August trip to Montana - Looking for advice on lodging

kahuna

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Given the covid situation and the fact that I am not working the month of August I am planning a road trip from Ohio to Montana. This will be a first trip to MT for me, and while I know there are many great rivers and streams to fish I am hoping to get off the beaten path. I don't plan to hire a guide and prefer to wade fish (rather than float). Given the last minute nature of this trip here's my predicament. It seems impossible to find affordable lodging. I can't pay $300+/night and was hoping to find a self contained rental that would include running water, electric and a small kitchen. I only need accommodations for one person and don't need a fancy lodge with all the amenities. AirBnB units appear to be pretty booked - lodges are too expensive. Other considerations - a location that is convenient to several different rivers or streams so that I can fish different locations (planning to fish 10 - 14 day), close to a few restaurants or grocery stores. I am open to fishing different areas - Gardiner/Yellow Stone, Bozeman, Missoula (though a bit of longer drive) - I welcome any suggestions that can help me figure out lodging for this trip. Thanks in advance for any suggestions -
 

Dude41

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I would call Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone. If you can talk to Bucky, he will steer you in the right direction for your trip. If you are on a limited time frame, I suggest you spend more time on fewer spots. One of the mistakes that first timers make is trying to fish too many places rather than concentrate on a few spots. I prefer to stay in West Yellowstone as a base and hit a few spots. The Madison around Three Dollar Bridge is my favorite spot. If you decide to stay in West Yellowstone, you can fish inside the park early in the morning, go back to the motel to grab lunch and maybe tie flies or take a nap and then head out to the Madison for the evening caddis hatch. If you do hit the Madison in the evening.....stay late. I wish you the best. You can pm me if you want any more info.
 

silver creek

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Here's the deal.

There is no guarantee that Montana will be "open" when you want to go. States have been keeping visitors our by not selling out of state fishing licenses if they decide to close the state to visitors.

So IF you want to go to Montana, one option is to see if you can buy an annual out of state license NOW to guarantee you can fish at a later date should the state be closed. Even then, the governor can issue a 10 day quarantine for visitors.
 

iv_wjb

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Given the covid situation and the fact that I am not working the month of August I am planning a road trip from Ohio to Montana. This will be a first trip to MT for me, and while I know there are many great rivers and streams to fish I am hoping to get off the beaten path. I don't plan to hire a guide and prefer to wade fish (rather than float). Given the last minute nature of this trip here's my predicament. It seems impossible to find affordable lodging. I can't pay $300+/night and was hoping to find a self contained rental that would include running water, electric and a small kitchen. I only need accommodations for one person and don't need a fancy lodge with all the amenities. AirBnB units appear to be pretty booked - lodges are too expensive. Other considerations - a location that is convenient to several different rivers or streams so that I can fish different locations (planning to fish 10 - 14 day), close to a few restaurants or grocery stores. I am open to fishing different areas - Gardiner/Yellow Stone, Bozeman, Missoula (though a bit of longer drive) - I welcome any suggestions that can help me figure out lodging for this trip. Thanks in advance for any suggestions -
Try El Western Cabins in Ennis. Have a great trip!!

 

caddis75

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I would call Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone. If you can talk to Bucky, he will steer you in the right direction for your trip. If you are on a limited time frame, I suggest you spend more time on fewer spots. One of the mistakes that first timers make is trying to fish too many places rather than concentrate on a few spots. I prefer to stay in West Yellowstone as a base and hit a few spots. The Madison around Three Dollar Bridge is my favorite spot. If you decide to stay in West Yellowstone, you can fish inside the park early in the morning, go back to the motel to grab lunch and maybe tie flies or take a nap and then head out to the Madison for the evening caddis hatch. If you do hit the Madison in the evening.....stay late. I wish you the best. You can pm me if you want any more info.
I second all of the above. If you go West Yellowstone is a great base camp and you won't be disappointed.
 

