Trout live mostly in lakes and rivers except for steelhead trout. This one can spend two or three years before returning to freshwater. All trout anglers spend valuable time looking for the right spot to catch trout. In this article, you will learn more about the best trout rivers in the US.

What Makes A River Good For Trout?

Good river for trout

The main criteria for a good trout habitat are the availability of current. A stream with a moderately fast current is ideal, as the water flows in a consistent, predictable pattern. Fish prefer rivers with eddies and slow water, as they don’t have to move as far in search of food. A river with a moderate flow has plenty of covers and the temperature is moderate enough to support a fish.

Trout also require a cool temperature and consistent dissolved oxygen levels to thrive. The two go hand-in-hand. In fact, most fish kills occur because the water is too warm. So, it’s vital that a river’s temperature remains consistently cool. Otherwise, a fish kill occurs. A river with a stable water temperature is ideal, and a steady stream is better for the trout’s habitat.

An ideal river should have plenty of structure. In addition to its bottom contour, it should also have a large amount of woody debris, eddies, and other shady areas. Despite the absence of shady banks, these structures provide excellent trout habitat. By analyzing the structure of a river, you can decide whether it is suitable for the specific type of trout you’re targeting.

What Are The Best Trout Rivers In The US?

Best trout rivers in US

While you can fish in any of the great US rivers for trout. There are some special places that you should check out if you’re serious about fishing for the elusive fish. The Madison River in Yellowstone has been named one of the hundred best trout streams in the country. This picturesque section of the Yellowstone is renowned for its exceptional fishing. The Madison also offers excellent wading opportunities and a spectacular backdrop.

Whether you’re into fly-fishing, there are a few essential ingredients for successful trout-fishing trips. The first is a quality fishery. You should choose a river that’s well-known for producing big, beautiful fish. Look for one that’s far from crowded, so you have space to spread out. A long river provides ample opportunity to make a successful catch.

Trout Rivers in US: Montana’s Lamar River

If you’re looking for a spectacular setting where you can catch trout, Montana’s Lamar River is a prime choice. This scenic stream runs into the Yellowstone River near Silver Gate, Montana, and features a five to six-mile stretch of river. Fish that average fourteen inches to 20 inches are abundant in the canyon, so you can expect to catch some big ones. The best times to fish the Lamar is mid-July and late July. The best times of year are mid to late August.

In late summer, the Lamar flattens out, which makes fly selection and presentation more important. Compared to smaller specimens upstream, Lamar River trout are less tolerant of terrestrial patterns and are more sensitive to hoppers and pale morning dun hatches. During late August, the hatches start and the fish start to turn on your hopper patterns. As a result, it’s a good idea to switch up your flies, including changing color patterns and imitations of these species.

If you’re looking for a stunning setting for your next fishing trip, Montana’s Lamar River is a great choice. Not only does it feature one of the most picturesque vistas of Yellowstone National Park, but it’s also a great place to catch big Yellowstone Cutthroat trout. To access the river, you can either drive through Yellowstone National Park or take a five-mile hike to the headwaters. The only caveat is the fact that you’ll need to spend at least two days on your trip in order to make the most of it.

The Green River and the Madison River

The Madison River and the Green rivers are fabled for their abundant trout populations. The Madison River begins as a tiny springtime creek in Yellowstone National Park and runs through the country’s most thermally active region. This makes the water temperature of this high-mountain river unusually warm, reaching 70 degrees in the summer. The Madison also has a high nutrient content, so it is an excellent place to catch trout during late spring, early summer, and early fall.

The Madison River is particularly productive in the early summer when the entire river fishes well. During this time, the lower Madison is clear and fishable through mid-June. Golden stoneflies and PMDs hatch after the runoff subside, presenting a perfect combination for dry fly fishing during this time. Streamer and hopper fishing also remains productive during the early part of the summer, with the Lower Madison holding its water temperature until mid-July.

For the best dry fly fishing in Madison, anglers should head to the Madison River. This river is open to float fishing and has 39 miles in length. Despite the heavy fishing pressure, the Madison River is known for its high and hefty fish populations. While there are many other trout-friendly rivers in Madison County, this one is one of the best, especially when it comes to the quality of the trout fishing.

