Featured FLY FISHING RIVERS
Southeast of Columbia Falls, the Middle Fork of the Flathead River is known wild cutthroats. The river starts just outside the Great Bear Wilderness Area, flows through deep gorges in the wilderness area, exits the wilderness near Essex and then merges with the North Fork near West Glacier.
Southwest of Butte near Melrose, the Big Hole River has a famous salmonfly hatch that is extraordinary for brown trout fishing. You can expect to find trophy-class rainbow trout and brown trout.
Southeast of Missoula and Clinton, the Rock Creek is an excellent rainbow trout and brown trout fishery. It is also known for its bull trout, cutthroat trout and brook trout. The Rock Creek starts at the confluence of the East Fork, Middle Fork and West Fork of the Rock Creek.
The Stillwater River offers excellent flyfishing opportunities. The Stillwater River begins in the mountains of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area where it runs for 20 miles. Upon leaving the wilderness area, the Stillwater River continues another 45 miles through canyon, forest and prairies on the way to the confluence with the Yellowstone River close to Columbus.
Northwest of St Mary and Babb, the Belly River is a scenic backcountry river that is remote and desolate. Expect to find bull trout, arctic grayling, brook trout and rainbow trout.
Near Bighorn and Fort Smith, the Bighorn River is considered by many as the best trout river in the Rockies. The Bighorn River is a tailwater fishery coming from Yellowtail Dam with over 5,000 fish per mile. While there are large rainbow trout, it is the plentiful brown trout up to 20 inches long that most fly fishermen are after.
The Gallatin River is known for its rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and brown trout. It starts in Yellowstone National Park and flows north for 100 miles to the confluence with the Missouri River. This yearround river runs through wide open meadows and canyons.
The Jefferson River is a less-popular, less-crowded fly fishing river known for its brown trout. It starts at the confluence of the Big Hole River and the Beaverhead River and flows about 25 miles to the town of Cardwell. It flows gently through meadows and farmland. At 200 feet wide on average, it can be waded or floated.
East of Columbia Falls, the McDonald Creek provides drainage for many creeks and lakes, including its namesake lake. Expect to find a range of trouts including rainbow, bull, cutthroat and brook.
Near Dillon, the Beaverhead River is known for plenty of large rainbow and brown trout. You can expect to land fish over 18 inches. The Beaverhead River has a very brushy shoreline, but this tailwater fishery from Clark Canyon Reservoir is work the effort.
The Bitterroot River has excellent fly fishing opportunities for all types of trout. The Bitterroot River runs 75 miles from the headwaters near Conner down to the confluence with the Clark River near Missoula. You can expect to find brook trout, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and brown trout as you move downstream in this classic dry fly fishery.
Northwest of Kalispell and east of Libby, the Kootenai River is a popular fly fishery known for rainbow trout and westslope cutthroat trout. The best section for fly fishing the Kootenai River is from Libby Dam down to Libby. It is best fly fished via drift boat.
The Blackfoot River is a classic fly fishing river with plenty of riffles, deep pools and beautiful scenery. Of course, there plenty of rainbow trout, brown trout and cutthroat trout to be found.