Craig Montana Fly Fishing Guides, Trips & Clinics

Trout Streams & Rivers

The Yellowstone River

guided fly fishing float trip montana

Guided fly fishing trips on the mighty Yellowstone River, the longest undammed river in the United States. The focus of our fly fishing extends from the town of Gardiner, MT to Columbus, MT. The Yellowstone River is a large western river, and we like to fish from a drift boat, stopping to wade places that are inaccessible otherwise. Brown trout, rainbow trout, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout are the target species and average 14-18 inches. Large trout over 20 inches are caught throughout the Yellowstone river, but we think the best sections for large trout are upstream from Livingston, MT in the Paradise Valley down to Columbus, MT.

The Yellowstone River is open year-round with outstanding fishing opportunities occurring from March through the end of October. The Mother’s Day caddis hatch in late April and into early May is the hatch of a lifetime. Depending on the day, you can see every trout in the river up and feeding. When run-off season hits, the Yellowstone river is high and mostly unfishable, but when the flows begin to drop, the stoneflies and caddisflies make for some great dry fly fishing. Nymphs and streamers also produce many large trout from the end of run-off well into the summer. At the end of July, the hopper and terrestrial fishing begins, and big dries produce big trout all the way into late October. Fall trout fishing on the Yellowstone river is awesome, and big streamers catch big trout!

The Madison River

The Madison River is a mighty body of water that reaches from Yellowstone National Park to Three Forks, Montana. Sea and Stream Outfitters specializes in fly fishing two sections of the Madison river known as the upper Madison and the lower Madison.

The Madison River is a double tailwater fishery that boasts some of the largest brown trout and rainbow trout in Montana. Most trout average 14-18 inches and many trophy trout over 20 inches are caught and released each year. Not only are the trout big and beautiful, but the Madison river offers some of the most spectacular scenery in Montana. The Madison river is a year-round fishery and fishes well even during the winter months, although we keep a close eye on the weather.

The Missouri River

 Fly fishing opportunities on the Missouri River are endless.  Missouri River is formed at the confluence of the Madison river, Gallatin river, and Jefferson river in Three Forks, Montana. The “Mighty Mo” offers the finest in tail-water fishing below Holter Lake. The Missouri river has more trout per mile than any river in Montana. Not to mention, most of these trout are large. Averaging 18 to 20 inches in length and known to give a powerful run, these trout are the hardest fighting fish around. When hooked, many of these trout go to the backing instantly. Brown trout and Rainbow trout over 20 inches are not at all uncommon. Missouri river action is hot year-around with the peak season being May thru October. The Missouri river is a tailwater fishery that produces large Mayfly, Caddis fly, and Trico hatches. Pods of large trout are found rising throughout the early spring, summer and fall. Don’t forget about streamers and nymphs; they are always a good bet on the Missouri river as well.

The Jefferson River

The Jefferson River is one of Montana fly fishing’s best kept secrets. The Big Hole river, Beaverhead river, and Ruby river come together and form the Jefferson river. Over the years, irrigation has taken its toll on trout populations in the Jefferson river. However, over the last several years, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department has made an effort to work in conjunction with landowners to restore the Jefferson river to its old glory. It has worked! Known for its warm waters in the dead of summer, the Jefferson river is generally suited for fishing early and late in the season. Although trout populations are not as high as some of the other blue ribbon watersheds in Montana, the Jefferson river is home to some serious bruisers (5-10 lbs), and we believe that the populations of trout are increasing. A short drive from Bozeman, Montana this is one river you don’t want to miss when you come to southwestern Montana.

The Gallatin River

The opportunities for  float and wade fly fishing trips on the Gallatin River are endless.  The Gallatin’s  headwaters begin in Yellowstone National Park where the river meanders through a high mountain meadow with the Gallatin Mountain Range to the east and the Madison Mountain Range to the west. As the Gallatin river flows north toward Bozeman it runs through the famed Gallatin Canyon which is a wade fisherman’s dream. After leaving the canyon, the Gallatin river turns into a valley river with mountain views in every direction. The trout in the Gallatin river average 10-12 inches with many larger fish in the lower reaches of the river as it flows into the Missouri river. Although the Gallatin river’s small size and accessibility make it a great wade fishing stream, there are amazing float fishing opportunities on the lower river. Many Brown trout and Rainbow trout are taken over 20 inches on the lower section of the Gallatin river; therefore, we focus much of our fishing on the Gallatin down low.

Fly fishing on the  Gallatin river is available year-round.  The peak of the dry fly fishing in the early spring, summer and fall. Run-off season usually occurs from mid-May to early June although it can vary. When you plan your Montana fly fishing trip don’t forget the Gallatin river. It is a little piece of heaven.

The Ruby River

Simply said, the fly fishing on the Ruby river is as good as it gets.   The Ruby is a very small river that produces big trout on big dry flies. A wade fishing trip is the only way to access this small freestone gem. The Ruby river above the Ruby Reservoir is a meandering meadow stream with endless riffles and beautiful pools that are home to many large brown trout and rainbow trout. The average trout is 12-14 inches, but many larger trout are caught and released. Below the Ruby Reservoir, the river is a small tailwater fishery with a solid population of trout looking to eat big dry flies and streamers.

The East Gallatin River

Fly fishing trips on the the East Gallatin River in the Gallatin Valley are endless.  This combination freestone and spring creed fishery  is home to about 3,000 trout per mile. A small river with easy wading,  the winding East Gallatin River is one of our staple fly fishing venues. Trout average 12-14 inches and larger  are taken with with streamers, dry flies, and nymphs depending on the time of year. The East Gallatin river is a year-round fishery with large hatches of mayflies, caddisflies, and tricos emerging in the early spring and into the summer and with massive baetis hatches in the fall. Pods of rising trout can be found throughout the year, and the nymph fishing is always a safe bet.

The Boulder River

The Boulder river emerges from the Absaroka Mountains and flows north into the Yellowstone river at Big Timber, Montana. As the name implies, it is a very rocky river and is filled with pocket water, and of course, lots and lots of trout. Brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroats in the 12-16 inch range are caught on dry flies with the occasional trout 20 inches or better being caught throughout the summer months. Spectacular trout habitat leading up to the Absaroka Mountains make this valley stream one you won’t want to miss.

The Stillwater River

Ultimate pocket water freestone dry fly fishing for sizable trout in a classic Montana trout stream.  Awesome whitewater raft ride while sleighing cadet rainbows and browns on dries and streamers.

The Sun River

The “Healing Waters River” gets its name from the Blackfeet Indians.  Wade or float this pristine Montana fishery in search of large trout with a picturesque Rocky Mountain Front Skyline.

The Marias River

The Marias River below Tiber Dam is a tail water with some big fish and there are some great floating opportunities on this hard to reach fishery.  An oasis in the plains, this river boasts rainbow, brown, bass, walleye, and pike.

The Musselshell River

The Musselshell River is one Montana’s best brown trout rivers, but is very temperamental during drought years.  The Musselshell is feast or famine, but always worth the risk of an orange pumpkin.

Small Streams, Spring Creeks, and Private Water

Sea and Stream fly fishing guide’s take pride in fishing virtually every small stream and spring creek in the Missouri watershed  and beyond. If it’s out there, we have probably fished it! Want to get off the beaten path and fish some new water? Small water and big fish are our specialties. Ask about our specialty fly fishing venues