Rates, Terms, and F.A.Q.

While we love taking people fishing, we don't do it for free...

This page isn’t exactly the fun part. Hopefully your eyes don’t glaze over. Feel free to skim, though.

Rates & Inclusions

The following rates are in effect for trips booked on or after January 1, 2024. Trips booked prior to this date will be charged at the rate in effect when the trip was booked.

The rates are per guide and refer to the total number of people who go on the trip, whether all are fishing or not (in other words, a non-angling passenger in the boat counts as a client). More than two clients requires booking additional guides.

Guided Fly Fishing Rates - Yellowstone Country Fly Fishing

2024 Guided Trip Rates. Rates valid for trips booked on or after Jan 1, 2024.

Included in the above rates are: the guide service, water on all trips, a picnic-style lunch on full-day Montana trips, a picnic-style or hiking-friendly (energy bars, etc.) lunch on full-day Yellowstone Park trips, light snacks on shoulder season trips, soft drinks on all trips when requested, all necessary flies and fishing tackle if you don’t bring your own, and transportation to and from a prearranged meeting point.

NOT included are: gratuities for your guide (average full-day gratuity is $80 to $150), YNP and/or Montana fishing licenses (if required), private water access fees (if applicable), YNP access fees (if applicable), and wading gear. Note that wading gear is not generally necessary on June-September float trips.

Trip Hours & Timing

Full-day trips meet between 5:30 and 9:00AM and run about nine hours from hello to goodbye, assuming we’re meeting in Livingston. Half-day trips run about five hours. Rates apply to all trip types and on public or private water. In general half-day trips are available only on waters near Livingston, while full-day trips are available anywhere we guide. Yellowstone Park full-day trips will run longer if we’re meeting in Livingston, due to increased travel time.

Shoulder season trips are available from March 15 through May 14 and from October 1 through mid-November. They start later than full-day trips because early mornings are slow enough that full-day trips may not make sense, but run longer than half-day trips because rivers are cold enough that working slowly is usually more effective than floating along quickly as we must do on half-days. They are often the best trip options at these times.

Winter trips include roughly three hours “active time” and are available from November 15 through March. You wouldn’t want to be on the water any longer, anyway. These trips are walk-wade only.

Terms

Deposit Policy: A 50% deposit is required via credit card or personal check to confirm and hold your booking. We generally cap these deposits at $1500.00. We also require a credit card number to keep on file for final payment.

Cancellation Policy: Deposits are fully refundable minus a 5% fee up to one month prior to the first date of the trip. Between one month and one week prior to the trip, deposits will be refunded if we are able to rebook the guide(s) assigned to the trip and forfeited if not. Trips canceled within 7 days of the first date of the booking require full payment if we are unable to rebook the guide. We strongly suggest purchasing trip insurance.

Weather and Water Condition-Related Changes: We fish rain, snow, wind, and shine. Trips may not be canceled due to unpleasant but safe weather conditions. Clients are expected to bring or be prepared to rent/purchase clothing, raingear, and if necessary wading gear suitable for the weather and water conditions. If the guide(s) determine that conditions are dangerous or unfishable, we will attempt to reschedule or modify the trip. If this is not possible, we’ll issue a full refund. Note that we do not guarantee we’ll be able to fish a specific body of water or use specific fishing techniques. Provided that fisheries suitable for the trip type you have booked (float, float-wade, walk-wade, power boat or private water) are available, we expect the trip to run.

What if YCFF Cancels? If we have to cancel a trip due to dangerous or unfishable weather or water conditions, motor vehicle or boat breakdowns, guide illness or injury, or state or federal closures (usually related to drought or fire), we will issue a full refund if we are unable to reschedule, as well as offer profuse apologies.

We reserve the right to modify the above policies on a case-by-case basis solely at our discretion. We’re not hardcases, here, but we make 90% of our yearly income between mid-April and mid-October and need to protect ourselves from late and frivolous cancellations that cost us work.

