The Yellowstone Valley is home to some of the best fishing anywhere in the world. From our headquarters in Livingston, Montana, you will have easy access to a variety of streams and creeks. Some of the more popular include the Yellowstone River, Gallatin River, Lower Madison River, Boulder River, Spring Creeks and just a short drive away - Yellowstone National Park.
Dan Bailey's has everything you need to enjoy a day of fishing. From information about all of the local rivers and the quality of fishing to guided trips we can provide you with all you need.
Below we have listed first options that are within comfortable reach of the immediate Livingston and Paradise Valley area. Please note that these are static overviews of the river, its fishing, and what to expect. For current and up to date fishing reports call the shop at 406.222.1673. Online fishing reports coming soon!
Flowing northward out of Yellowstone National Park through Paradise Valley to Livingston Montana the world famous Yellowstone River is the main focus of our fishing day in and day out all year long. A free flowing river (the longest in the lower 48 states) the Yellowstone combines blue-ribbon fishing, truly spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife viewing opportunities and a plethora of bug life that all provide an exceptional fishing experience.
Boasting large numbers of browns, rainbows and native Yellowstone Cutthroat trout the Yellowstone River has provided many an angler with a true trout of a lifetime. Whether you are here to experience highlight events like river blanketing caddis hatches, the emergence of giant salmon flies, the multitude of mayfly species present, summer invasions of hoppers or the adrenaline rush of fall streamer fishing the Yellowstone brings all the components of experiencing a big western river together.
While the ‘Stone does provide great opportunities for wade fishing at lower flows it is fished best from a boat and is the focus of our guided float trips. There is plenty of public access to be had in Paradise Valley upstream from Livingston as well more access below Livingston down to Columbus. When planning your trip to fish the Yellowstone be sure to consider spring-runoff which typically can affect the river from the middle of May to early July. There is no closed season on the Yellowstone at this time. While not often thought of as a winter fishery, warmer days can produce good numbers of fish (as long as you can dodge the ice!)
Madison River (Lower)
Approximately 50 miles west of Livingston lies the Lower Madison River. The Lower Madison flows out of Ennis Lake to Three Forks, where it forms the Missouri River with the Gallatin and Jefferson Rivers. While not as well-known as the Upper Madison (above Ennis Lake), the Lower also provides plenty of public access, comfortable wade or float fishing, no shortage of bugs and is available to fish all year for very quality browns and rainbow trout.
As a tailwater river, we will utilize the Lower Madison for our float trips on occasion when the Yellowstone is out of form or by request. As this stretch gets warm early it is a popular float with tubers and recreationalists. Due to this and warm water temps, the river truly shines as a tailwater fishery.
If you’ve ever watched A River Runs Through It, you know the Gallatin River. Located approximately 35 miles from Livingston, it flows from its headwaters in Yellowstone National Park through the Gallatin Canyon until it spills into the Gallatin Valley just outside of Bozeman. This smaller river has incredible public access through the canyon off of US 191.
The Gallatin provides consistent action for wild browns and rainbows on both nymphing and dry fly tactics and sees great hatches of caddis, stoneflies and PMDs. While not a regular part of our guiding program we do have guides we can pair you up with that work the river regularly when your lodging leans in that direction or you don't mind making the drive over.
Thirty miles east of Livingston the Boulder River is an opportunity to fish water a little less traveled while not giving up quality fishing. A freestone stream tumbling down out of the Beartooth-Absaroka Wilderness, the Boulder River provides a very good option for a day trip away from Livingston to fish for rainbows, browns and cutthroat trout.
Traveling south from I-90 upstream into the picturesque Boulder valley there are a few state access sites to fish the lower reaches of the main Boulder near Big Timber and on upstream to McLeod. The middle reaches of the Boulder do not afford much public fishing access however exploring the West fork of the Boulder is well worth the effort.
As you continue upstream high into the national forest service area you will find plenty of access, several great picnic and camping areas to enjoy a day trip or overnight stay on the Boulder River. The dirt road into this region, while being a bit rough, does not present standard vehicles with anything impassable.
The well-known spring creeks; Armstrong’s, Nelsons and DePuy are located just south of Livingston MT approximately 6-8 miles in Paradise Valley and are an excellent way to challenge your skills regardless of your experience level. Unaffected by runoff, these aquifer-fed creeks run cool and constant all year providing consistent and often heavy hatches to test yourself with while enjoying a very pastoral experience sight fishing at close range to savvy wild trout.
While fishing these creeks does incorporate a rod fee, each of these properties are well worth it to experience wading amongst very high numbers of very quality wild trout. Given the consistent water temp, these waters are our go to for winter fishing. Rod fees are discounted in the shoulder seasons and winter, and must be reserved in advance. Available rods book up quickly for the peak dates, so book early or be disappointed!