Scootermax

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You might try camp Buffalo Bill near the east entrance of YNP. It is a Boy Scout camp that rents out weekly to fly fishermen & women after the scouts have left for the season. Limit is 30 Anglers/week. They are along the Shoshone River and take van day trips into the park Sleeping cabins with dining hall for breakfast & supper, they pack your lunch $700/for 6 nights. Spartan facilities, bring ur sleeping bag and towels, but a great value. I’m going for the first time Aug 23-29. I talked to others who went last year and got good reports on the fishing and camp.
 

mandotrout

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Not to be all doom and gloom, but another thing to consider is potential hoot owl closures this year. I noticed daily high water temperatures are already pushing 70 degrees some days on one of the Madison River stream gages, and I was wet wading in late afternoon yesterday on a fairly high elevation cutthroat creek and the water was alarmingly warm. I expect fishing to get restricted to the midnight to 2 PM window on a lot of Montana rivers by mid-August unless it cools off or we get some rain or something. Hopefully FWP will be especially vigilant since our rivers are really getting pounded more than usual this year.
 

rmorrison

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Not to be all doom and gloom, but another thing to consider is potential hoot owl closures this year. I noticed daily high water temperatures are already pushing 70 degrees some days on one of the Madison River stream gages, and I was wet wading in late afternoon yesterday on a fairly high elevation cutthroat creek and the water was alarmingly warm. I expect fishing to get restricted to the midnight to 2 PM window on a lot of Montana rivers by mid-August unless it cools off or we get some rain or something. Hopefully FWP will be especially vigilant since our rivers are really getting pounded more than usual this year.
Why is this called a "hoot owl" closure?
 

mandotrout

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Why is this called a "hoot owl" closure?
From Montana FWP:
What is the origin of the phrase “Hoot Owl” restrictions?
The term “Hoot Owl” comes from logging operations in the early 1900s. During the summer months, western forests typically are extremely dry and hot and fire potential is correspondingly also very high. Loggers working in the forests to cut and move trees used a variety of equipment that generated sparks (chain saws, vehicles, metal on metal contact between chains, chokers, and similar). To help prevent fire when conditions were extreme, loggers would stop operations in the afternoon to avoid working in the driest and hottest parts of the day. Morning hours were somewhat safer because of dew and cooler temperatures. Working in these early hours, people would encounter owls that were also active in the morning. Their calls (hooting) lead to reference to the morning work window as the “Hoot Owl.” The term stuck and later came to be associated with human activity conducted only during early hours of the day. At FWP, we use the term “Hoot Owl” to reference drought-related restrictions that allow anglers to fish in the morning (for reasons similar to why loggers would work in the morning incidentally), but not in the afternoon.
 

ibookje

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So true!
Made that mistake too. But maybe one needs to make this mistake to know next time what to do :D

One of the mistakes that first timers make is trying to fish too many places rather than concentrate on a few spots.
 

pfetz

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This place is great. Near Gallatin, close to YS Park, not far from Madison, etc.

  • Canyon Cabins
    Motel
    65 reviews on TripAdvisor
    Is this your business? Verify your listing
  • 101 Ruby Mountain Rd, Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730Cross Streets: Near the intersection of Ruby Mountain Rd and Gallatin Rd
  • (406) 581-0411
  • canyoncabinsmontana.com
 

wthorpe

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The east side of YNP (near West Yellowstone) generally does not fish terribly well in August. The better fishing that time of year in teh park is in the NE Corner, Lamar, Soda Butte, Slough, etc. For Madison outside the park and Gallatin both in and out of the park, i would ck with Blue Ribbon.
 

meales17

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Given the covid situation and the fact that I am not working the month of August I am planning a road trip from Ohio to Montana. This will be a first trip to MT for me, and while I know there are many great rivers and streams to fish I am hoping to get off the beaten path. I don't plan to hire a guide and prefer to wade fish (rather than float). Given the last minute nature of this trip here's my predicament. It seems impossible to find affordable lodging. I can't pay $300+/night and was hoping to find a self contained rental that would include running water, electric and a small kitchen. I only need accommodations for one person and don't need a fancy lodge with all the amenities. AirBnB units appear to be pretty booked - lodges are too expensive. Other considerations - a location that is convenient to several different rivers or streams so that I can fish different locations (planning to fish 10 - 14 day), close to a few restaurants or grocery stores. I am open to fishing different areas - Gardiner/Yellow Stone, Bozeman, Missoula (though a bit of longer drive) - I welcome any suggestions that can help me figure out lodging for this trip. Thanks in advance for any suggestions -
I can feel your angst. I agree with caddis75 advice. I will add check out the Slide Inn. There are some basic cabins on the property (right on the Madison) that are not fancy but affordable. Another place to ck. out is The Drift Campground further up 287 toward Ennis. From this general area you can do the Gallatin, go inside YNP and try to get on the Firehole early in morning while the temp is still cool, go to Gibbon Meadows and walk back in away from road. Take bear spray inside park. Hoppers will be jumping this month, good luck!
 

