Simply put, this adventure in the Yellowstone River Basin is classically Montana.

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Experience fly fishing, the way it should be!

This trip lies in the Yellowstone River Basin, just beyond Montana’s prairie lands, 1 mile away from the NE entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Fish to your heart’s content, smack dab in the middle of one of the world’s greatest and most sought-after trout fisheries. Fish the legendary Yellowstone River or one of its joined river systems: the Bighorn River, Stillwater River, Boulder River, the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, as well as smaller rivers, and private access waters.

Don’t like to fish? No problem! We’ve got you covered with options for everyone: Go horseback riding, visit the day spa, and hang out at the barn where you’ll find a bar, pool tables, foosball, horseshoes, and more. Go for a sight-seeing tour to the Beartooth Wilderness, dubbed one of the “most beautiful drives in the lower 48”, offroad with ATV/UTV riding tours, take the golf cart around the property, and take some fly casting lessons (available each evening). The Ranch can even arrange live music or a DJ for groups of 6 or more. Other activities include: whitewater rafting, shooting sports, golfing at Red Lodge, mountain biking, canoeing, hiking, and more. There’s something for everyone and you can truly build your own customizable itinerary!

Much of the surrounding ranches are private access; This trip offers you the unique opportunity to fish on private lakes and ponds, as well as multiple river systems, and Yellowstone National Park.

This is luxury camping, at its finest!

Family owned and operated since the 1940s,“The Ranch” is a multi-generational lodge, with a wealth of land, multiple cabins to choose from (with various rooms and ensuite baths), 5,000 square foot log building (made out of old growth, white spruce logs), featuring a cathedral ceiling in the Great Room, a large guest/game/tv room, 2 large river rock fireplaces, with numerous decks and outdoor patios to enjoy the beautiful mountain range backdrops; This is the perfect base camp for the Yellowstone River Basin. No matter where you stay, each lodging option features luxury accommodations, guaranteeing a breathtaking place to wake up to and comfortable sleeping arrangements.

The “Ranch” was built originally for large wedding venues, making it a great choice for hosting large groups and company retreats. The property also features an old, historic, high-cage truss river bridge that was initially built in 1907, 5 miles north of The Ranch. The bridge was salvaged from town and installed on The Ranch, over the East Rosebud River. History runs through these tracks, with over a century of traffic via horse-drawn wagons and cattle drives to modern-day ranch traffic semi-loads. Come see the lit-up bridge at night… it’s a spectacular sight!

Each day offers a new, hearty meal that’s good for the body and soul! Enjoy breakfast each morning at the Red Lodge, lunch on the riverside, and gourmet, 4-course meals in the evening. Each dinner is prepared by the lodge’s private chef and is served with fine wine pairings or an open well bar. See the menu here.

Other features of the property include the Fly Shop, The Barn (rec room, bar, tasting room), 1.5 miles of East Rosebud River frontage all to yourself, private trout ponds, outdoor firepit nooks on groomed acreage in a quaking aspen and cottonwood treed river bottom, overlooking the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Mountain Range (the highest mountain range in Montana).

The property has 3 different locations for your room choice, all with various features; Stay in the “Red Lodge”, where you will have your choice of the “Rainbow Trout Suite” (1 King Bed), “Whitetail Suite” (2 Queen Beds), “Rosebud River Suite” (2 Queen Beds), or the “Sandhill Crane Suite” (2 Queen Beds). Each room includes a private ensuite bath. Other locations to choose from are the glamping, safari-style suites on the river (each with private baths), or the High Country Cabin, on the outskirts of the property (with 3 rooms and a shared bath).

Fishing the Yellowstone River Basin is an ideal experience for the novice to the expert angler! With each river having its own nuances, there’s a place to fish, no matter the time of year! All trips include a private guide and each guide has their own special story and are some of the most experienced fly fishing outfitters and guides in the entire state; Rest assured, you’ll be in great hands here! All guides are extremely well-trained to the local river basin. Fish with fellow world travelers, founding members of the Fly Fishing Film tours, Animal Planet tv show hosts, skilled fly casters and wing shooting instructors, fly tiers and rod builders, Casting for Recovery volunteers, and guides that are well-educated that just know how to simply have fun! 

