The Blackfoot may not be the world’s longest or most majestic river, but it is certainly well known. First made famous by Norman Maclean’s moving story, it became a permanent part of the American imagination with the 1992 release of Robert Redford’s legendary movie. A favorite for floaters, the river offers scenic diversity and variation in flows from placid meandering to white water rapids. Filled with large populations of Montana’s only two truly indigenous salmonids, the Cutthroats and Bull trout, it is also host to Rainbows, Cutbows, Browns and Mountain Whitefish throughout its entire length. The Blackfoot Valley is regarded as a fully intact ecosystem, still thought to contain every species of fauna present before the first Europeans arrived – one of only 12 such remaining ecosystems on earth.
Starting out a leisurely pace, the upper portion of the river runs slow and easy through narrow channels and dense forest. From there it flows into a large, open plain, and the first of many intermediate rapids start a few miles above the Scoot Brown Bridge. As it enters the Blackfoot River Recreation area, the speed picks up, but it is from Sperry Grade, five miles down from the Scotty Brown Bridge, that white water appears. For the next seven miles floaters are challenged with Class III rapids and sizeable waves that eventually ease off as you approach Bonner Dam.
The initial 22 miles of the river down to Lincoln, offer little to entice fly fishers. Best fished waded, the appearance of Brown trout begins to pick up on the stretch from Lincoln to Mineral Hill. While the section of river from Mineral Hill to Cedar Meadows looks short on a map, it actually consists of 18 miles of rugged twists and turns. The water is slow through here so inflatable kayaks and canoes are highly recommended. At about the halfway point of the river, the Barefoot gains velocity and continues with quick to moderate flows all the way down to Clark Fork. Wildlife is abundant here, home to grizzlies, elk, bighorn sheep, cougar, lynx, wolf and deer.
The Blackfoot river is a tributary of the Clark Fork River
|Spring||Season starts mid-March; dredging nymphs and steamers|
|Summer||Post runoff, Salmon Fly hatch; swollen waters yield 18” to 24” trophy Browns|
|Fall||Aggressive spawning yields big Blackfoot Browns; Giant Orange Sedge hatches|
|Winter||Clear water, low water levels, relatively cool 36 degrees or less, all fish present|
With the storm that has moved in and this being a cold part of Montana, you might want to try a different area. It will be warming up later on this week with sun in the forecast for ... moreSaturday and a high of 40 s. This could be a good fish day. I recommend Blue-winged Olives and streamers. You can also try a Red San Juans for occasional trout. Give it another month or so and the Trout will be more active on the springs.
Tuesday, 15 Dec, 2015
It is cold this time of year in this part of Montana. Be careful and watch for the ice. Make sure to find a steady spot to wade fish. This river has begun the winter fishing mode. ... moreIf it warms up you can try midges but if it stays cold, you will get the most productivity out of nymphing. Consider using an indicator or double nymphing. Inside the seams seems to be the most productive. Streamers have been working as well.
Tuesday, 1 Dec, 2015
The Big Blackfoot River, made famous in the movie “A River Runs Thru It,” is a gravel bottom, boulder-strewn “Freestone” river running from the Continental Divide near Lincoln, down ... morethru the Blackfoot Valley where it joins the Clark Fork River at Bonner, Montana.
This is one of the most beautiful, scenic rivers in Montana and it is hard to keep your eyes on your fly when you’re surrounded by breathtaking scene of pine forests and towering cliffs.
And the fishing? Awesome! Even first time beginners enjoy great success, as the aggressive West slope Cutthroat is not as finicky as some trout. The prolific hatches of huge Salmon Flies, Golden Stones, big Mayflies, Caddis, and a smorgasbord of terrestrial insects work these opportunistic feeders into a fly-grabbing frenzy.
Most fishing is done from a raft using big dry flies on a short line in fast, broken, gin-clear water filled with Rainbows, Browns, and the huge Bull Trout, better known as Dolly Varden.
Find out about the latest fishing action with our Blackfoot River Fishing Report
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