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channels to fish where they won’t be interrupted by boats.

Gallatin River The Gallatin flows out of Yellowstone National Park and meets the Madison and Jefferson rivers west of Bozeman, where that trio forms the Missouri River. The Gallatin is one of the most heavily fished streams in the state, which made me all the more entertained one day when I fielded a phone call from a man who wouldn’t identify himself, but was happy to yell, “Thomas, don’t you ever write about the Gallatin again. You are giving away all of the secrets.” To which I responded, “If you think the Gallatin is a secret you ought to put the Cheetos down, get off the couch once in a while, and find some of the really good fishing that’s out there.” That’s not to say the Gallatin doesn’t provide great fishing from its source in the park to its outlet near Three Forks.

Throughout that course anglers find rainbows, browns and some cutthroats between 6 and 15 inches, and a few larger than that. But mostly the Gallatin is known for smallish fish. So is it worth fishing? Resoundingly, yes. This is a great wadefishing option from the time high water diminishes—usually in midto late-July—all the way into early November when the snow flies. In July and August the Gallatin produces great mayfly, stonefly and caddis hatches. In addition, the trout key in on terrestrials, including grasshoppers, ants, spruce moths and beetles. They’ll take imitations of those, along with general attractor patterns such as Royal Wulffs, Parachute Adams and Elk Hair Caddis. In September and October, anglers see a blue-wing olive emergence and the trout spend entire afternoons lazily rising for those bugs. Anglers who can accurately and delicately cast a size-18 blue-wing olive imitation may hook 20 trout in an afternoon with absolutely no competition from other anglers.

Big Hole River Montana Headwall Page 42 Summer 2014

Some of the Gallatin’s best water stretches from inside the park (where you’ll need a park fishing license) downstream to Storm Castle Meadows. In the park, anglers fish a windy, willow-lined meadow section with deep pools and cutbanks. Fan Creek, one of the Gallatin’s major tributaries, also offers great fishing, but you have to hike in to fish it. And if you do so, keep a keen eye for grizzly bears. Below the park boundary anglers access the Gallatin via numerous pull-offs and campgrounds. However, beware of that stretch after a summer thunderstorm—runoff from the Taylor’s Fork clouds the Gallatin below that confluence. o matter where you choose to cast a line this summer, try getting in the water with the fish. Wading in a river, feeling the current against your legs and examining all that happens at eyelevel—from insect emergences to the feeding habits of trout—reveals information you would not glean when passing by in a boat. And that makes you a smarter, more successful angler.

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Montana Headwall