Upon arrival at the Ranch, you (and your group) will have the opportunity to get casting lessons, before heading to the water. Depending on the month, you’ll have multiple river systems to choose from each day.

Choose From Multiple Waters in The Yellowstone River Basin

Also known as “The Stone”, the Yellowstone is the longest free-flowing river in the United States. It’s an internationally known premier trout fishery. With a wide variety of habitats, this river is home to some of the meanest trout in the state of Montana. Expect to catch large browns, cutthroats, and rainbow trout up to 20” long. It’s an excellent river for dry fishing and sub-surface fishing with nymphs and streamers.

The float trips offered at The Ranch focus on finding that perfect balance of floating pressure with strong fish numbers. The staff’s in-depth knowledge of the time of year, water conditions, and active insect hatches allow you to fish this sought-after bucket list destination nearly all season long. This is a fairly easy river to wade since the bottom consists of mostly sand and gravel.

The best times to fish The Stone are pre-runoff (March-April) and post-runoff (July-November) months. During spring, the surrounding mountain’s snowmelt leaves this river high, muddy, and difficult to fish in some areas, so if you book a trip between May and July, you may or may not be able to fish The Stone, but you will have access to many other rivers in this river basin!

Hatch Info

Early Spring (Pre-Runoff)

  • Baetis Mayflies (size #16 to 14) hatch on The Stone from late March to Mid-April
  • March Browns can literally blanket the water during the month of April

Summer (Post-Runoff)

  • Salmonflies, Golden Stones, Green Drakes, PMDs, Caddis, and Yellow sallies
  • Large, light-colored streamers such as Bunny Fur, Zonkers, or Wooly Buggers can provide great action
  • Also try Black, Brown, or Olive Wooly Buggers

Late Summer

  • Grasshoppers, ants, beetles, and the Giant Western Golden Stones

Fall

  • Drakes, Baetis, and Midges

Also known as “The Horn”, the Bighorn River is another one of America’s best-known trout fisheries that have brought anglers from around the world since 1981 when it was opened to public recreation.

Fun fact: More fish are packed into each mile of the Horn, than any other river in the state! With about 1,500 fish per square mile, it’s not unusual to see hundreds of fish in the crystal clear waters swimming below. A large amount of the fish in this river are in the 20” and above range. This stretch of water produces some great numbers for browns and rainbows, and is a brown trout-dominated river.

The best times to fish the Bighorn are early spring, late fall, and winter. The wading level is considered easy and the fish species are primarily: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and near the damn Catfish, Whitefish, and Bass. The Horn is located along high plains and arid terrain, which is great for avoiding hooking those trees and branches we’re all so inclined to snagging on (we know you’ve done it at least a few times).

The water is rarely off-color and never freezes immediately below the dam, due to the constant release of relatively warm water; This provides excellent fishing opportunities, even during the coldest Montana winter days. This river is not affected by spring runoff, because of the constant release of water from the Yellowtail Reservoir.

The busiest time of year is between July-September for raft and shore anglers; During this busy time, it’s just as much a “technical” experience, as it is a “social” experience. Arguably the best time on this river is March, since the trout are awake and hungry, and there aren’t many people out.

The fish catch on in this river and quickly become accustomed to seeing patterns, so The Ranch keeps up with the new “hot” patterns before the fish grow tired of them. All gear is included, but if you would like to bring your own flies, let us know so we can help you pick out that “hot” bite!

The wading level is considered medium; A lot of the river bottom is silt and sand (easy), but there are some boulders and cobble sections, along with some areas that have strong and deep currents.

