More Amazing Rivers
The Madison River and Earthquake ‘Quake’ Lake
Beginning in Wyoming at the junction of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers, the Madison River flows through the most thermally active region in the United States; Yellowstone National Park. The Madison’s confluence with the Jefferson and Gallatin rivers near Three Forks, form the Missouri river. From its head, the Madison flows over 100 miles to its confluence.
Upon leaving the Park, the Madison gathers in Hebgen Lake and joins with the waters of Grayling Creek, Spring Creek, Cougar Creek, the South Fork of the Madison and several other small streams. Hebgen Lake contains trout that can weigh up to 12 pounds and can be fished from the shore or a boat. Even though the river downstream from the Hebgen spillway sees fishing pressure for twelve months of the year, this 2 mile stretch can produce quality trout in large numbers.
This small section of river gives way to a body of water, Earthquake Lake, better known as Quake Lake, which was created on August 17, 1959 by a catastrophic south-western Montana earthquake that registered 7.5 on the Richter scale. Quake Lake offers decent fly fishing for brown trout, which are stocked yearly, along with rainbow trout. The best fishing on Quake Lake occurs in late spring and early summer, and again later in the summer and fall.
The stretch below the landslide dam is called the ‘Wasteland’ or ‘Moonscape’ by local anglers because of the flood-water destroyed river banks. Many of the trout below the lake are large and voracious, giving them an advantage in the very rapid water. Downstream the flow is characterized by a shallow, broad, and rapid “fifty-mile riffle,” as it has so often been described.
The Gallatin River
The Gallatin River is a tributary of the Missouri River. It’s one of three rivers, along with the Jefferson and Madison rivers that converge near Three Forks, Montana to form the Missouri River. The river was named in 1805 by Meriwether Lewis. The western form was named for President Thomas Jefferson and the central fork for then Secretary of State James Madison.
The Gallatin offers excellent dry fly fishing on a river that receives relatively low fishing pressure in beautiful scenic surroundings. The fish are not finicky eaters either, which makes the Gallatin River an excellent place for learning how to fly fish.
Along its upper stretches, the river is not very deep allowing it to be fully waded from shore to shore. The trout on the river consist of brown, rainbow trout, and mountain white fish and average around 12 inches, with 16 inches considered a large trout – although some lunkers exceeding 20 inches are found. Grayling and cutthroat trout are also found in the Gallatin River. Parts of the Gallatin are designated Blue Ribbon while others are considered Red Ribbon. Portions of A River Runs Through It were filmed on the Gallatin River.
The Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River originates in Wyoming and flows through Yellowstone National Park before entering Montana at Gardiner. From the park boundary to Livingston, the river flows north through Paradise Valley, flanked by the Absarokee Mountains on the east and the Gallatin Range on the west. It continues in a northeasterly direction from Livingston and meets up with the Missouri River just across the North Dakota border.
The Yellowstone has survived as one of the last, large, free flowing rivers in the continental United States. It is still the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states. From the clear, coldwater cutthroat trout fishery in Yellowstone National Park to the warmer water habitat at its mouth, the river supports a variety of aquatic environments that remain relatively undisturbed. The adjacent terrestrial environment, through most of the 550 Montana miles of river, is an impressive cottonwood-willow bottomland.
The river has also been a major factor in the settlement of southeastern Montana, and retains much cultural and historical significance. The Yellowstone River is considered one of the great trout fishing locations in the world.
The Firehole River
The Firehole River is one of two major tributaries of the Madison River. From its start at Madison Lake, on the Continental Divide, it flows approximately 21 miles to join the Gibbon River at the Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park. Because the stream appears to be smoking as if on fire, due to it flow through several significant geyser basins in Yellowstone Park, early trappers named it Firehole River. The Firehole is a magnificent trout stream. Perhaps one of the most unique experiences to fishing the Firehole is the opportunity to cast to wild trout while free roaming bison and elk graze alongside you.
The Buffalo River is a tributary of the Henry’s Fork and is located near Island Park, Idaho. The river is a relatively slow moving fishery that is easy to wade and perfect for the beginner or someone looking for any easy place to fish. Rainbow and brook trout are plentiful. At the junction of the Buffalo River and the Henry’s Fork, a very popular stretch begins known as Box Canyon.
Bitch Creek begins as two small creeks that flow out of the peaks of the Teton mountain range in Wyoming, and eventually meet near the Idaho/Wyoming border. Bitch Creek is a tributary of the Teton River, which is a tributary of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River.
The prime fishing waters of Bitch Creek is about a 15 miles stretch and access is difficult. However, it’s an ideal location for the fisherman who is looking for quiet, tranquil fishing, where the fish are virtually undisturbed and plentiful.
Located in Yellowstone National Park, the Gibbon River is fly fishing only and catch and release below Gibbon Falls. The Gibbon rises in the middle of the park at Grebe Lake and eventually flows to its confluence with the Firehole River that eventually forms the Madison River.
The Gibbon is very popular for trout fishing with plenty of brook, rainbow and grayling in the upper stretches and a healthy mix of brown and rainbow below the falls.
The Gardner River (also known as the Gardiner River) is a tributary of the Yellowstone River, is entirely located within Yellowstone National Park. The river rises in the northern part of the park and winds southeast until it reaches Gardner’s Hole and meets with other small tributaries.
Higher up the river the fish are quite small, however as the river makes its way through the Mammoth-Gardner area the fishing is plentiful and the fish are much larger.