Waters We Fish

  Bighorn- The Bighorn is one of Montana’s most productive rivers both in numbers and size of fish. This blue ribbon tailwater comes out 200 feet below Bighorn Reservoir at Yellowtail dam. This is big water, average flows are around 3,000 cfs. Being a tailwater the river runs clear and fishes well up to 10,000 cfs. The dam releases consistent water temperatures that equate to prolific insect life and lots of big fish. With nearly twice the growing season of most free stone rivers the Bighorn’s fish get big fast, hosting more than 400 browns over 18 inches per mile. The tailwater is fishable nearly the entire year, but our favorite times April-May and Aug-Sept. Needless to say the river can be good anytime of the year. We require booking at least 2 days of fishing on the Bighorn as it is a long drive for our guides.
   
  Big Hole – Truly one of ABO’s favorite float trips, the Big Hole in late August through mid October is hard to beat. Deep undercut banks, shaded by beautiful whispering cottonwoods, the fall gives way to hefty browns the color of the season. This river fishes well from top to bottom. Upper stretches host mostly rainbows with a few cutthroats, browns and the only native population of fluvial grayling in the lower 48. In the lower stretches browns are more dominant and some attain large sizes. ABO would love to help you achieve your personal fishing goals on the Big Hole; from a “grand slam” (4 species one day), chasing monster browns in some of the deepest darkest runs on the lower river, or just a day off the beaten path. Lets us help you find it on the Big Hole.
   
  Gallatin river – Located in close proximity to both Big Sky and Bozeman, this free stone gem of a river was made famous by the Robert Redford film “A River Runs through it”. Hollywood is not always good for our trout, and since then the Gallatin sees some of the highest river user days in the whole state. This being said we still really enjoy the river and have some of our best days of the entire year here. This is a great spot to learn how to fly fish or do a half-day to brush up on your skills and get some inside knowledge on this popular river. We do walk/wade trips on any part of the river, but prefer to do float trips on the lower section away from the crowds in search of big hook-jawed browns and migrating rainbows that ascend the river each year from the Missouri.
   
 

Missouri River- If you're looking for big fish, then the Missouri is the place to go. We fish both blue ribbon sections of the river; The Land of the Giants between Hauser and Holter Lakes, and below Holter dam. In the “Land of the Giants” we like to target trophy fish that run out of Holter Lake up the Missouri. These fish spend the majority of the year in Holter growing truly enormous before entering the river following salmon, suckers, and whitefish on their yearly spawning runs. The Rainbow population is healthy with an average of 3000 fish per mile averaging 18 inches and the browns are less prolific but bigger, with 400-500 fish per mile averaging 21 inches or larger. This is a place where catching a real trophy is very likely. We have caught fish over 25 inches every year we fish here. This is primarily a nymph and streamer fishing section of the river. Below Holter dam down to Cascade the Mo is considered the world’s largest spring creek. It is really a tailwater but holds many characteristics of a spring creek and fishes like one. This lower stretch has abundant bug life, staggering numbers of fish and is renowned for its excellent dry fly action from mid-March through late September. Precise presentations and perfect drifts directly in the feeding lanes of the trout are usually required for success. Long leaders, long casts, light tippet and matching the hatch produce some behemoth trout on dries here. This being said there are currently between 4000-5000 fish per mile so you will have plenty of opportunity to net a big, bug sipping Missouri trout. Let our professional guides lend their expertise in helping you catch the fish of a lifetime. The Missouri is a great destination river and we like to spend at least 2 days there fishing. Contact us regarding availability, rates and accommodations.

   
  Boulder River- In a truly gorgeous classic Montana setting the Boulder crashes through a series of deep canyons carved by past glaciations of the Beartooth Mountains. The river is separated in two sections by a spectacular natural bridge of limestone. The river above the falls lives up to its name, with the majority of the fishing in deep holes scattered in giant boulder gardens. This section of the river flows quickly and is primarily on USFS land. Expect to catch native cutthroats in the 10-15 inch range along with the occasional rainbow. On this section we offer half day or full day walk/wade trips out of Big Timber. The Boulder changes character below the falls. Exiting the jagged peaks and forested mountainsides of the Beartooths the Boulder spills out on to the plains as it meanders north to its confluence with the Yellowstone. The river flattens out and slows as it meanders through hay meadows and ranchland. Aquatic and terrestrial bug life become abundant and rainbows and browns to 24” are possible. The lower river is renowned for its hatches and the dry fly fishing can be spectacular. The lower river flows through nearly 100% private land, so access is difficult for the public. We have working relationships with several ranches that gives us access to miles of its incredible fishing. We are able to float the lower Boulder in rafts 4-6 weeks of the year at high flows, but the majority of the season is spent wade fishing private ranches.
   
  Madison River - The Madison is one of the world’s most famous trout rivers. Although it is not known for solitude, the Madison is worth the trip especially during some of the summer’s prolific hatches. The Madison’s dry fly fishing during the summer can be hard to beat. The river offers some of the best hatches of any river in the west; the salmon fly hatch is the big one occurring as spring runoff starts to subside in late June to early July. If you hit it right there can be some lights-out action. The Madison is for the most part shallow and resembles one long riffle. Fish will often hold in water that is just a couple of inches deeper than the surroundings and reading the river can be challenging. We do trips on the entire length of the river in Montana, but focus on the water below Ennis Lake and near Ennis. The river also offers two year around tailwater fisheries that are for the most part unaffected by spring runoff. The tailwater section on the lower Madison offers very consistent nymph fishing along with productive hatches. One of our favorites being the march browns giving us a great intro to the fishing season. The Madison is unrivaled for its location and beauty, flanked by the jagged Madison range to the east and Tobacco Root Mountains to the west. Be sure to bring your camera because this will be a trip you won’t want to forget.
   
  Yellowstone River- The Yellowstone River in Montana is truly a trouter’s paradise. With nearly 200 miles of productive water outside Yellowstone National Park the river has plenty of variety to challenge and delight experts through beginners. The Yellowstone is a classic freestone river home to large numbers of cutthroat, brown and rainbow trout as well as whitefish. If large fish populations, a few truly large fish, and the classic structure aren’t enough to lure you, the Yellowstone flows through some of the most beautiful countryside anywhere. The ‘stone can have spectacular dry fly fishing as well as good nymphing and streamer action. Through its length in Montana the Yellowstone is a large river making the wading difficult, especially earlier in the summer. Drift boats or rafts give anglers a distinct advantage here and also are the best way to see some of the outstanding scenery this area has to offer. The flows of the Yellowstone are completely undammed and unregulated so conditions are at the mercy of the weather and snowpack. Spring runoff floods the river and often makes it run muddy and unfishable from May to June and often into July. Fishing either before or after the high, muddy flows in the spring is often very good, but mid summer through fall is a much more consistent time to fish the Yellowstone. The floods of spring help carve out classic riffle-pool-run structure in this freestone river, providing fish with diverse holding water and anglers with rewarding opportunities.


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