The East Fork of the Gallatin River
Length: Begins 19th Street in Bozeman until its confluence with the mainstem.
Favorite Stretch: Springhill Road area.
Seasons: Late June through July.
Fish Species: R, B, YC, W.
Prime Hatches: Caddis in July.
Commonly called “the East Gallatin” this small-sized river is, by Montana standards, an urban stream—houses abound, angry landowners patrol its banks, and access is not easy. However for a river surrounded by people it fish remarkably well and it is within 10 minutes of town. The upper reaches are narrow, willow and brush lined banks, ideal for smaller rods and anglers who value stealth while wade fishing. The middle reaches north of Belgrade have some great cutbanks and deep meadow bends, but most of it is private and requires permission for access. Small to medium sized rainbow dominate most of the catches, but larger browns are present in the deeper holes. The few miles above the confluence of the Gallatin the river is a little more turbid as irrigation runoff dumps back in. From here to the mouth it is mainly a brown trout fishery. Local anglers fish the East Gallatin with religious zeal, however the recent sale of some of the larger ranches in the best sections of the river have made access difficult where it never used to be. With cooperation from both sides anglers and landowners will hopefully find common ground and the fine fishing that is close to Bozeman can continue to be enjoyed by all.
Ben Hart and Thompson Spring Creek
Length: A few miles on private property near Belgrade.
Favorite Stretch: Water on the Milesnick Ranch.
Seasons: Late-May through November.
Fish Species: R, B, W.
Prime Hatches: Pale Morning Duns in June.
Three miles of Ben Hart spring creek and one mile of Thompson spring creek runs through the Milesnick Ranch. Tom and Mary Kay own the ranch and book the rods on these very challenging spring creeks. These creeks are only accessible by paying a rod fee and angler must check-in with them before fishing. They also have access to nearly five miles of the East Gallatin River. They are third generation Montanans are generous hosts. The creeks are similar in appearance and fishing—meandering meadow streams with deep holes at each bend. There are several 20-plus inch fish in both creeks, but they are not easy to hook. For discerning anglers wanting a serious challenging either of these two creeks are sure to fulfill your desires. And having the consistency of the East Gallatin on the property makes for a nice respite from the challenge of the spring creek trout.