On this page we discuss rates, deposit and cancellation policies, and other common "pre-booking" concerns. You should also check out the guided trip FAQ, which answers other common questions (and in some cases repeats what's on this page).
Policies and rates revised January 16, 2019. The policies described below supersede all previous documents, online or printed, and are in effect as of this date for all trips booked on or after this date. We will update other documentation to match this page ASAP. This notice is mostly just to cover us if we miss something somewhere.
We run guided trips year-round, though the availability of each trip type varies by season and by both year-to-year and day-to-day water conditions. Here's an approximate rundown:
With the exception of lessons, the following rates are for one or two anglers. Three-person trips are available on walk-wade trips only, for an additional $100 on half-day trips and $150 on full-day trips. More than three anglers on any guided trip or more than two anglers on any boat trip require additional guides at standard rates.
While we are eager to book clients for multi-day packages, the rates below do not include multi-day packages. We want to plan out packages with each group of clients on an individual basis, after talking things through. Generally speaking, our packages are based on the standard rates below, with additional discounts kicking in for packages of 5+ consecutive days, with the exception of Missouri River trips from April through early June, where discounts apply to 2+ days of fishing.
While most of the waters we guide are available for single-day bookings, some destinations require multi-day bookings due to their distance from Gardiner, MT. These bookings may be for either full-day or half-day trips. These fisheries are noted when appropriate on the other guided trip pages in the website.
Not all fisheries and not all trip types (walk/float/combo) are available all year, with weather and water conditions and regulations the key factors involved in determining the trip types that are available. Please ask us for details, or read through the relevant other pages in the guided trips section of the site, which go into a lot of detail about where we fish when.
Except where specifically noted, rates are identical for walk-wade and float trips. The main determining factors are instead the time of year and whether we're fishing public water where we are responsible for commercial use fees or private waters where clients are responsible for their own "rod fees," but we pay no commercial fees.
Full-day public water trips are available on public rivers, streams, or lakes in Yellowstone Park and Montana within about a 2hr radius of Gardiner or Livingston, MT. They begin between 5AM and 10AM and run until 3PM to 7PM, with precise hours depending on weather and water conditions, the time we meet in the morning, and travel time to the water we'll be fishing. They run about 8-11 hours including the guide's travel time from Gardiner, MT for Yellowstone Park trips, or from Gardiner or Livingston, MT for float trips. Full-days are available from March through October. Lunch is included.
Add $50 for "double half-day" floats. See the river floats page for details on these specialty trips.
Full-day private water trips are available on the Story Ranch Lakes, Burns Lake, Depuy Spring Creek, Armstrong Spring Creek, and Nelson's Spring Creek, all located in the Yellowstone River valley between 30 minutes and 1hr 45min from Gardiner.
NOTE: the rates above do not include access fees of $40 to $120 per client per day depending on the body of water and the time of year. These fees are payable to the landowner by clients or on behalf of clients. We will let you know the fees when you book.
Fishing licenses are required on Armstrong and Nelson's, but not on the other private waters.
Half-day trips are available on waters in Montana and Yellowstone within about an hour of Gardiner or Livingston, MT. They may begin anytime between 5AM and 4PM, depending on trip location, travel time, client goals, and the weather/season. They run 4-6 hours including travel time. Lunch is not included.
Half-day private water trips are available on the Story Ranch Lakes, Depuy Spring Creek, Armstrong Spring Creek, and Nelson's Spring Creek, all located in the Yellowstone River valley between 30 minutes and 1hr from Gardiner.
NOTE: the rates above do not include access fees of $40 to $120 per client per day depending on the body of water and the time of year. These fees are payable to the landowner by clients or on behalf of clients. We will let you know the fees when you book. Note that private landowners do not offer reduced fees for half-day trips, so full-day trips on these waters are more cost-effective.
Fishing licenses are required on Armstrong and Nelson's, but not on the other private waters.
Combo trips include a half-day in the boat and a half-day on foot. These trips take place exclusively on public land, with half the day spent in the northern part of Yellowstone Park and half spent on the Yellowstone River within about 30 miles of Gardiner, MT. The additional price reflects the fact that our commercial use fees are doubled due to the fact two different jurisdictions are involved, as well as the fact these days tend to run long and so the guide deserves a bit more.
Spring/fall discounts apply on public water trips during late fall and early spring. Take $50 off a half-day trip or $100 off a full-day trip. Note that full-day trips will run a couple hours short including travel under these rates due to slow fishing and uncomfortable weather early and late in the day. Standard rates apply to longer trips.
Discounts apply from November 1 through May 20 on all waters except the Missouri River, though in the dead of winter our winter special trip is a better bet. Meeting times in spring and late fall will generally be around 10AM to noon, or a bit earlier in early May.
