can simply go to the site, below, and set the parameters you would like to be notified about and how frequently you would like notifications.

Notice the WaterAlert link at the bottom right of the graph.

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This is great for runoff times, when you’re just waiting for the river to get low enough to fish.  Take the Yellowstone River for example….we typically don’t fish the Yellowstone until it gets down to below 10,000 CFS after runoff.  You can set this to immediately notify you when the Yellowstone first drops down below 10k.

It is also nice when there are changing conditions.  Fish typically don’t eat quite as much when the river is rising hard.  When there is a spike in the Gallatin River due to last nights rain storms, you can have WaterAlert notify you, and then you can re-assess your after-work fishing plans.


Here are a few tips to think about when you’re looking at the Streamflows.

A couple of major Rivers have Streamflow stations on their tributaries.  You should always check those tributaries in addition to the main river stations.  They can notify you of changing water conditions that could be effecting the main river.

When the Lamar River spikes, look for the Yellowstone River to have some mud:

Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar River is one of the main feeder streams of the Yellowstone River.  When ever there are big rain storms moving through in the summer, be sure to check the Lamar Streamflow.  If there is a spike in the Discharge graph, it is highly likely that there will be a mud plug moving through the Yellowstone River in the next day or two.

The Shields River, east of Livingston, MT, is another feeder of the Yellowstone.  Although more stable than the Lamar, when the Shields spikes, you can expect a mud plug moving into the lower Yellowstone shortly.

Pulsing Flows out of Dams:

Another thing to look out for, this time effecting the tailwater rivers in our area.  During runoff, it is common to see the flows going up and down quite a bit out of the dams.  I’m a little unclear on why they (whoever they are) do this, but what I do know is that it can really slow down fishing.

Fish like consistency.  They like cool, clean water, and they like it to stay the same.  Pulsing flows is when the people running the dams release a bunch of water, then slow it down again, then repeat…fish don’t like that.

Rising Flows Usually Means Slow Fishing

For whatever reason, it seems like fishing is never really good when the river is rising hard.  There are always exceptions to the rule…I caught my biggest Brown Trout ever when the Madison was rising several hundred CFS as I was standing in the river….but IN GENERAL, fishing seems to be slow when the rivers are rising.

Dropping Flows Usually Means GOOD Fishing

For whatever reason, it seems like fishing can be very very good when the river is dropping hard.  Of course, there have been times when the river drops several hundred CFS and I don’t even see a fish, but it seems like IN GENERAL, those fish are moving around, feeding, and are a lot more aggressive when the flows are dropping.  Streamer fisherman love fishing the drop!


I’ve gotten in the habit of always checking the flows before I head out for the day.  It is Montana, and you never really know what can happen during the night.


I hope this helped clear up some of the CFS nonsense you read about it our fishing reports.  There is a lot of CFS talk during the Spring and early Summer when we are coming out of runoff.  It is important though.  Even though we wish it were otherwise, it’s just not possible to get out to every river and check the conditions…these Streamflow reports let us make educated guesses as to what might be going on with out actually being there.

If you have any questions on Streamflows, we’d be happy to answer them for you.  We’re all pretty good at deciphering what might be happening and whether or not it would be worth driving out to the river to fish or not (For the record, it’s ALWAYS worth fishing somewhere..)

Not only are we you’re local USGS Streamflow experts, we also have two great fly shops full of great gear, flies, and we know a thing or two about fly fishing as well.  Stop by and say hi someday!

We’re moving into full on Summer-mode here in SW Montana and I know I’m excited!  It’s going to be a good one!