Walking through a crystal-clear lack of water or pebble field to catch little trout in Montana is a dream come true for anglers. Anglers will find dozens of rivers and hundreds of minor streams and creeks in Montana’s Big Sky State. Those best small trout streams in Montana provide you with a peaceful and productive fishing experience.

Small streams provide opportunities for trout of small sizes. Thousands of miles of tiny little trout streams populate Montana’s mountain creeks, meadow streams, and dozens of rivers (Madison, Gallatin, Yellowstone, and others). Almost all western moving water body in Montana holds trout.

Montana Trout Fishing Time

Late March to early November, is generally the fly-fishing time of the year in the smaller stream like mountains creeks, and meadow streams that are affected by the general seasonal roles. But in Montana’s major stream rivers, you can catch fish all year.

Best Trout Fishing Time

The melting snows of the mountains cause a lot of spring run-offs in Montana. This makes some rivers unfishable, while spring creeks are abundant with fish. Late spring, according to the angler, is the ideal time to catch trout in small streams. The water flows are reduced this time, and the water is clear, which is beneficial to fly-fishing.

Best Small trout streams in Montana

Trout of excellent quality may be found in Montana’s rivers, mountain creeks, and meadow streams. Brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout of various sizes can be presented in these streams. Smaller trout can be found in low-flowing streams, although larger ones can be spotted sometimes.

Fishing Montana: Small streams rivers

There are dozens of large rivers in Montana, Madison River, Gallatin River, and Yellowstone River are the most trout fishing sights.

Madison River

Madison River is one of the largest and highest-quality trout streams in Montana. It is almost 183 miles long. Average 3000-5000 trout per mile consider it a wish list river to anglers around the world. Dry fly anglers, nymph anglers, and streamer anglers will all find it pleasant.

Best time for fishing

Many first-time fishermen struggled to figure out how to fish in swift rocky water. From April-May and late September-October is the peak time to fish in Madison.

Fishing spots map of Madison River

In Madison River, locate little trout streams and receive directions to fishing spots.

Gallatin River

The Gallatin River is a brunch of the Missouri River that flows west of town for over 190 kilometers from meandering meadows, to rocky canyon pocket water. You are only allowed to catch five brown and rainbow trout each day, however, you are allowed to capture one above 18 inches. It provides the most accessible river region in the Bozeman area for catching fish all year.

Anglers will find the river attractive due to its high capture rates and abundance of tiny fish. Rainbow trout are typically 8 to 12 inches long, whereas brown trout are 16 to 20 inches long on average. Surprisingly monster trout are not seen there. In the Gallatin River’s system, the Gallatin Valley is the most densely populated trout habitat.

Best time for fishing

The Gallatin River provides excellent access to high-quality fish throughout the year, but the greatest time to fly fish in the Gallatin River is after the spring runoff, which occurs from mid-spring to late summer.

Fishing spots map of Gallatin River

In Gallatin River, locate little trout streams and receive directions to fishing spots.

Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone River is a major tributary of the Missouri River that runs from Wyoming and North Dakota to Montana, around 1114 kilometers in length, from northwestern to southeastern sites respectively. It has almost 200 miles of high-quality brown, cutthroat, and rainbow trout for dry fly fishing, nymphing, and streamer fishing. Cutthroat trout are a pretty common catch in Yellowstone River, as you may discover. The river is particularly essential to different sorts of fishermen because of the large water flows and varying deep water levels in different parts of the river.

The Yellowstone River borders Yellowstone Park on the south and north sides. The Grand and Black Canyons are the premier fishing areas in Yellowstone National Park. Outside of the season, fishing is forbidden in this park, which is available to the public from May to November.

Best time for fishing

The best time to go trout fishing is determined by how clear the water is. March to April will be the greatest time to fish on the Yellowstone River. Generally, by this time, the snowpack has begun to melt, resulting in crystal-clear water run-off.

Fishing spots map of Yellowstone River

In Yellowstone River, locate little trout streams and receive directions to fishing spots.

Fishing Montana: Spring Creeks

A Spring stream is a sort of flowing river with a width ranging from 50 to 100 feet with names derived from its source. The most well-known small stream trout fishing spots near Bozeman in Montana are DePuy’s Spring Creek, Nelson’s Spring Creek, and Armstrong’s Spring Creek, The abundance of food in the form of biomass and the clear water in certain spring streams results in high trout numbers. Many fishermen consider capturing wild trout in spring streams to be tough.

DePuy’s spring creek

DePuy’s spring stream is roughly 2.8 miles long and 30 to 100 feet wide and originates from the Yellowstone River. It’s one of the world’s most famous trout streams. Late June to early July is the most popular fishing season. Wild trout are the most common, and their diet consists of 95 to 96 percent aquatic food, which is ideal for nymph fishing.