kahuna

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Thanks to everyone for everyone for your input to this "adventure." The advice provided was really helpful in planning and researching how to make this trip. The trip is well underway and for those whom might be curious after 2.5 days driving (camping in primitive camp grounds along the way) I arrived at the Bighorn River (staying at Cottonwood Cabins - which is great!) where I will fish for 3.5 days before moving on to SW Montana. It took me a awhile to figure out how to fish this tail water, but got started with a 22" rainbow! I immediately learned how powerful these fish are. My trout net which has served me well landing fish up to 18" met it's match! And though I've caught many steelhead in Lake Erie tributaries - these Bighorn fish are powerful and full of energy - wow!! After the rainbow I went on to land 3 of 5 browns - all offering a good battle and several strong runs nearly into the backing line. While I initially thought the Bighorn would not be for me given the amount of volume of anglers fishing this rive - it clearly belongs on a fishing bucket list. The river is huge and there is plenty of water to fish - what an experience! I'm glad that I made a stop here - but it just might ruin eastern trout fishing for me. In a couple days I will head west to fish the Madison and Gallatin for 5 - 6 days before I head back east. I had hoped to stay at Driftwater but could not get a response by email or phone despite several attempts to reach them. I don't think that Slide Inn had cabins with kitchens (a requirement for me so that I can prepare meals and keep food in a fridge), so I will be at the Rainbow Lodge in Ennis. I would have preferred to be closer to Cameron since I expect to fish there a number of days. As I head out of town I might stop around Big Timber/Columbus to fish a few streams in this area before the 2.5 day trip back to Ohio. My trip is off to a great start and I'm looking forward to seeing what each day brings. Thanks again to you all for all of your advice - it has been invaluable to my planning process. Tight lines!
 

ed from bama

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Good morning to all-

Kahuna- Now, let's get this straight... You are in some of the most beautiful fishing territory in the world, catching big rainbows and browns...And I am sitting on my butt in front of the screen. What's wrong with this picture?

Good for you, Brother. Please send us some pictures of your trip and fish so I can be totally whipped down.

Enjoy your run for us all.

Ed
 

mandotrout

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As I guessed in my earlier post, there are now hoot-owl closures on the lower Madison, lower Gallatin, all of the Jefferson, the lower Ruby and the lower Big Hole. More are likely to come, so you might want to keep an eye on it and limit your fishing to the morning before 2 PM. That reach of the Madison near Cameron is still getting pretty close to 70 degrees a lot of days. The Yellowstone around Big Timber is way too warm to be fishing in the afternoons now, but they still haven't closed it for some reason; probably because it's mostly browns down there and they tolerate it a little better.

There is an abundance of smaller, higher elevation streams around the Madison/Gallatin area where the water is cold and the fishing will still be great and probably not nearly as crowded. You can also always go up and do the combat fishing thing on the Madison between Hebgen and Quake too. It stays pretty cold up there. I've also heard the upper Gallatin way up near the Yellowstone Park stretch is crowded but fishing pretty well with hoppers and such.
 

kahuna

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As I guessed in my earlier post, there are now hoot-owl closures on the lower Madison, lower Gallatin, all of the Jefferson, the lower Ruby and the lower Big Hole. More are likely to come, so you might want to keep an eye on it and limit your fishing to the morning before 2 PM. That reach of the Madison near Cameron is still getting pretty close to 70 degrees a lot of days. The Yellowstone around Big Timber is way too warm to be fishing in the afternoons now, but they still haven't closed it for some reason; probably because it's mostly browns down there and they tolerate it a little better.

There is an abundance of smaller, higher elevation streams around the Madison/Gallatin area where the water is cold and the fishing will still be great and probably not nearly as crowded. You can also always go up and do the combat fishing thing on the Madison between Hebgen and Quake too. It stays pretty cold up there. I've also heard the upper Gallatin way up near the Yellowstone Park stretch is crowded but fishing pretty well with hoppers and such.
thanks for the input/advice.

I was thinking about Upper Madison between the lakes and above Hebgen. Not super excited by competition for the productive holes. If Madison is crowded, then I will look for other streams/rivers. Might also explore Boulder, Haylite, Stillwater, and Rock Creek too. If possible, I'd like to avoid 2 - 3 hours drive time each day to get to/from a fishing destination - but I know MT is a huge state and everything seems to be 1 - 2 hours apart. As I make my way back home I was considering spending a few nights around Big Timber to access some of the steams mentioned above.
 
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