Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Yellowstone River - Outside Yellowstone
From Gardiner to Livingston is just over fifty miles. Route 89 follows the river closely most of
the way. Starting just below Gardner, the river is normally moving fast with large, long pools
broken up with short sections of rapids. There are a few places the river can be fished from the
bank but wading is impossible in most places. The section from Gardiner to Cowin Springs is
best fished from a drift boat. There is a good population of rainbows and cutthroats in this
Below Cowin Springs, the river drops into Jim Yankee Canyon. Just below Cowin Springs, the
river slows down some and is easier to fish than the section above Cowin Springs. The canyon
section is best fished by wading. It has some large, deep pools that hold nice sized brown trout.
It can be fished from a drift boat but should first be done with an experienced person because
it has some sections that are very difficult to navigate. Most outfitters avoid this section. There
are some major sections of rapids.
Below Jim Yankee Canyon from the Carbella Access downstream to the Point of Rocks area,
the river consist mostly of pocket water. Below Point of Rocks, the river slows down and the
pools become much longer and larger downstream to Emigrant. The Gray Owl Access below
Emigrant is a popular put in location for drift boats. This section down to Mallard's Rest has
some large browns and rainbows. It is mostly moderate flowing water with large pools.
The section from Mallard's Rest all the way down to Carter's Bridge, is the most popular
section to fish from a drift boat. It also has some excellent bank and wade fishing areas. This is
in the heart of Paradise Valley and the scenery is the most beautiful of all of the Yellowstone
outside the park in our opinion. Armstrong's Spring Creek, DePuy's and Nelson's Spring
Creeks flow into the river in this section. The trout are mostly rainbows but there are still plenty
From Carter's Bridge downstream through Livingston, the river consist mostly of faster water
with mixture of pools, runs and riffles. The trout are mostly rainbows. Access is fairly good in
this area and wading is popular. Drift boats provide better access to more great areas along
this part of the river.
From Livingston to Big Timber, the river still consist mostly of pools and riffles but they are
larger and farther apart. The fishing pressure is not as heavy. The fish may not be as plentiful
but it is still considered very good by most anglers. The scenery is still beautiful but quite
different. The mountains are in the distance and the river is lined with cottonwood trees. The
river follows Interstate 90 headed East. The area has good access with several points it can be
fished by wading or by boat.
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Yellowstone River, Montana