Voice of the River

Fishing Responsibly: How to Fish for the Good of the Gallatin

If you know nothing else about the Gallatin River, you at least know that it is world-renowned for its blue-ribbon trout fishing. On a nice summer day you’ll see dozens of cars pulled into the easy access points along Highway 191, fly shops from West Yellowstone to Bozeman bustling with business, and tourists traveling hundreds of miles to fish and experience the scenes from the beloved and famed A River Runs Through It with their own eyes. It’s a popular activity and for good reason, who doesn’t love the feeling of being out on the water, one with the river? Remember the rush of excitement you felt the first time you figured out your cast, reeled one in? Fishing is a resource that we are striving to protect, not just because we want to keep the fish happy and healthy – but because we understand the importance and value of the sport. 

One thing the Gallatin River Task Force is striving to achieve is the balanced relationship between recreation and the Gallatin. There are countless ways to enjoy all of our favorite activities while keeping the health and safety of this great resource and the fish we’re seeking out in mind. 

  • First, it’s important to understand the regulations of the area. Every pond, river, and lake is going to be a little different. Have your fishing license ready, understand harvest limits, and know when Hoot Owl restrictions are in effect. Montana FWP is a great one-stop-shop for all this information. 
  • Keep the fish in water. Yes, we all love a good fish pic – it makes a great Instagram post or addition to your dating profile, but not every fish you catch needs a photoshoot. If you can, don’t take them out of the water at all. And if you do, keep it close to the water and make the photo quick. While not deadly, just a few minutes out of the water can add a lot of unnecessary stress on the fish. Especially in those hot summer months, when fish are already uncomfortable in the warmer water temperature, it’s important to catch, admire, and leave in the water. 
  • In the same line of thought, think of the time of day. Even when Hoot Owl restrictions are not in effect, consider going out early in the morning or later in the evening when water temperatures are lower, saving the fish from undo stress.
  • Barbless hooks. When possible, use barbless hooks. This makes it easier to release the fish from the hook and fly  – causing less harm and reducing the amount of time spent handling the fish. 
  • Clean, Drain, Dry your gear after every outing on the river to help reduce the spread of invasive species that are harmful to the fish, insects, and plants that live in the Gallatin River.

Don’t forget to register for one of our fly-fishing clinics this summer! In partnership with Gallatin River Guides we’re making it easy and more accessible for people of all ages and abilities to get out on the river. All events are capped at 10 participants, so register now to reserve your spot! More information in the links provided:

Runoff Fly-Fishing, June 7 from 1:00 – 5:00pm
Fly-Fishing 101, July 5 from 1:00 – 5:00pm 

Youth Fly-Fishing Clinics:
July 21 from 9:00am – 4:00pm
July 28 from 9:00 am – 4:00pm 

Here’s to a great summer of fishing responsibly on the Gallatin!

If you have any questions or need more resources, you can visit our website, or call 406-993-2519.
And remember,
every drop counts ????

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