Where to Fish the Yellowstone River for Spring Trophy Browns

By Andy Whitcomb

Apr 08, 2024

The Yellowstone River is a popular fly fishing destination for targeting brown trout. Here are some tips on where, when, and how to try to catch a trophy brown trout on this beautiful river.

By “browns” of course, we mean the brown trout. Introduced to the United States in the late 1800’s from Europe and a common staple in many state stocking programs, the brown trout has done very well, often achieving trophy sizes and providing great fishing opportunities in many waters. The Yellowstone River in Montana is one of those destinations for fly fishing anglers. And where to fish the Yellowstone River for spring trophy browns is often to linked to other fishing information such as “how” and “when.”

How to Fish

For example, there are two main popular types of fly-fishing approaches. Dry fly fishing for brown trout in Yellowstone is with a fly that remains on the surface resembling surface landing insects; nymphing for brown trout in the Yellowstone is a heavier fly which may impersonate aquatic insects or small fish. Which types of fly is determined by the current trout feeding behavior. For example, if you see fish rising, start with a dry fly and try to be accurate and stealthy with your casts. Because it can have abrupt shore banks and be deep and swift, Yellowstone River drift boat fishing for brown trout is common for either fly fishing method and allows an angler to cover greater distances of water without having to pick a shore location to start.

When to Go

Yellowstone River water levels in spring are increasing as snow begins to melt. The Montana fly fishing season for brown trout is year round but there may be exception areas so be sure to read the most recent regulations. Yellowstone River spring fly hatches can be amazing events. If ever there was a time to celebrate and take advantage of the arrival of sky-filling insects, this is it. Anglers often time their visits to try to experience some of these hatches. Some hatches may only last a few hours in an area, but when it occurs then fly anglers could be on one of the Yellowstone River best spots for springtime trophy brown fly fishing.

What to Bring

First, you will need a Montana fishing license. Also, pick up (or print off) the Yellowstone River fishing regulations. Not only will this provide important limit information such as in most places 5 trout daily, with only 1 over 18 inches, it also is a useful source for determining where to fish the Yellowstone River for spring trophy browns as it has river information broken down by Eastern and Central Districts. There are also Yellowstone River fly fishing guide services. Of course you can wade the river on your own, but if fishing windows are short, a guide can show you not only the best fly boxes for Yellowstone River fishing but the best fly rods for fly fishing in Yellowstone, commonly 6 wt., and the Yellowstone River best spots for springtime trophy brown fly fishing. And since you are thinking of going this far, why not investigate the Yellowstone River fishing lodges near Bozeman? Some of these establishments have websites with great, up-to-date information about what to bring based on fishing reports and river flow gauges.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.