The Jefferson River is an important part of a system of rivers that combine to form the majestic Missouri. Starting at the confluence of the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers near Twin Bridges, Montana, it winds 77 miles in a northeasterly fashion to Three Forks. Here, it meets with the Madison and Gallatin rivers that together converge into the Missouri River at the Missouri Headwaters State Park. Like so many other rivers in Montana, the Jefferson, named by Clark in honor of the U.S. President, runs deep with history. In fact, the Jefferson River is a segment of the larger Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, administered by our National Park Service.
When thinking about the Jefferson, a Class 1 river for recreational enjoyment, most observers view the river in three distinct sections. Characterized by slow, meandering flows, the upper third works its way through a broad, arid valley. Along this braided, 44 mile long floodplain, you will encounter working farms, dense cottonwood stands, flowered meadows and a variety of wildlife until you reach the town of Cardwell. Throughout the next 15 miles, its waters flow through a narrow, steep canyon where the water can be deep, slow and contained. As a result, the stretch from Cardwell to the Sappington Bridge has comparatively fewer trees, swamps, meadows and wildlife.
At Sappington Bridge the river once again becomes a circuitous, rambling river, rich in swamp life, colorful fields, large cottonwood groves and productive agricultural land. The presence of significant agriculture has resulted in competition for water use. During dry years, the river was tapped generously for irrigation, dropping water levels to the point where fish populations were adversely affected. Recent improvement in riparian management has tended to alleviate these issues. Primarily known as a brown trout river, rainbows, mountain whitefish, burbot and northern pike can also be found here. Less well known and less discovered, the Jefferson offers the opportunity to catch large fish in a scenic, un-crowded environment.
Beaverhead, Big Hole and Boulder Rivers
Twin Bridges, Montana, at confluence of Beaverhead, Big Hole and Ruby Rivers
Three Forks, Montana, at confluence of Missouri River
36 - 63 F
|Short pre-runoff season; by mid April large streamers draw large big browns in undercuts|
45 - 76 F
|Water clears; streamers, Golden Stones and nocturnal stonefly hatches|
22 - 43 F
|Water warms; banks line with grasshoppers|
17 - 39 F
Jefferson went from high and brown to low and mossy in the space of about two weeks. It's way to early for these conditions. Fish are still eating early but you picking up moss on ... moreevery cast even on dries. In my opinion the Jeff is out for now
The lower beaver head is starting to clear up at twin bridges, and so goes the Jefferson. We fished there two days ago and fishing was good. Nice part about the day was that we didn't ... moresee another angler all day. Water is still high but is clean. Fish were tight on the banks and in the soft recirculating pools. Fishing was on and off we would catch 3 nice fish then nothing for an hour. I saw some midnight stone empty cases on the bridge abutments which means dry fly fishing isn’t far off. Also saw some fish working caddis but we never switched over. Water is falling and the time is now! Eric Shores
Thursday, 16 Jun, 2016
- Transportation to the river and back from Ennis, Alder, Sheridan or Twin Bridges.
- Access to top of the line fishing equipment
- Wonderful streamside lunches
- Casting instruction
- Knot tying instruction
- Entomology lessons
- Learning how to "read the water"
- Beautiful 2-3 day float trip in pristine Montana
- All from a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide
This is our 2-3 day, personalized introduction to fly fishing. You will learn knots, fly selection, how to find where the fish are and soooo much more. Our guides have been fishing ... moreall of their lives, they know what their doing and are excited to share that knowledge with you! We offer this on the water, individualized, class in two and three day sessions. Besides another great day of fishing, the booking the three day intro will give you a chance to: ask more questions as you learn more and start knowing what questions to ask, see more of a variety of water and better learn to adjust your fishing to different situations, get a better understanding of bug life (entemology) and what part that plays in your fishing plans, as well as more intricate fishing knowledge from one of our professional and experienced guides. The rivers you learn this wonderful sport will be determined by the guide and where he/she thinks you will be most successful. However, if there is a certain river you would like to spend some time on, let us know and we are happy to accommodate.
- Montana Fly Fishing Guide
- Lodging (arrive the night prior to your first day on the water)
- Nightly 5 star dinnners, prepared by our Chef
- Daily Montana style fishermans breakfast
- Any needed gear and all of your flies
Montana’s Last Best Fly Fishing Lodge The Stonefly Inn and Outfitters is a privately owned Fly Fishing Lodge in rural Montana. No stop lights or tourist traps here – just countless ... moremiles of Blue Ribbon Trout Water, an overwhelming number of Trout and the occasional cattle drive. Because of our location, we often do not see the fishing pressure some of the other areas of the state have to deal with. In Twin Bridges, you can truly unwind and enjoy your Montana Fly Fishing Vacation along with the solitude and vastness of Southwest Montana. The days are longer, the fish are bigger and the beer is colder.
Here at The Stonefly, Dan “Rooster” Leavens and his entire staff of Montana Fly Fishing Guides are dedicated to providing you a Montana Fly Fishing Vacation that will leave you wanting to return year after year. Our average return ratio hovers around 95% season after season and Rooster goes out of his way to keep it that way.
A typical day at The Stonefly will start with breakfast with your Montana Fly fishing Guide before you head to one of our local rivers to fish. During the day, you can expect professional instruction while you employ seemingly endless techniques to catch fish. With so many rivers to pick from, each day is certain to be different. Returning to the lodge, you’ll find fresh appetizers in the Roost Lounge and take a little time to unwind and tell a fish story or two over a cocktail. Dinners are prepared by our in house chef, Glen Hornsby – a veteran chef of over 20 years in the fly fishing industry. Following dinner, nightly campfires are the norm complete with after dinner cocktails, joke telling, guitar picking and plenty of storytelling.
During your Montana Fly Fishing Vacation, you will always feel welcome at The Stonefly. You can count on professional instruction from your Montana Fly Fishing Guides, top shelf “Farm to Table” meals and courteous service from our staff. You have our word on it. Odds are, you’ll catch a few great fish while you are here as well!
Pricing based on double occupancy
Find out about the latest fishing action with our Jefferson River Fishing Report
Fishing, Camping, Picnicking, Hunting, Hiking, Wildlife Viewing, Photography, Group Use, Bicycling, Interpretive Programs, Amphitheater Events, Tours
Campground, Tent/RV Site, Tipi, Camp Host, Group Site, Cabin
Fire Ring, Grill, Picnic Table
Sanitation & Water:
Drinking Water, Toilet, Garbage Bins, Water (Pressurized), Showers