Hatch Info

Early Spring

  • Baetis and midge hatches will get the season started in March
  • Most famous fishing is the dry fly action beginning with the baetis in early april

Summer

  • Little Black Caddis and Trico Hatches, along with terrestrials of many varieties 

Fall

  • Strip Streamers
  • Pale morning duns, little black caddis, and tricos, and baetis
  • Flies are typically size 18-22, especially the dry flies 
  • This calls for 5x to 6x tippets and long fine leaders
  • Nymphs are the day in, day out staple of the river with sow bugs, shrimp, ray charles, and pheasant tails being the standards

The most productive technique when fishing The Horn is nymphing patterns of Sowbugs and Scuds (which trout eat a lot of on the Horn), but dryfly and streamer fishing works too, especially in August, with the summertime hopper fest.

The Stillwater River cuts through granite rocks in the gorgeous Beartooth Mountain Range. Lying where famous movies such as “A River Runs Through It” and “The Horse Whisperer” were filmed, this beautiful flowing water is a relatively unknown fishery. With about 3,000 fish per square mile and fish averaging 10-16” (and up to 22”), you can bet you’ll have a great time here!

The best time to fish the Stillwater is Spring (March-April). During Spring, fish are about 14-16”, because of the influx of large spring spawners from the Yellowstone River. During summer, fish are slightly smaller and 12-13” is typical.

Common species include: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroats, and Brook Trout. The wading level is considered easy-medium, depending on whether you’re fishing upstream or downstream.

Contrary to the name, the Stillwater is not still; It has whitewater, drops, rocks, and a pretty swift current, depending on the flow rate, making it a fun place for rafting, as well as wading!

The fishing season kicks off on this river in early spring, via wading. It’s at this time that good Mayfly hatches start (early March through Mid-May). Whereas, raft fishing starts in early July.

This is definitely a dry fly fishing river and is dubbed some of the best dry fly fishing in Montana! The upper Stillwater is dominated by brown trout, whereas the lower river is 70% rainbow trout (on average) and 30% other fish species.

Hatch Info

Early Spring – Mid-May

  • Mayfly

Spring

  • March Browns and Baetis 

Summer

  • PMDs, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, and Caddis  
  • Grasshoppers, Beetles, and Ants

Streamers – or minor imitations – are available to use year-round; It’s recommended to try these if nothing else or a “big-bushy white-winged dry fly” during summer. During spring, summer, or fall, try a #14 bead head impressionistic nymph near the bottom if there’s no surface activity.

The Boulder River is a hidden, fly fishing gem in the upper Yellowstone drainage area. It’s small, fast, and hard to beat! Another famous river, where many notable films have been shot, with more gorgeous scenery. Running through ranch country with lots of hay fields, this is a prime river for various hatches throughout the year, and a prime hopper fishing water from late July-August.

The Ranch will float you on this river, depending on water levels. The trip starts below the natural bridge state monument, which is an excellent producing stretch for dry fly and streamer fishermen alike. Large streamers are used in many deep holes and along the undercut banks, which is a wonderful way to catch the large brown trout that live in this river system.

If you’re a dry fly angler, you’ll be happy to know that the Boulder River has excellent Caddis Fly hatches through the summer; Using a large hopper, you’ll float it right along the banks, picking up brown trout and rainbows as you drift by!

Hatch Info

Summer

  • Hoppers, Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, Caddis
  • Golden Stones, Mayfly, PMDs, 
  • Hoppers and Beetles 

The summer has low fishing pressure and the lodge tends to use standard dry flies, such as the Parachute Adams and Elk Hair Caddis.

This is an excellent Montana fly fishing experience!

Located just to the North of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness area, in the beautiful prairie lands, you’ll have exclusive and private access to 1.5 pristine miles of East Rosebud River, directly on the Ranch during your trip, called “the Buds”. The local landowners take their privacy rights on these stretches of water very seriously, so this is a special and unique highlight of the Yellowstone River Basin package: Aside from the 1.5-mile stretch you can fish directly from the property, you’ll also float private access waters from The Ranch to the Stillwater River.