Licensing & Insurance Fine Print

Walter Wiese is Montana outfitter #22001, Madison River SRP holder #297, USCG Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (Inland) Ref #3528616, and holds a permit to operate from the BLM Carbella fishing access. He is Yellowstone National Park CUA permit holder 19-426SSF. Both he and all guides we use hold general liability and commercial auto insurance and have CPR and/or First Aid certifications required for the jurisdiction in which we are operating.

All clients (or their parent or guardian) will be required to sign an acknowledgement of risk & acceptance of responsibility form and a form acknowledging the policies we require clients to accept regarding posting photos, videos, and other details of our waters on social media and other online platforms before the trip begins. A photographic release document allowing us to take and use photos of you and your party in advertising is optional. We encourage you to view these documents (rev. 11/23/22) at this link.

General Guided Trip Policies

  • Trips are catch and release only except where must-kill regulations are in place.
  • All fishing is barbless and artificials-only. No natural or synthetic bait. Spin fishing is permitted on boat or private lake trips but not on any walk & wade trips. Spin-fishing clients must remove one hook point from any treble hooks.
  • We do not intentionally target or disturb actively-spawning wild trout. Trips fishing for “fall-run brown trout” target only pre-spawn trout in deeper water, not spawners on their shallow redds, for example.
  • All plastic and aluminum containers used on our trips will be recycled.
  • We follow “leave no trace” guidelines on all trips.
  • We follow Yellowstone Park guidelines on animal interactions on all trips, inside the park or not. Animals get the right of way…
  • We attempt to follow “visual rule of crowding” guidelines on all walk trips, when it is at all feasible. Basically this means fishing out of sight of other anglers whenever we can.
  • We accept clients aged 10 and up, or 12 and up for trips from October 15 through April 15 (the latter is due to cold temps and dangerous water conditions for younger children).
  • Yellowstone Country Fly Fishing is an equal-opportunity service provider and does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, creed, or national origin. We are LGBTQA+ friendly and support reproductive freedom.
  • No more than five guests may join us on any trip unless additional guides are booked. This includes non-angling observers who are not being charged, even on lessons. Yellowstone Park regulations do not permit us to supervise more than five guests at a time, and anyone with us on a trip is a guest whether we are charging them or not.
  • Guests may be asked to sign acknowledgement of risk and acceptance of responsibility forms at the beginning of the trip, including notes on any physical or mental considerations the guides must know about (eg non-obvious injuries, fear of animals or heights, inability to swim, etc.). Refusal to do so will constitute a late cancellation and require full payment.
  • Clients must wear eye protection at all times (with polarized sunglasses strongly encouraged).
  • Wading gear worn in boats must not include any metal studs, cleats, or bars. Wading gear worn in Yellowstone Park must not include felt soles. Wading gear will be cleaned before moving between water bodies in different river drainages.
  • We ask that our clients leave their firearms at home, even when they possess valid concealed-carry permits. To be frank, we don’t know how clients will react to bears and virtually all concealed-carry weapons lack the muzzle energy to do more than make bears angry anyway. Our guides carry bear spray on all walk trips and we have additional canisters available for client use, on request. Bear spray has been proven to be far more effective at deterring bear attacks than firearms. For what it’s worth, most of our staff own firearms of one type or another and some are concealed-carry permit holders, so this isn’t a political statement of any kind.
  • No illegal drugs on trips, please. This includes any marijuana in client possession while traveling in our vehicles in Yellowstone Park. Since this is a federal park, state legalization laws do not apply (including Montana medical and recreational marijuana laws) and our guides may be considered responsible if we get checked by a ranger or cop and clients are in possession. Clients will be sued in civil court for any violations of this policy that impact Yellowstone Country Fly Fishing, its operations, its property, or its guides in any way.
  • Recreational marijuana is legal in Montana and guests may partake as they wish within legal limits. Please acquaint yourself with Montana laws on transporting and consuming marijuana. It is illegal to carry marijuana openly in a motor vehicle in much the same way as it is to carry an open container of alcohol, for example.
  • No smoking or other open flames in rubber rafts (for obvious reasons) or during periods of High or Extreme fire danger as declared by Yellowstone Park, the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, and/or the state of Montana. All tobacco ash/waste must be handled in a way that prevents litter and the potential for fire. Some guides may have respiratory issues and ask you to refrain from smoking or vaping in their presence, but subject to fire restrictions in late summer we can always stop for a smoke break.
  • No glass containers in boats, though wine bottles stowed in gear bags or the cooler except at lunch are fine. No open alcohol containers in our motor vehicles except obvious refuse stowed in the cooler.

