Day Trip – East Gallatin River

east gal 1Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

We have so many great trout destinations within an easy drive from Bozeman, that it is difficult to call any of them “Home Water”.  But if I was to say which river is my favorite, it would have to be the East Gallatin River.  It meanders some 40 miles from its headwater streams through the Gallatin Valley to its confluence with the Gallatin River near Manhattan, Montana (home of a famous Montana Steakhouse—Sir Scott’s Oasis).  More importantly, it shares little character, if any with the slightly larger and more well-known Gallatin.  While the Gallatin for most of its length is a rough and tumble canyon river with lots of challenging whitewater, the East is a low gradient, meandering valley stream fed by numerous spring creeks.  Access to the Gallatin is easy as the highways 85 and 191 parallel the river south to Yellowstone and there’s lots of public land.  The East on the other hand flows almost entirely through private ranch and farm land and there’s very limited public access via a few county roads.  Suitable for floating only with kayaks or canoes in its lower reaches, the wading angler may have many miles of river below the high water mark to negotiate between access points.  It averages about 60CFS during normal years, but has a small, meandering character that make fishing from a watercraft difficult.

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