Montana Trip Planning

Camo Clad Warrior

Active Member
Hey Guys,

Looking for help planning a trip. My wife and I along with our dog would like to make a trip to Yellowstone. Yellowstone will be the destination on this trip and we plan on towing our drift boat while fishing and camping along the way. My thought is to leave my home in Sedro Woolley, WA and drive directly to Yellowstone. Spend a few days exploring the park and starting the journey back heading north into Montana and make our way home. I would like to camp most of the time but am open to some hotel stays as well.

As I know many of you have made this type of trip before what are some tips, places to stay, things to see, and of course places to fish. We are hoping for areas with shuttles and easy rowing as my wife and I are both newer to rowing. We are thinking in the summer, so time frame recommendations would be good. In addition we are thinking of taking about two weeks off work to make this trip happen.

Also extra credit for cool fly shops to stop at.

TIA CCW
 

scottcat

Active Member
Hey Guys,

Looking for help planning a trip. My wife and I along with our dog would like to make a trip to Yellowstone. Yellowstone will be the destination on this trip and we plan on towing our drift boat while fishing and camping along the way. My thought is to leave my home in Sedro Woolley, WA and drive directly to Yellowstone. Spend a few days exploring the park and starting the journey back heading north into Montana and make our way home. I would like to camp most of the time but am open to some hotel stays as well.

As I know many of you have made this type of trip before what are some tips, places to stay, things to see, and of course places to fish. We are hoping for areas with shuttles and easy rowing as my wife and I are both newer to rowing. We are thinking in the summer, so time frame recommendations would be good. In addition we are thinking of taking about two weeks off work to make this trip happen.

Also extra credit for cool fly shops to stop at.

TIA CCW
Might want to verify having dogs in the park. I seem to remember but not sure if they're allowed.
 

MT_Flyfisher

Active Member
I’ve spent my summers in MT for the past 20 years, mostly on the Yellowstone River just north of the Park. Here are my suggestions.

Today is not too early to finalize your plans, and make reservations for your trip this summer. Tomorrow may be too late.

I would suggest that you leave your drift boat at home. Why? Because you can’t use it on a river inside the park, and towing it or finding a convenient place to securely leave it at a campground inside the park can be problematic. Also, you’d have to contend with the wind if you’d use it on a lake inside or outside the Park. If you had said you or your wife were more comfortable rowing it, I might have recommended using it on the Yellowstone, Madison or Snake rivers just outside the Park, or one of the lakes outside the Park. Those aren’t exactly rivers where you want to learn how to row, unless you’re with an experienced rower, or you should wait until the river levels have receded sometime later in the summer.

As far as campgrounds, I would plan to pick just one or two, and stay there for your trip duration. Keep in mind that the Park is an absolute jungle in the summertime with the hoard of tourists, more every year, that descend on it. I would probably try to stay at just place one that’s relatively central inside the Park, one where you can make reservations, like Fishing Bridge, Bay Bridge, Madison Junction, or Grant’s Village. Or, plan on arriving at one of the other non-reservable campgrounds at the crack of dawn, and keeping your fingers crossed that a campsite becomes available. Alternatively, there are Forest Service and private campgrounds outside the Park, near West Yellowstone, for example, but driving into and out of the Park can also be a nightmare in that he summer due to the volume of traffic, unless you’re willing to go in the Park near daylight.

Since you said summer for your trip, I’d suggest sometime after July 15th (assuming that’s when the Yellowstone opens for fishing this year - I haven’t checked this year’s opening date) or wait until August when there’s the potential for good Grasshopper and terrestrial fishing out in the Lamar Valley, for example. Last year was an epic grasshopper season.

John

p.s. there are many fly shops in every town near Yellowstone, and they are all good. If you do bring your drift boat they can recommend or arrange shuttles for you.
 
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Mike.Cline

Bozeman, Montana
Although dogs are certainly allowed in YNP, there are some serious restrictions that will impact your visit if both want to fish. First, outside of a vehicle dogs must be on a leash at all times. 2nd, dogs cannot be left unattended in a vehicle. 3rd, dogs cannot be taken on any trail and must remain is designated parking areas. In other words, you can’ take the dog fishing with you in YNP.
 

Mike.Cline

Bozeman, Montana
Here’s the deal on timing a trip to YNP or SW MT to fish.

March - Mid-May - Most big/medium SW MT rivers fish well. YNP Fishing closed
Late May - June - Most big/medium SW MT rivers in some stage of runoff. YNP season opens Memorial Day weekend. Epic fishing on Firehole, Madison and Gibbon in YNP
July - Early September - SW MT rivers in prime summer conditions. In YNP, NE area streams including Yellowstone river in their prime. YNP NW streams—Firehole, Gibbon and Madison are crap.
Mid-September - November - Great Fall fishing on SW MT rivers and NW area streams in YNP. NE area streams are crap (too cold) Park season closes 1st Sunday in Nov.