This area was burned in the Shepard Mountain Fire in 1996; Because of the fire, the river has experienced increased sunlight, removal of the tree lining along the river, and warmer waters, leading to an increase in bug biomass and larger fish for you to catch! The average fish size has increased 3” since the fire! Species include: Pure Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, and Mountain Whitefish. The wading level is considered easy to medium, depending on location and due to large rocks and algae growth in the summer.

If you’re an angler looking for a scenic place to fish, the forks of the Rosebud River are hard to beat! These are great stretches of water for both brown and rainbow fishing, have loads of pocket water fishing opportunities, and on a calm day you can spot 14-18” browns cruising the shallows, picking off nymphs. The average fish size is generally between 10-14”, with the occasional 18-20” lunker.

Hatch Info

  • During the prairie sections, streamers, hopper imitations, and standard dry flies all work pretty well
  • Lighter tackle in general and tippets work best

Rock Creek is a blue-ribbon trout stream and a favorite for walking/wading. Beginning in the high mountains of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness, this river flows 55 miles through Red Lodge to the confluence of the Clark of the Yellowstone River. Enjoy beautiful rolling, prairie lands, thick cottonwood trees that brush line the banks, and crystal clear water in this cool, high alpine stream, while you wade for cutthroats, rainbow, and brook Trout. 

The Cutthroat and Brook trout here are not picky; you’ll catch something on virtually any dry fly with a halfway decent presentation. They’re small but feisty and just plain fun to catch! However, you will need to have a fairly well-presented dry fly imitation, if you want the rainbows to start biting. Average sizes for Rainbow Trout are between 10-13”. Brook Trout are the majority of fish found in this stream, averaging 8-10”. 

The best time to fish this creek is July through September, where daily catches of 20-40 are all too common; Because of the high elevation, Rock Creek doesn’t fish that great in spring or late fall; the fish are simply too cold and inactive. But, there’s plenty of other rivers, ponds, and streams in the area to fish during spring and fall. 

At the Red Lodge, there’s a large amount of cottonwood that finds their way into the creek, due to windstorms, animals, and old age. This results in a stream with a lot of pools, created by logjams, where many browns, rainbows, and brooks like to hide out in. 

The fly hatch seasons are extremely similar to the Stillwater River (see above), with a slight delay in the hatches, because of the higher elevation. 

This river is difficult to wade, due to cold water, slick rocks, and algae growth, but it is the only option to fish here. Casting distance is relatively short on this stream, because of the adjacent brush and small-ish nature of the stream; You’ll favor short-casting and stealth-stalking tactics more. 

All in all, this is a pretty isolated creek, where you’ll enjoy getting away from everyone and experiencing what fly fishing is really all about. With fishing, it’s not always about the size or numbers, it’s about the quality of experience, and this is a quality place for a quality experience!

During your time at the Red Lodge, you’ll have opportunities to fish in many different rivers in this river basin. When you’re visiting in the dog days of summer, and the temperatures are high, you’ll be thankful to be surrounded by the beauty of this wilderness forest, and the high elevation and cooler temperatures that lie at Rock Creek. 

Hatch Info

Spring

  • March Brown’s and Baetis
  • Wade fishing is your only option in spring
  • Post runoff: PMDs, Golden Stones, Yellow sallies, and Caddis

Summer

  • Hopper imitations
  • Grasshoppers, beetles, ants

Fall

  • Streamers

Locally known as “The Clark Fork”, this river is immediately adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. With slightly lower trout populations averaging 400-1,000 fish per mile, what it lacks in trout numbers, it more than makes up for in character, opportunity, and fish size! 

The best time to fish the Clark Fork is Winter, Spring, and Fall. Summer brings muddy waters, and a lack of clarity, with the high heat and desert landscape. The wading on the Clark Fork is classified as easy and species to be found include Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat, and Mountain Whitefish. 

