Hyalite Reservoir is located about 20 miles south of Bozeman in the Custer Gallatin National Forest. The East and West forks of Hyalite Creek feed in from the reservoir’s south and are open to fishing from July 15 – November 30. Hyalite Creek, below the reservoir, is open to fishing year-round, and the stretch of the creek that people generally refer to when they mention fishing Hyalite Creek. This small stream offers easy access to roughly 12 miles of wadeable, wild trout water and is great place to do some fly fishing close to town.
The top few miles of Hyalite Creek, just downstream of Hyalite Reservoir, is characterized by swift pocket water flowing through a mixed conifer forest. Although access to the stream is readily available, anglers should expect limited casting lanes and short runs of holding water. The upper creek ends just below Langohr Campground in a small series meanders before dumping into a narrow gorge that follows Hyalite Road to the mouth of what is commonly referred to a Hyalite Canyon.
The water around Langohr Campground is some of the best on the creek and is worth a look early and late in the year when visitation is light. There are several handicap-accessible points to the creek here as well. Strategically placed trees are used to create additional holding waters in this area of the creek in addition to the natural bank and river structure.
After leaving the upper meadow around Langohr Campground, the current picks up, and the creek’s width decreases noticeably. Magnificent pocket water follows the road for several miles as the creek works its way down toward the Gallatin Valley. Although the creek is very accessible here, the road is typically busy in the summertime and caution is advised. Post runoff, summer mornings can offer exceptional fly fishing opportunities in the middle portions of Hyalite Creek.
The lower Hyalite Creek is generally considered to be the stretch of creek just upstream of the USFS boundary downstream to 19th Avenue. The USFS stretch is easily accessed wan the water here has a few slow meanders and deeper pools. Typically accessible year-round, these lower stretches can fish well in the spring, fall, and even winter months. Low summer flows and high angling/recreational pressure makes these lower stretches less desirable in July-September.
Hyalite Creek is a stunning, small mountain stream that is easily accessed within minutes of Bozeman. The small stream fly fishing opportunities here are what many folks heading out west for the first time intuitively expect to be around every corner. However, the reality is that these little gems typically are hard to find and even harder to effectively fly fish. Steep gradients create fast currents with limited holding water. Streamside vegetation is thick, creating challenging fly-casting conditions for even the most skilled angler.
The creek runs cold throughout the year so don’t expect to find many large fish in the creek as the growing season just isn’t long enough to develop trophy trout. However, there are good numbers of wild fish in the 6-10” range including Cutthroat, Rainbow, and Brown Trout. The occasional 12-16” trout can be found in deeper pools that offer undercut banks and mid-current structure.
Insects are abundant and follow a hatch cycle that is similar to the Gallatin River in the Gallatin Canyon. Expect Mayflies, Caddis and Stoneflies to be the most common aquatic invertebrates found in good numbers in all but the coldest and warmest months of the year. The Spruce Moth hatch can also make for some memorable late July mornings on Hyalite Creek.
Fly fishing Hyalite Creek near Bozeman is certainly worth a try when conditions are appropriate. Expect to see other anglers and to have a busy roadside on nicer days from late spring all the way through October. The Hyalite Canyon corridor is a very busy recreational zone that offers camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, and various water sports in the summertime, as well as a variety of snow sports in the winter.
Our Bozeman fly shop is open year-round, and we are always happy to get folks pointed in the right direction. Hyalite Creek is one of those places that is not quite the secret that it was, say 20 years or so back. However, it is still a special place for many local folks, and that’s one of the reasons you won’t find too much information in fly shops or online about Hyalite Creek. No guides are licensed to fish the creek with clients on USFS lands along Hyalite Creek. As always, be respectful of other Montana anglers by giving yourself plenty of space and leaving water for those anglers downstream.