Know before you go.
Were we to live in an unfallen cosmos, fishing would entail little more than hopping in the car, driving to the nearest waterway, and slaying trout all day long. But alas, ours is far from a perfect world, and we must toil by the sweat of our brows for tight lines. Spotty smartphone directions, accidental trespassings, indignant landowners, misidentified fish, and awkward explanations can be happily avoided with a little planning, however. Here are some resources to check out before wading into the morass.
Montana Fishing Access App
If you’ve ever tried to navigate the labyrinthine Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ website (treasure trove though it may be), you know how daunting it is to find answers to some of the simplest questions. We recommend the Montana Fishing Access app, a one-stop resource for maps, regulations, put-ins, take-outs, and up-to-date USGS streamflow data. Best of all, most of its features work offline.
DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer
Unless you’re sure that you’ll never drop your device in the drink, it’s a good idea to bring along some good ol’ analog know-how. With recreational info and land-ownership designations, this is the outdoor resource to have when you’re out of juice—or when you just want a larger, bird’s-eye viewing surface. What are you doing with your phone on the river anyhow? This is fishing.
Montana River Maps & Fishing Guide
Ray Rychnovsky’s guide is much more than fishing-access locations and campsites. It has a colorful display of common flies and lures, instructional casting illustrations, and tips for reading water.
Montana’s stream-access law confers considerable rights to enter any of the state’s navigable waterways. But sometimes the access is ambiguous—which is where OnX comes in. Clear, unequivocal property lines are laid out for you, ensuring that you’ll have peace of mind at the very least.
Fishing regulations are always changing. Stay up to date with the latest rules by studying the regs for the stretch of water you’re fishing. Seasons, daily limits, and equipment restrictions change from river to river, so do your homework—no excuses. Yellowstone has its own rules, so find a copy of Park regs, too.
We’ve consulted the experts and compiled the best local knowledge to make the guide you’re holding. Sure, you can’t extract everything from cagey fishing gurus, but this guide is the next best thing. Keep a copy in your glovebox at all times.