Hatch Info

  • Focus on wet flies of either the nymph (sizes #12-18) or go big and chuck large, nasty streamers with lots of action and lots of lead (try Bunny Fur, Wooly Buggers, or Yuck Bugs). 
  • Try dry flies on the Montana section of the Clark Fork during winter. 
  • The fish here aren’t too smart and any reasonable midge imitation will work, provided the fish are actively engaged in feeding on these little flies.
  • Try Midge dries or wets in sizes #14-18.

If you want an easy place to hone your fly fishing skills, these private waters on the lodge are a great place to start your vacation! The lodge features private ponds and small lakes that are stocked with various trout species. Fishing is usually done by drift boat and the guides are happy to give you the inside scoop on lake fishing techniques! 

There are also 3 private spring creeks about an hour and a half away in Paradise Valley (where tv show Yellowstone is filmed) that you’ll have access to. It can be challenging to fish these waters, but the guides know them well and can help you learn the ropes! These are wildly popular among guests and are usually fully booked during the summer months.  Be sure to ask us about private ranch ponds and spring creeks when you book! 

The trip of a lifetime! 

Fly fishing in Yellowstone National Park is an experience you have to try at least once! You won’t want to miss the spectacular wildlife and scenery of America’s first national park, while you cast big dries to the eager native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. Walk or wade in the upper Lamar River, Slough Creek, and Soda Butte Creek, in the Northeastern corner of the park.

Home to some of the best cutthroat trout fisheries in the country, you’ll get your fill of nature and fishing on this peaceful trip. Take a scenic drive over Beartooth Pass and into Yellowstone National Park, where you’ll fly fish amongst herds of wild bison, making memories with dry, nymph, and streamer fishing.

As the lodge’s motto goes, “Variety Is The Spice Of Life” and so to are your accommodations! Tying in with this trip, consider staying at the High Country Cabin (your choice of the 3 lodging options), which is the lodging base for the Ranch’s NE Yellowstone Park guided trips. Built on the banks of Soda Butte Creek, high up in the Beartooth mountains, on the edge of the park, The Ranch’s High Country Cabin has direct access to Yellowstone’s world-class trout fisheries.

SODA BUTTE CREEK

Visit Soda Butte Creek, a tributary to the Lamar River, located 12 miles Northwest of Slough Creek. This is an overlooked small stream, that produces fantastic fly fishing all summer long! It has the most majestic backdrops in the area and is dominated by the peaks of the Beartooth Mountain Range, winding and braiding its way through the meadows. Experience true solitude at Soda Butte by covering pools, riffles, pocket water, and runs with no one else in sight!

For being a smaller creek, you’ll be surprised how good the fishing is here! Large native Yellowstone Cutthroat dominate the best-looking trout water and there’s good hatch activity all summer long. Cutthroat averages up to 13”, with lunkers up to 20”!

LAMAR RIVER

The Lamar River is the major tributary to the Yellowstone River; There’s fantastic fly fishing for native Yellowstone Cutthroats here and is arguably one of the best places in the park to view wildlife, ranging from wolves and bears to elk and buffalo.

Picture yourself amongst stunning scenery, with towering mountains, canyons, and fertile wildlife in the rich meadows of the Lamar Valley. This is an area for adventure-seekers!

Hike along the river and hop from boulder to boulder over rocks the size of cars, in secluded waters that rarely see any other anglers, in rugged fishing locations, where rainbows are intermixed with the native Yellowstone cutthroats. Lay a cast into a small, secluded piece of quiet water, tucked amongst this raging river. Be prepared for fast action!

You’ll want to bring your bear spray here; this is Yellowstone backcountry, at its finest!

SLOUGH CREEK

In the heart of the World-Class Lamar Valley trout streams, lies Slough Creek, the major tributary to the Lamar River. It’s mostly a meadow stream and is famous for its large cutthroat in crystal clear waters. Most of this river requires some long hikes to reach the upper meadow, but during your trip, you’ll focus on the lower sage-covered meadows that are easily reached and still offer fantastic fishing.

Because the water is so clear, you’ll have a high likelihood of sight fishing, that is, being able to watch the whole process of your catch: from inspection to take.