Missouri River Spring Special: $900 for a full-day float trip and a half-day float trip on consecutive days, offer valid March 15 through June 14. Note that you will need to meet your guide in or near Helena, Wolf Creek, or Craig, MT on these trips.
In the dead of winter, fishing opportunities are limited to the warmest part of the day on most waters and most days. For this reason, we offer a special low rate for short (2.5-3 hours on the water) walk-wade trips on the Yellowstone River. Trips will generally meet around noon and be off the water by 4PM. These trips and rates are available from November 1 through April 14, with the first half of November and February and March prime time.
Basic fly fishing lessons are available year-round and take place at a wading access in Yellowstone Park or Montana. Add $25 per student after the first, with a maximum of five students. Trips include 2 hours on the water. Please note that we do not accept reservations more than a week in advance for lessons from June 1 through September, and availability during the summer will be limited and based on guide availability.
Note that we are happy to take beginners on normal guided trips. The lessons are just "a taste" for those without the time or budget to take a full guided trip.
All lessons are taught by fully-licensed fly fishing guides, but given their short duration that limits our ability to get to ideal fisheries, we do not consider these full-fledged guided trips.
Casting lessons are available year-round and consist only of dry-land casting instruction and practice, typically at the Gardiner high school field. Add $10 per student flat fee after the first student. Maximum 10 students. Minimum 1hr instruction. Please note that we do not accept reservations more than a week in advance for lessons from June 1 through September, and availability during the summer will be limited and based on guide availability.
Reservations are required. For trips from mid-October through mid-May, we can often be booked a day or two in advance, though not always. During the June-September absolute peak season, all our in-house guides as well as the experienced independent contractor guides we use are often fully booked months in advance, so we suggest calling or e-mailing to book as soon as you can. The tighter your available dates, the more important it is to give as much notice as possible.
To begin booking a trip, fill out our trip booking and information form, call, or e-mail. We finalize all bookings over the phone, so your booking is not confirmed until you hear it from us verbally and later in writing.
To confirm your booking and hold your date(s), we require a deposit of one half the total trip price or $1000, whichever is less upon booking. This deposit may be paid via credit card (VISA/MC). If you wish to pay the deposit via personal check, cashier's check, or money order, we must receive this payment within 7 days of booking. A valid credit card number is required to hold all dates, whether this is the preferred payment method or not. For bookings made less than seven days before the trip date, the deposit must be made upon booking via credit card.
If you book a private water trip and we are reserving the water with the landowner on your behalf, we will add the required access fees to your deposit.
Since our business is highly seasonal and late cancellations are difficult to rebook, we have adopted the following cancellation policies. They are comparable to those of our competitors.
The balance of the trip must be paid in full before the last time you depart our shop. In other words, you may pay at the end of a trip if you'll be picking up your car at our shop at the end of your trip, but if you'll be departing from the fishing destination and not returning to the shop, we'll charge you before you depart. In the case of trips in which you will be meeting the guide in the field rather than at our shop, we will charge the credit card on file the day before the trip runs. Merchandise and licenses will be charged in a separate transaction from guide service. License fees paid via credit card will be assessed a 3% service charge to cover our credit card fees, since state and federal agencies do not pay us for license transactions.
All merchandise and guide service conducted between June 1 and September 30 is subject to Gardiner, MT local option tax. This tax is charged to the entire guide service fee, including the portion pre-paid via deposit. It does not apply to license fees.
Policies and common questions are discussed in much greater detail on our Guided Trips FAQ. This is just a quick rundown.
Other possible expenses may include the following, with the precise additional expenses depending on where and when we fish:
Whether you choose to fish with us or another outfitter, average gratuities for Montana fly fishing guides average $50 to $100 for half-day trips and $80 to $150 for full-day trips. Gratuities can be handled ahead of time via your preferred payment method if there's no other option, but cash at the end of each day of fishing for the guide you have that day is most certainly king. Note that gratuities average about the same amount whether you are fishing with the business owner (in this case Richard Parks) or a guide working on behalf of the business.
Richard Parks is Montana Outfitter #327 and Yellowstone Park CUA holder #13-037. Parks' Fly Shop operates under his licensure in Yellowstone National Park, the Yellowstone River Drainage upstream of Livingston, and the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. Walter J. Wiese is Montana Outfitter #22001. The shop operates under his licensure in the Yellowstone Drainage downstream of Livingston and in the entire Missouri River Drainage.
All text copyright Walter J. Wiese. Photos copyright Walter J. Wiese or the photographer. If you would like to use any of the content on this site for noncommercial purposes, you are welcome to do so provided you include this copyright notice and our contact information. Please do not use the information here for commercial purposes without written permission.
Website, text, and graphics by Walter J. Wiese. Photos generally by Walter J. Wiese unless noted.