Hebgen Lake is located about 20 minutes west of West Yellowstone and is created by the Hebgen Dam. It is well known for the 1959, 7.5 earthquake that took place nearby and created Earthquake ‘Quake’ Lake, which is located just downstream. Hebgen Lake is considered by some guides to be the finest dry fly lake in North America. Hebgen has a healthy population of browns, cutthroats and rainbows. Fly fishing can be productive whether you use wet or dry flies.
From mid-July through August the callibaetis hatch is in full swing. Typically, anglers will sight fish to the cruising gulpers.
The Madison and South Fork arms are a favorite amongst fly fisherman. Both are on the eastern section of Hebgen where the Madison River feeds into it. The fish typically range between 14 to 18 inches with some into the 20 inch category.
The Fall River
The largest Henry’s Fork tributary. The river was referred to as The Falls River by trappers and prospectors in the early 1800’s, and was historically named the Falls River in 1872 by the Hayden Geological Survey. However, in 1997 the name was changed to Fall River at the request of Idaho authorities.
The Fall River begins on the Madison and Pitchstone Plateau in the southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park. From there, the river flows 64 miles to its confluence with the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River near Warm River, Idaho. The river is largely inaccessible by road.
Fall River has good fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout, and they get larger the higher upstream you go. The long hike and off-trail access minimize fishing pressure. However, there are many places to access the lower river.
Because of its easy access, the Cave Falls area sees the most fishing. The trout average 10 inches in this stretch and the action is good. These streams produce big trout although in the past few decades’ brook trout have reached these waters.
The Madison River & “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 called Earthquake Lake, better known as Quake Lake. Quake Lake was formed on August 17, 1959 by a catastrophic south-western Montana earthquake that registered 7.5 on the Richter scale. The lake offers decent fly fishing for brown trout, which are stocked yearly, along with rainbow trout. However, the best fishing on Quake Lake occurs in late spring and early summer, and again in late 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
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 fork 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 larger fish 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 the movie, 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. The river continues in a northeasterly direction from Livingston and meets up with the Missouri River just across the North Dakota border.
The Yellowstone River 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- a bucket list river, for sure.
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 its flow through several significant geyser basins in Yellowstone National Park, early trappers named it Firehole River. The Firehole is a magnificent trout stream in its own right. Perhaps one of the most unique experiences to fishing on the Firehole, is the opportunity to cast to wild trout while free roaming bison and elk graze alongside you.
The Buffalo River
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 making it perfect for the beginner or someone looking for any easy place to fish.
Rainbow and brook trout are plentiful. The Box Canyon section, a very popular stretch of the river, begins at the junction of the Buffalo River and the Henry’s Fork.
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 angler who is looking for quiet, tranquil, challenging fishing, where the fish are virtually undisturbed and plentiful.
The Gibbon River
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
The Gardner River (also known as the Gardiner River) is a tributary of the Yellowstone River, and 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.
The small village of Warm River, where Three Rivers Ranch (TRRoutfitters Orvis Endorsed Lodge) is located was named after the river that winds through the area and stays a constant 50 degrees year round. Warm River is spring fed, making it a clear, excellent river to find trout. The river is a tributary to the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and offers fisherman an excellent opportunity to catch good sized trout.
A fish observation platform located in Warm River, gives visitors an up close opportunity to see and feed many large trout. Stone Bridge access located one mile downstream from the observation platform is the launching point for fishermen to begin their float trip of the lower Henry’s Fork.
Robinson Creek represents one of the ‘Three Rivers’ that runs through the Three Rivers Ranch property. This spring fed creek begins in Yellowstone National Park, eventually flowing a stone’s throw away from the guest cabins and past the Three Rivers Ranch Fly Shop. It is a picturesque mountain stream, adorned with swift runs, good cover for fish, large boulders that slow the current and waste-deep plunge pools that harbor hungry trout that always seem to be looking up.
While it’s possible to access the stream with little effort, it’s most productive reaches require some work and a short hike to get to. Angler’s who enjoy wade fishing will revel in Robinson Creek’s beauty and possibilities.
Three Rivers Ranch has a six mile stretch of private access upstream that our guests can take advantage of.