Idaho Fly Fishers Blog

Big Y Fly Company

Big Y Fly Company
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Discussing fishing flies, trout flies, salmon flies, fly fishing gear and equipment, Idaho and Montana fishing rivers, NW rivers, fly tying and fly fishing trips. Over 50 years experience in fly fishing, best flies, fly tying, fly fishing techniques, fish stories, directions to rivers and lakes and great fly fishing tall tales with special communications from area guides.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Montana Grand Slam

The Montana Grand Slam- Brought to you by YellowStoneFly of the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. Central Montana is a trout water haven. This post will breifly discuss the opportunities for Idaho (Montana) fly fishing in the central Montana area just east of the continental divide. For those of you who are not familiar with this area, the following rivers are all within a stones throw of eachother:
Jefferson + Madison = Missouri
The Dearborn
The Jefferson
The Gallatin
The Madison
The Missouri
The Yellowstone

The following are west of the continental divide, but again within very close proximity to the others listed above:
The Bitterroot
The Blackfoot
The Clark Fork
The Flathead
The Kootenai
The Rock Creek

Gallatin just before the Missouri
Some of these have been the subject of prior blog posts, but to get a complete listing visit our QuickView Blog Post page. All are premier trout rivers and should be visited by all avid fly fishers. I will attempt to map out for you trips which will not hurt you pocket books and will allow for fishing on multiple rivers with each pass. The central Montana Grand Slam discussed here, in my opinion, consists of fishing the Jefferson, Gallatin, Madison and Missouri. The headwaters of the Missouri actually begin just north of Three Forks, MT where the Jefferson and the Madison come together with the Gallatin merging in only about a quarter mile below this. The best fishing on the Missouri however is below the Canyon Ferry dam and is a GREAT tailwater fishery. In my opinion, fall provides the best consistent fishing. Spring is good, but the waters can be quite swollen due to the snow melt. Summer fishing is generally slow due to the warmer waters but can still be good below the dam.

Jefferson River whitefish
Getting there, well there are numerous guides for the Three Forks area located in Bozeman, Mt. But for my taste, I would fly into Helena, rent a car and drive to them all. Helena has an airport which is mostly served by Delta out of Salt Lake City. If you are going to drive, go east on I-90 to I-15 from the west. Driving from the south, definitely take I-15. If you are coming from the east go I-90 to Three Forks, fish the first three, then take Highway 287 up to I-15 at Helena. All are actually very easy to access.

Missouri River scenery
Accommodations can, along with guide services, be located in Bozeman, Three Forks, Helena and even Great Falls. The Gallatin is tough to wade, so you'll need a boat. The Jefferson and Madison have accesses all along the way, so you can decide for yourself. The Missouri below the dam has limited wading access but can be done. You would however be better off with a guide in a drift boat or renting a pontoon.

Enough about these for now. There will be more to come so tune in. Happy Idaho fly fishing and don't forget about our neighbors to the east.

Tags: Big Horn River - Montana
          Big Wood River - Idaho
          Bull River - Montana

Jefferson River N. of I-15 / S. of I-90


  1. I am planning to visit Bozeman with my family, i am sure it will be a great holiday experience for us, fingers crossed till that time.

  2. If you are going to Bozeman, you may want to drive over toward Livingston, MT and fish the Yellowstone up toward Yellowstone Park. While in Livingston don't forget to visit Dan Bailey's Fly Shop which is in the middle of downtown Livingston. Good luck. YellowStoneFly.