The Madison: The section I fished on this trip is located between West Yellowstone and Ennis, Mont., near the small town of Cameron. Called "The World's Longest Riffle,'' the Madison doesn't disappoint. Wide, shallow and strewn with rocks and boulders, the Madison's measurable descent roils its waters. Nymphs were our saviors. West Fork Cabin Camp (wfork.com) near Cameron is on the river, well managed and inexpensive for both cabins and RV sites.
Rock Creek: Located in western Montana, this has long been considered one of the state's premier wading streams. Wide and pretty, it can see a fair amount of wading traffic. But access is good -- albeit interspersed among many privately held properties. This river holds some big trout. But the ones we hooked were 14 inches or less. Jim and Mary's RV Park (jimandmarys.com) near Missoula is immaculately maintained and well-shaded.
The Yellowstone: We launched our drift boat just east of Livingston and floated toward Big Timber. Fishing has been good this summer. But rainstorms and a gusty, relentless wind challenged us. We found some success trailing nymph or emerger droppers behind 'hoppers. Streamers also are a Yellowstone favorite. This river at times proved a challenge for me to read, guiding a drift boat.
The Bighorn: Black caddis were the big thing a couple of weeks ago, grasshoppers, too, and the biggest fish we took on this river, a 21-inch rainbow, was fooled by a big foam 'hopper. Various bead-headed nymphs also produced. Accommodations are a little limited in Fort Smith, Mont. But Cottonwood Camp (cottonwood campbighorn.com) is an excellent campground. And the Bighorn Trout Shop (bighorntroutshop.com) in Fort Smith offers pleasant accommodations with good food for guests.