Hatch Info

  • Long slow glides and runs are the hallmark of this water and good hatches keep the fish pinned toward the surface.
  • Like Rock Creek (see above), you’ll favor a more stealthy approach rather than long casts here.

What time of year should you go?

March – April: Many of the rivers that are available on this adventure offer prime fishing in the early spring, prior to the spring runoff that begins late April and May. Enjoy the reliable hatches during this time of year!

July – August: The summers months here are phenomenal for dry fly fishing on multiple rivers! You can look forward to fishing with hoppers and parachute adams to your heart’s content.

September – October: Fall is best time of year to be in Montana. The cooler temps and fewer anglers on the water can create some prime conditions. Top water and streamer fishing!

This is an easy location to travel to! Simply book a flight to Billings, get picked up by the Ranch’s shuttle driver, ride an hour-long shuttle drive to The Ranch, and start adventuring.

We recommend flying into Billings, MT, if you can, since the shuttle round trip is included, and it’s the more common airport. But, there are options to get picked up in Cody, WY, or Bozeman, MT (for an extra fee and a slightly longer shuttle drive). However you fly, we also recommend purchasing travel insurance.

Looking for flight options?
Delta, United, and American airlines have daily flights to/from Billings.

Montana is known for varying temperatures and high winds, depending on the season. We recommend you come prepared! Layers are the key to being comfortable throughout the day. 

Everything you need for a day of fishing, including rod, reel, boots, waders, flies, and end tackle, is included in your package. If you would like to bring your own gear, we recommend:

  • Fly rods (primary rod 9’ 5 or 6 wt – medium/fast action)
  • Secondary rod options (9’ 4 wt – good for smaller tributaries)
  • Reels and fly lines (appropriate weight to match rods – floating)
  • Orvis breathable waders
  • Felt or rubber-soled wading boots. (Felt boots are not allowed in Yellowstone National Park, but may be a good idea for certain stretches of other rivers.)
  • Rain jacket
  • Gloves (early/late season)
  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Puffy down vest or jacket
  • Quick dry shorts/long pants
  • Warm, long pants to be worn under waders
  • Dry bag for carrying personal items
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera
  • Boots for hiking
  • Warm jacket for the cool mornings/evenings
  • Hat
  • Polarized sunglasses

TRIP INCLUDES

  • 2 – 6 full days of fishing along various rivers
  • Your choice of comfortable cabin: a room at the Red Lodge, a glamping safari-style luxury cabin, or a room at the High-Country Cabin
  • Transit to and from Billings (BIL) airport
  • All Meals – breakfast, a hearty riverside lunch, and hosted gourmet 4-course dinners
  • Beverages – including an open well bar and fine wines paired with dinner
  • Golf cart for exploring the property
  • Fly casting lessons
  • Full-day guided float or walk/wading fishing adventures
  • Orvis & Simms loaner gear (everything you need – the rods, reels, waders, boots) + flies and all end tackle equipment
  • Non-angling adventures

DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • Fly shop purchases
  • Staff & guide gratuities (10% of the package price is suggested to the staff, plus $120 per day per guide per person) 
  • Fishing licenses – Purchase your license on the Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks website
  • 8% Montana State Lodging Sales Tax
  • Airport transfers to/from Bozeman or Cody, WY (these airport shuttles are an extra $200)

2023 Season

3 Night / 2 Day | $2,700 / person

4 Night / 3 Day | $3,600 / person

5 Night / 4 Day | $4,500 / person

6 Night / 5 Day | $5,400 / person

7 Night / 6 Day | $6,300 / person

Looking for alternate activities?

If you’re not an angler, but don’t want to miss out, the rates for you are $595 per night, *when you’re accompanied by someone that will be fishing*. The $595 rate includes sharing a standard lodge room, a safari-style tent (glamping cabin), or the high country cabin (with your angling partner), all meals, all beverages, and most pre-arranged ranch activities, and more.

ADVENTURE AWAITS

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