Re the drift boat. No matter what river in SW MT you want to fish—Yellowstone, Madison, Big Hole, Missouri, Jefferson, Beaverhead, there are shuttles available. Camping opportunities abound, especially outside the park. Fly shops abound as well and there’s at least one in easy reach of any popular river.

My advice where ever and when ever you decide: Do Not Try To Do Too Much in One Trip. The operative word in Big Sky County is: BIG!
 
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scottcat

Active Member
Although dogs are certainly allowed in YNP, there are some serious restrictions that will impact your visit if both want to fish. First, outside of a vehicle dogs must be on a leash at all times. 2nd, dogs cannot be left unattended in a vehicle. 3rd, dogs cannot be taken on any trail and must remain is designated parking areas. In other words, you can’ take the dog fishing with you in YNP.
Thanks for the clarification.
 

Dr. Magill

Active Member
You should pm Swimmy
He lives there and is a good dude. His online persona is a little different than the real deal.
I work for him
 

Camo Clad Warrior

Active Member
Thanks for all the help guys. With no music festivals or beer festivals happening any time in the near future we decided why not get out of here and go fishing. I think we would like to go to Yellowstone to see what it is all about. fishing is the mission so if that means spending most of our time out of the park and away from everyone I am ok wit that as well.

Thanks again for all the great tips.
 

Hem

Active Member
I would hedge about floating an unknown river just because you have a boat.
 

Swimmy

Practice your craft.
WFF Supporter
I would hedge about floating an unknown river just because you have a boat.

DSC_6286.jpg
 

Camo Clad Warrior

Active Member

Every time i see this type of stuff it scares the crap out of me. I have rowing experience and generally make sure to not get myself in over my head. I try and find nice flat section my wife can row so I can fish. I would be ok floating a couple days and wading most of the time if that's what it takes.

I think we have decided to forgo YNP as it seem a bit much on the first trip over.so maybe a week or so of different fishing option in August would be the go too as I love throwing hoppers.
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
If your going to fish Skinny water here in Montana. Just about any water flowing down hill has Trout in them of some kind. I've caught fish out of streams that were only about a foot wide. But they are a little deeper than a foot.

Beside I prefer to fish small Skinny water. They are sorely under fished because all visitors that come here want to fish the Blue Ribbon streams. You will be surprised as to what is swimming in these waters.
 

Mike.Cline

Bozeman, Montana
I would be ok floating a couple days and wading most of the time if that's what it takes.

I think we have decided to forgo YNP as it seem a bit much on the first trip over.so maybe a week or so of different fishing option in August would be the go too as I love throwing hoppers.
Based on what you are contemplating, I'd plan to pick a central location as kind of a basecamp and work the waters thoroughly within easy reach. In August, most all waters will be fishing well. Some will be crowded, some not. Here are a couple of suggestions.

Livingston-Emigrant-Paradise Valley - Easy access to 60+ miles of the Yellowstone River with excellent floating conditions and reasonable wading opportunities, especially while floating. Also smaller waters such as the Shields, Spring Creeks and Boulder aren't too far away. Additionally, you can certainly sneak into Yellowstone at Gardiner for some sight-seeing.

Bozeman-Big Sky - Primarily the Gallatin (wade fishing for the most part) but not too far from the Yellowstone or the Madison.

Twin Bridges - Great access to all sections of the Big Hole, Beaverhead and Ruby. Not too far from the Madison.

In August, the Madison WILL BE CROWDED and unless you are savvy to the river, IMHO you will probably be disappointed. On the other hand, the Yellowstone seems to handle the pressure in August fairly well as it is a much larger river. Rivers like the Big Hole, Beaverhead and Ruby don't get near the pressure the Gallatin, Yellowstone and Madison get. You could spend months exploring the Big Hole.

Once you figure out where you might want to go, I'll be happy to share some knowledge. Just PM me.
 
Camo,
If you are thinking this may be your first of many trips to Montana, you could take the approach my wife and I did. Starting about 20-25 years ago, we would take 2 weeks and go to MT/ID and camp in one place for 3-4 days and fish the stream/s in that vicinity and then move on. After a few years of doing this, we now have a few favorite destinations and we go to one or two of them each year and stay for a week or two, which reduces the logistics and maximizes fishing time. We still will take a few days sometimes to check out a new area, but don't feel the need to fish every stream.
Dick
 

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