What Should I Bring?

When you book we’ll e-mail you a guided trip itinerary that includes details on clothing, wading gear, and fishing tackle you should bring. Otherwise, this packing list will give you a place to start, and our trip planning pages will help you plan for your DIY fishing.

Other Assorted Questions

What’s Your Operating Season?

We offer guided trips year-round. The widest variety of available trips are available from late May through early October, but unless it’s so cold we’ll turn into icicles if we try to fish, we can usually put something together. The other pages in this section of the website will give you an idea of what’s available when, and we’ll also cover this when you contact me to book.

Are You Licensed and Insured?

Yes to both questions. We are licensed on waters in Montana subject to general regulations, in Yellowstone National Park, in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest (in cooperation with Parks’ Fly Shop), on the Madison River, and at the Carbella-BLM boat ramp. Walter Wiese is Montana Outfitter #22001 and a USCG-licensed captain. Our guides all have First Aid and CPR certifications, which are required to even get a guide or outfitter license in Montana and for all commercial use within Yellowstone Park.

I’ve Never Fly Fished Before, but I Want to Learn. Do You Take Beginners?

Absolutely. Probably a quarter of our clients have never held a fly rod before. Check out the Beginner Trips page in this section of the site to learn about which trips make the most sense for beginners.

One thing to understand is that fishing with spinning (conventional) tackle, even for trout, does not generally help learning how to fly fish. In fact, since the casting, reeling, and line handling in fly fishing are very different than those in fishing with conventional tackle, extensive experience with conventional tackle can actually make learning how to fly fish harder. In other words, those with a lot of experience with other gear but not fly tackle qualify as beginner fly anglers.

My Child is “X” Years Old. Is He/She Old Enough to Go on a Guided Trip?

The age at which you introduce a child to fly fishing depends on three factors: the child’s attention span and size and their ability to walk to the stream and along the stream banks or to stand up in a high-sided drift boat. Fly fishing requires considerably more focus than fishing with bait or lures, and fly rods for our area need to range from eight to nine feet in length. Both factors make fly fishing a poor choice for very young children. In general, a child is big enough and has the attention span to be ready to learn to fly fish between age 8 and age 12, though as noted above we do not take kids under age 10 because of the rugged nature of our guiding. Teens (and really most kids over about age 10) are usually fine for the walking and wading, provided they want to go on the trip. Kids and teens who don’t want to go fishing but are forced to do so by their parents take years off of the lives of everyone around them…

In general, we will not take young children fishing unless a parent or other adult comes too, since we’re guides rather than babysitters, while those aged 13 and up can be unaccompanied provided they’re no more insane than your average teen.

For what it’s worth, the clients who typically learn how to fly fish the fastest are girls and young women aged 12 to 20 or so, provided they’re eager. All young people learn physical tasks quickly, and young women are less likely to try to rely on brute force than young men, and are a bit more likely to listen to the guide rather than getting into a testosterone war instead, both of which help slash the learning curve.

What Trips are Available for Anglers With Disabilities or Limited Mobility?

