Shields River: Interstate 90 – Livingston Area
The Shields River begins in the Crazy Mountains, flowing past the small town of Wilsall and Clyde Park on Highway 89. This small bottomland river joins the Yellowstone River east of Livingston, Montana. Although the river holds some hefty browns, it is impacted by irrigation drawdowns and thermal heating during the summer months. It is best fished in the spring and fall.
Most of the land is posted, affording few access points. Even the headwaters are mostly posted, and by the time public land is reached, the river is nothing more than a rivulet and home to very small cutthroats. However, having said that, many anglers find good wade fishing accessing the river from the county bridges. Remember, Montana access laws allow anglers to move up and down a river as long as they stay below the high water mark. One worthy side trip out of Livingston is Fairy Lake.
Fairy Lake is reached from Highway 89 near the town of Clyde Park or north of the town of Wilsall. The lake may also be easily reached 37 miles from Bozeman. The lake is 12 acres and sheltered in a bowl. Access to the lake is less than a quarter of a mile straight down a trail from the campground. Popular with weekend visitors from the Bozeman area, surprisingly few visitors fished this little gem on the Saturday that I visited the lake with Max, my young Labrador retriever. Expect to catch 9- to 12-inch cutthroats on small bead-head nymphs.