A student’s guide to fishing in Bozeman

Have an unquenchable urge to go out fishing? My advice: go for it! Fishing here in Montana is as easy as a trip to Walmart or Bob Wards followed by a short drive to one of many nearby fishing locations.

First, you need to think about what sort of fishing interests you. One of the lucky things about Bozeman is you can fish with almost any type of small-rod lure. If you’ve never been fishing before, I would suggest you go for a cheap, simple rod with a spincast reel (the closed reel with a button on the back) with either a bobber or hook and bait — that can be powerbait or worms. You could also try out a spinner and cast and reel.  If you are more advanced or have fished before, you may want try a better reel such as a spinning reel or, for those really into fishing, you should learn to fly fish.

All of these types of fishing rods and reels can be found at Walmart for relatively cheap and, for beginners, often come in packages with some bobbers or other equipment to help you get started.

After finding a suitable rod for yourself, you need to get a license.  Licenses can be obtained at the desk in the outdoor section at Bob Wards, Walmart or at a Fish Wildlife and Parks desk.  They aren’t too expensive so it isn’t a big financial commitment. Along with the license, you should also pick up a regulation book with information on which fish you are allowed to keep wherever choose to fish. Once you have your license and gear, it’s time to drop a hook in!

Around Bozeman there are many great fishing spots for all levels. If you are looking for a place to go, check out these suggestions for ideas.

Hyalite Reservoir

Type of fishing: All types

Type of fish: Trout and Arctic grayling, most likely Westslope cutthroat trout

Level of fishing: Beginner to expert

The Hyalite Reservoir offers an easy fishing experience for anyone trying to learn how to fish, improve skills or just have a fun day fishing. I haven’t fished there too often myself, but when I went with some friends Saturday morning, Sept. 14, we caught two Westslope cutthroat trout in about an hour — one on a fly-rod and one on a bobber and worm.

Gallatin River

Type of fishing: Fly fishing and some spinner fishing

Type of fish: Trout

Level of fishing: Medium to expert

The Gallatin River offers some of the best shore and wade fishing in Montana.  Its waters are closed to float fishing which eliminates much of the competition for fish. Those fly fishing the Gallatin will find it provides a good challenge that will be rewarded by the abundance of fish. The flies to use are tricos (mayflies) in the early morning, stoneflies in the middle of the day and caddis for evening fishing. The Gallatin is one of my personal favorites because it is extremely rewarding for those who are persistent. There are enough fish — almost any hole you can see is bound to have something to catch — but I would still recommend moving along the river often.

Ennis Lake and Madison River

Type of fishing: All types

Type of fish: Trout

Level of fishing: All levels

Ennis Lake has great fishing to offer for anyone desiring to catch fish. Most people use its waters for fly fishing, however it can be used for any sort of trout-fishing techniques. The Madison River, like Ennis Lake, has great trout fishing.  If fishing the river, it is recommended to use a fly fishing setup north of Ennis Lake (where the river enters the lake). Both the lake and the river make great fishing sites, though I have found the lake soaks up a lot of heat from the sun, which makes the fish less likely to be feeding on summer afternoons.