As winter wanes, the Gallatin River fishing starts to fish well. Trout start to move from the slow, deep pools of winter to feed with increased insect activity. Despite the still cold water, experienced anglers find success by working streamers, nymphs, and emerger patterns through prime runs between Big Sky and Gallatin Gateway
Hatches are generally sparse this time of year as the river stays very cold in the Gallatin Canyon while water levels in the Gallatin Valley fluctuate with melting snowpack at lower elevations. In April, Blue-Winged Olives and Midges emerge on warm, overcast days. Sporadic Skwala hatches may be encountered between Gallatin Gateway and Headwaters State Park on warmer days.
Early-season Gallatin River fishing requires specialized fly-fishing techniques to entice lethargic trout. Tightline or Euro-Nymphing with tandem, weighted nymphs around boulders, and drop-offs is the most consistent method. Streamers stripped variedly elicit angry strikes from territorial fish. Look for rising fish in slow runs and calm pockets on overcast days when BWO and Midge hatches will be most likely to occur.
Nymphing heavy black stonefly imitations like a tungsten #12 Pat's Rubber Leg and a #10 Purple San Juan worm with fluorocarbon tippet around 4-4.5ft. Drift your flies through areas where fast and slow water meet as trout move into these seams to aggressively feed as their metabolism and water temperatures rise.
Gallatin River fly fishing guide trips are rarely recommended in April by our team of experienced guides. The Madison and Yellowstone rivers are more consistent in April and provide a better Montana fly fishing experience in April.
If water conditions are ideal in the Gallatin Valley, a wade trip is an option to consider for the experienced angler. Anglers should be able to walk a few miles along the rocky river bottom before considering a wade trip on the Gallatin River. Floating the Gallatin River is not a good option this time of the year as river levels fluctuate daily with wide temperature variations between night and day in the surrounding mountains.
Fins and Feathers Guide Service has over two decades of experience outfitting Montana fly fishing trips near Bozeman. Gallatin River fishing day trips can be booked online, via e-mail, or by calling us at 406-468-5019. Reach out to us using our Contact Form to learn more about our Gallatin River fishing trips.