Not only is it the centerpiece of 1992 film, A River Runs Through It starring a young Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer, the Gallatin River is also home to what many seasoned fly fishermen easily pronounce as seriously world class fishing. 320 Guest Ranch, unlike neighboring ranches nearby, sits right on the Gallatin River. A night’s stay in one of the Ranch’s Riverfront Cabins will provide not only one of the most peaceful night’s sleeps you may ever experience, but also allows our fly fishing guests to realize the three reasons why the Gallatin River is touted as being one of the world’s very best…
- Extremely Easy to Access
U.S. Highway 191 runs right along the Gallatin River through a scenic canyon which most area locals simply refer to as “The Canyon”. Along this beautiful and winding stretch of road, there are many pull-outs where anglers can park and easily walk right down to the river. This nearly 45 mile long portion of the river offers the majority of best access sites. Though there are parts of the river along this stretch where the water runs much too fast for fly fishing in, there are an equal if not greater number of segments that are much calmer. Once the Gallatin leaves The Canyon, the river runs predominately through private lands just south of Bozeman, MT. Though there are a few access sites here and there along that tract, it’s more advisable to stick with the pull-outs along The Canyon, and especially the South Canyon which is right where the 320 Ranch is located.
- No Float Fishing is Allowed
This regulation is a real dream come true for wade anglers who get aggravated by having to divvy up their day on the river between themselves and hordes of rafts and drift boats. On the Gallatin River, however, a fly fishman need not ever despair over such frustrations experienced on other rivers. The reason for this prohibition of float fishing is due to the fact that the Gallatin River is a fairly small river for the majority of its length. The only location where the Gallatin is open to float fishing is in that hard to access northernmost part of it, just before it meets the Missouri River. The easier to access middle and southern sections are fortunately all float-fishing free.
- Unbeatable Dry Fly Fishing (for the Pros AND the Newbies)
Due to the fact that the Gallatin River doesn’t see as many fishermen as others do – otherwise referred to as a river with “low fishing pressure” – the trout are more aggressive than a river that sees “high fishing pressure”, and they’re not picky eaters either. These qualities make for unsurpassable dry fly fishing. They also make the Gallatin a great river to learn on for new anglers. 320 Guest Ranch is a great place to begin a new fly fishing hobby. Through partnership with local outfitters, guests of the Ranch who are new to fly fishing can get set up to learn all the tricks of the trade that are involved in catching the Gallatin’s infamous and exceptional Rainbow, Brown, Grayling, and Cutthroat trout. Though not known for monster-sized fish, the Gallatin River boasts a higher volume of fish which is a worthwhile counterbalance to their smaller size.
Altogether, whether seasoned or green, the Gallatin River is a priority Bucket List item for any and all life-long and novice anglers. Matchless in both beauty and bounty, the Gallatin River can seem more to a fly fisherman like a photograph seen once in a magazine, and less like reality. But even if that were the truth, isn’t an escape from reality something we all need a little bit of sometimes? To quote, applicably, the character of Norman Maclean from A River Runs Through It, “Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.” So, don’t wait…the Gallatin River awaits.
Written by Lauren Peyton