Yellowstone Park and Montana are rugged places. While there are some streams in Yellowstone Park where the banks are relatively flat and the wading is relatively easy, nowhere we guide qualifies as remotely handicapped-accessible and the gentle roadside areas suffer from overwhelming crowds. For anyone who really does not trust their feet (or is in a wheelchair, on crutches, etc.), we suggest boat trips. We have successfully taken anglers in their 80s who had to put their wheelchair in the back of the boat.

We ask our potential clients for a description of their age, general fitness level, and mobility when we take the booking, and also ask clients to disclose any phobias or other issues that might impact where we go fishing (such as a fear of animals or of heights, which as you can probably imagine are important factors in Yellowstone Park). This will help the guide dial in a good place to go. As noted above, for some anglers a float trip is by far the best option, but there are good walk/wade options for most anglers; we can find good places to take mountain goat 20 year-olds as well as unsteady older people who might need to lean on the guide’s shoulder from time to time. We just don’t want to find out five minutes beforehand that the spot we planned on will be too rough. Please be completely honest in your assessment. The single worst trip we have ever had in our careers as guides, covering about 100 trips (or more) per season since 2001, resulted from clients who did not give us an honest assessment of their hiking or wading ability when they booked and then for whatever reason refused to understand the severe limitations this placed on where and how we could fish.

Please note that our Acknowledgment of Risk and Acceptance of Responsibility Form that all clients must sign and date before going fishing with us includes a section indicating that any physical or mental limitations have been disclosed beforehand. Yes, this is to protect ourselves and our guides.

Do I Need to Know How to Swim?

No, but not knowing how will slash the number of places we feel comfortable taking you, because wading anglers do fall in, clients do fall out of the boat or fall getting in and getting out, and once or twice a year some guide on the Yellowstone out of all the guide services makes a big mistake and flips a boat. With non-swimmers we’ll stick to small streams and gentle rivers on walk-wade trips, and we’ll float flat sections on boat trips where the guide could make a rescue without endangering the boat. Non-swimmers are required to wear life jackets at all times on float trips.

For what it’s worth, we added this entry in winter 2018-2019 because Walter had a non-swimmer fall out of the boat in a whitewater stretch in 2018. This was the first time in his career that he’d ever had a client fall out of the boat while underway. The client didn’t disclose his inability to swim, he’d requested the whitewater float, and he took off his lifejacket when he said it was safe to do so “if you feel comfortable.” Walter was a lifeguard as a teen, and he had to jump in and perform a water rescue for the first time in almost two decades. Good thing it all came back quick, because the client was drowning when Walter got to him… We now double check to ask everyone if they can swim.

A Member of Our Party is Pregnant. What Trips are Available?

Because of the risk of falls on walk & wade trips, even on gentle roadside streams, we take pregnant clients only on boat trips after the first trimester, more or less.

All boat trips are suitable for pregnant women. Use your head, though. If a member of your party is near-term, it would be a bit of a bummer for everyone concerned for contractions to start when we’re four miles from the nearest boat ramp, dependent on commercial shuttle drivers to move our vehicle (which takes hours), with no way to get off the water in a timely manner.

Can You Take Anglers Who Don’t Speak English?

Yes, but it’s not easy. We really do need at least one member of every group to speak English, so he/she can translate for us. Even so, such trips need to involve a lot of patience and acceptance of some slapstick humor and misunderstandings all around. The key problem is that fly fishing is a technical sport and it’s very hard to explain the precise actions involved via pantomime. Folks who speak English as a second language are no problem at all, especially if they are near-fluent. In fact, many of the most-skilled anglers we’ve taken over the years were from Europe or Japan and spoke English as a second language.

What’s for Lunch? What About to Drink?