The Missouri River

Early June is prime fishing time on The Missouri River. Tan caddis and PMDS hatch, and you can expect dependable dry fly fishing all month long. Later in the month, the bugs begin to diminish and the fish become pickier, but other types of bugs may produce for you as long as you know where to look. In addition to the bugs mentioned above, you’ll want to watch for midge hatches throughout the rest of the summer.

The Missouri River has a great variety of water types to fish for trout, from riffles that stretch for hundreds of yards to bottomless cliffside pools. Other species of trout in the river include mountain whitefish and the occasional carp. Missouri is known for its big, aggressive trout, and while wading isn’t intimidating, it is still important to use a tippet and leaders.

The hatches on The Missouri River are dense. Many of the same western river insects, including mayflies, caddis, and terrestrials, will be present. Trout on the river can be aggressive meat-eaters, so nymphing with worms, sowbugs, and scuds should result in some decent catches. Large trout will typically be drawn to nymphs that imitate smaller baitfish or rodents.

The Missouri River is a large tailwater, meaning it flows directly out of the Rocky Mountains. Fishing is allowed along the river for 40 miles or more past Cascade. With 13 boat access points and a variety of fly patterns, there are plenty of options for anglers. In the summer months, dry flies and caddis hatches are popular choices. You can fish dry flies in the upper and lower Missouri Rivers.

Trout Rivers in US: The Arkansas River

While most anglers target trout in the warmer months, winter is another great time to fish The Arkansas River. While the river remains cold in winter, it has plenty of food for trout, especially in the tailwaters. Stoneflies and caddis are the main types of insects that trout feed on. Although the Arkansas River is known for a midge hatch, it is rare on a typical winter day. Midge nymphs can also produce good results in the warmer upper section of the river.

While brown and rainbow trout are native to the Arkansas River, there is also plenty of rainbows and cutthroat trout present. While the Arkansas River is known for its large population of brown trout, there are areas where you can fish during hatches. If you plan to fish in July through September, you should be able to target trout by fishing with imitations of terrestrial insects like beetles and grasshoppers. Midges are also important to catch trout on a cold day. Streamers are also a popular fly to fish in The Arkansas River. Streamers are small patterns that imitate sculpins, minnows, leeches, and baitfish.

When fishing The Arkansas River, you should wear appropriate clothing and equipment. You should use a 5 or 6-weight fly rod and leaders with a length of 8 1/2 to 9 feet. Then, you should fish midge-attracting patterns such as attractors, larvae, and emergers. While fishing in Arkansas, you should wear neoprene chest waders as the water temperatures can be very cold. You should also wear slip-resistant boots when holding your fly rod.

Trout Rivers in US: The San Juan River

If you’ve ever wanted to fish in The San Juan River for trout, you have many options. The most popular type of rig used for the San Juan is a two-fly rig. Most fishermen fish it with a 5x or 4x leader. To start, tie a nail knot to connect your leader to your fly line. Next, tie on a 4x or 7x section of tippet, and then tie on a weight.

While the river is generally accessible to the public, you might find it easier to fish from a boat. Many anglers choose to fish on the “quality waters” in the upper 3 miles of the river. If you don’t have a boat, wade the lower river to find good fishing spots. There are many river access ramps in the lower San Juan River. The Texas Hole is an example that is close to both areas.

If you choose to wade, try to focus on areas of the river where the current is running into flat sections. This way, you’ll have a good chance of hooking a trout that’s feeding on a midge. Fish will often shelter near the bottom in a rock or depression. To increase your chances of hooking a fish, match the hatch. The Baetis hatches late afternoon or early morning and overcast days are ideal for this.

If you are looking for a great time to fish the San Juan, you’ll want to go during the spring or fall. Fish are actively feeding on midges and insects during this time of year. You’ll want to be prepared to catch fish on the streamer, dry fly, and midge patterns. In addition, the water is typically discolored during spring flows, so you’ll have to use different tactics than in other seasons.


To get to catch trout, a fisherman should know the trout’s habitat. Trout need a river with specific elements: availability of current, cool temperature, consistent dissolved oxygen levels, and plenty of structure. In these terms, Montana’s Lamar River, the Green River, the Madison River, the Missouri River, the Arkansas River, and the San Juan River are the best trout rivers in the US.