Armstrong spring creek

The stream Armstrong spring creek of the Yellowstone River in Livingston, located in the center of Paradise Valley, is similar to DePuy’s spring creek. This creek meadow stream has a width of 50-100 feet and is the best nymphing spot for rainbows, browns, and cutthroat trout. Colorful fish’s average of 12 to 16 inches is the best feature of this fishing spot.

Nelson’s Spring Creek

This is also the source of the Yellowstone River’s brunch, which comes from the Alluvial Fan Aquifer. Brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and cutbows trout are the most common fish in the area, with sizes ranging from 12 to 16 inches and a variety of colors.

Montana trout fishing regulation

You are not permitted to capture as many fish as you like. You should be able to capture a certain number of various varieties of trout.

Find more info: Daily Limits and other Fishing Regulations in Montana

Frequently asked questions

What is the best trout stream in Montana?

Montana is known for its excellent trout streams, and there are many great options to choose from. However, it’s difficult to identify a single “best” trout stream as it can depend on personal preferences and factors such as location, time of year, and weather conditions.

That said, some of the top trout streams in Montana include:

  1. Madison River: This river is considered one of the best trout streams in the United States and is known for its large brown and rainbow trout.
  2. Yellowstone River: This river is one of the longest undammed rivers in the lower 48 states and provides excellent fishing opportunities for native Yellowstone cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout.
  3. Missouri River: This river offers year-round fishing opportunities and is home to a large population of rainbow and brown trout.
  4. Bighorn River: This tailwater river is known for its high numbers of trout, including large brown and rainbow trout.
  5. Gallatin River: This river is a popular destination for fly fishing and is known for its stunning scenery and abundant populations of rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout.

Ultimately, the best trout stream in Montana is a matter of personal opinion and depends on your individual fishing goals and preferences.

What kind of fish are in streams in Montana?

Montana is known for its excellent fishing opportunities, particularly for trout. Here are some of the most common fish species you might find in streams and rivers in Montana:

  1. Rainbow Trout: This is the most common trout species in Montana and is known for its bright colors and acrobatic jumps when hooked.
  2. Brown Trout: This species is native to Europe but has been introduced to many Montana streams and rivers. Brown trout are known for their wariness and can be a challenge to catch.
  3. Cutthroat Trout: There are several subspecies of cutthroat trout in Montana, including the Westslope Cutthroat and Yellowstone Cutthroat. Cutthroat trout are known for their distinctive red markings under their lower jaw.
  4. Brook Trout: This species is native to the eastern United States but has been introduced to many Montana streams and rivers. Brook trout are known for their beautiful colors and willingness to bite.
  5. Mountain Whitefish: This native Montana species is not a trout, but is commonly found in the same streams and rivers. They are bottom feeders and can be caught with nymph or streamer patterns.
  6. Arctic Grayling: This is a native Montana species that is found in a few select streams and rivers. They are known for their large, sail-like dorsal fin.

How many Blue Ribbon trout streams are in Montana?

Montana has a significant number of Blue Ribbon trout streams, which are designated by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks as waters that offer outstanding angling opportunities. These streams are typically characterized by high water quality, good habitat, and abundant populations of trout.

As of 2021, Montana has approximately 44 Blue Ribbon trout streams, which are spread throughout the state. Some of the more well-known Blue Ribbon streams include the Madison River, the Missouri River, the Bighorn River, the Yellowstone River, the Gallatin River, and the Big Hole River.

It’s worth noting that the exact number of Blue Ribbon streams can fluctuate slightly over time as stream conditions change and new waters are designated or removed from the list. However, Montana consistently has a large number of high-quality trout streams, making it a top destination for anglers from around the world.

What river in Montana has the biggest trout?

Montana is known for its large trout, and there are several rivers and streams that offer the potential to catch big fish. However, it’s difficult to identify a single river that consistently produces the biggest trout, as trout size can vary depending on a variety of factors, including location, time of year, and weather conditions.

What is the most common trout in Montana?

The most common trout species in Montana is the Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). This species is found in a wide variety of streams and rivers throughout the state, and is known for its beautiful colors and acrobatic jumps when hooked. Rainbow Trout are not native to Montana, but have been introduced to many waters throughout the state, and are now well-established.

In addition to Rainbow Trout, Montana is also home to several other trout species, including the Brown Trout, Cutthroat Trout, and Brook Trout. Brown Trout were also introduced to Montana from Europe and are now found in many streams and rivers. Cutthroat Trout are native to Montana and the western United States, and there are several subspecies of cutthroat trout found in the state, including the Westslope Cutthroat and Yellowstone Cutthroat. Brook Trout are native to the eastern United States but have been introduced to many Montana waters.

Overall, Montana has a rich diversity of trout species, each with its own unique characteristics and habitats.


There are various rivers, spring creeks, and meadow streams teeming with colorful trout that are suitable for all types of fishing, including dry fly, nymph, and streamer fishers in this place. All year long, you can go fishing. So, grab your fishing gear and get ready to catch some fish in crystal clear water in small trout streams in Montana.

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