We provide lunch on all full-day Montana trips, water on all trips, and soft drinks on all trips when it is practicable to carry them (in other words on boat and near-road walk & trips, not on hike-in trips) on request. Typically we do picnic-style sandwich lunches on our trips, with premade sandwiches or wraps, chips, fruit, granola bars, etc. At times our guides make something more complicated (usually after going insane from eating a roast beef sandwich every day), but we virtually never cook on-stream. We figure our clients want to fish and our trips already usually last until later in the day than those of most of our competitors, so we don’t want to take the time to make something complicated for lunch. If having a gourmet lunch is a key element of how much enjoyment you take from a guided trip, you should probably book with another outfitter.

If you require kosher, vegetarian, gluten-free, diabetic-friendly, or other specialized meals, please let us know when you book and we should be able to accommodate. Please be very specific as to your needs and make sure we understand the details. One client mentioned “I’ll eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” We took this to mean he didn’t care what we made. In reality, he had dietary issues which meant that peanut butter was about the only lunch protein that didn’t give him stomach trouble.

If your dietary needs are extremely complex, we may ask you to bring your own lunch. We’ll offer a slight discount if this is the case.

Beginning on 2024, we are no longer able to offer full lunches on Yellowstone National Park full-day trips. A new rule requires lunches served on guided tours in Yellowstone to be made in commercial kitchens (caterers, basically). Since we usually have to leave our hometown of Livingston before 6AM to reach Yellowstone Park in a timely manner for summer fishing trips, commercial kitchens are not available. We serve packaged granola bars, fruit, nuts, etc. on Yellowstone Park trips.

When Does the Trip Start? How Long is It?

The various pages covering specific trip types cover this question. We’ll usually give you a rough idea on our meeting time when you book, then finalize it a day or two in advance when we know what weather and water conditions are and how the fishing has been at specific times of day.

Full-day trips usually include 8-10 hours of the guide’s time including travel time from Livingston, MT. Yellowstone Park and power boat trips run a bit longer most days.

Half-day trips usually include 4-6 hours of the guide’s time including travel time from Livingston. Yellowstone Park trips may run a bit longer if we have to get a long way into the park to find water that’s clear (most common in May and June).

Please note that refunds are unavailable if you choose to end a trip early. If weather conditions become dangerous early in a trip or water conditions suddenly fall apart, rate adjustments may be possible solely at our discretion.

What Kind of Trip Should I Take? Full-Day or Half-Day?

The various trips we run offer different experiences, produce different results at different times of year, may or may not be available at certain times of year (though all are available in the core summer and early fall season) and are suited to individuals with different skill levels and interests. The best way to decide which type of trip to take if you’re unsure is to call us or e-mail us tp talk it over. The descriptions of each trip type given on each type’s own page in this section of the website will often give you a ballpark idea.

Full-day trips are far more popular than half-day trips except for beginner clients. Most of the time we suggest half-day trips for beginners and children aged 10-12, while full-days are better for others. On full-day trips we have more time to reach distant destinations, can hike farther, cover more water, see the whole day’s succession of hatches and the like, and all in all have a much richer experience. Half-day floats do have one benefit: it is usually easier to get away from other boats on half-days than full-days.

Except for beginners and families with children, cost is usually the determining factor in whether clients book full or half-day trips. Please note that not all trips are available as half-days,  hike & wade trips in many areas of Yellowstone Park, and float trips on rivers other than the Yellowstone and Lower Madison.

How is the Cell Service on the Trip?

It ranges from nonexistent to 5G LTE, depending on location and provider. Sometimes on a float trip coverage might change two or three times over the course of a mile. We get great cell coverage on-stream on some walk trips and none at all on others. Verizon has the best service in our area. If you need to have cell coverage during your trip, you must tell us this when you book, or at the latest before departing on the trip. Most of the year, we can take you fishing in an area that keeps you in cell range if we have to (if you have Verizon anyway), but we’ve got to know this ahead of time

Please note that if you start Instagramming in the middle of an intense insect hatch when the trout are going bonkers for dry flies, it is at least conceivable your guide will take your phone away… 🙂