Shields River Rainbow Trout
Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Shields River in Montana
The Shields River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River
that's approximately 50 miles long. It begins in the
Gallatin National Forest in the Crazy Mountians and
flows between the Bridger Range and the Crazy
Mountains to the Yellowstone River near Livingston,

Fly fishing the Shields River isn't very popular for visiting
anglers due to the many other popular trout streams in
the area including the Yellowstone, Missouri and
Boulder Rivers. Access problems also prevent it from
being a popular destination. Yellowstone National Park
and all of its highly famed trout streams are in relatively
close proximity to the Shields River.

Like many other headwater streams in Montana, the
headwaters of the Shields River have a good population
of cutthroat and brook trout. Once the stream flows out
of the mountains and into the valley, rainbows and
brown trout begin to show up. The lower section of the
river has some very nice size brown trout.

For most of its entire length, the river is a small, winding
stream. Fly fishing the Shields River is definitely a small
stream undertaking. You want need a drift boat to fish it.

The river can become off color due to sediment and
erosion. It can also become low in the Summer months.
Casting is difficult in many areas due to lots of bushes
and brush along its banks. Much of the water is used for

Another problem anglers face is the river flows through
private property for most of its entire length. The best
access is at bridge crossing but there are plenty of them
to choose from.

With all the disadvantages we have mentioned, you may
be thinking that the stream isn't worth fishing. That's not
the case at all. The fact that it is not heavily pressured
and one usually has multiple places along the river to
fish makes it somewhat of a sleeper trout stream. We
have been pleasantly surprised each of the few times we
have fished this small river. The odds are good that you
will find fly fishing the Shields River rewarding.

Fly fishing the Shields River follows the Montana general
trout season regulations.
Springtime is a good time except during the time of the
Summertime is the best time to fish the river.
Early Fall can provide some good fly fishing
opportunities, especially for the brown trout.
Type of Stream

Rainbow Trout
Cutthroat Trout
Brook Trout
Brown Trout

Small to Medium

Southern Montana

Nearest Towns
Clyde Park

3rd Sat. May - Nov 30th

Access is generally poor due to lots
of private property

Non-Resident License
State of Montana

National Weather Service Link

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Shields River Fly Fishing Report:
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Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

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