Name
Filter
Sort By:   
Showing 1 - 20
 
out of 140
On the left map, we grouped Fishing Water Reports that are located close to each other into small circles. Now, you can locate all Fishing Water Reports on the map at the same time. You can also drag & zoom the map.

Circle numbers - Count of Fishing Water Reports that are located in and around that circle.

Colored circles - Fishing Water Reports that are displayed in the list below.

Grey circles - Fishing Water Reports that are displayed on next page(s).

Half colored circles - Some Fishing Water Reports in that circle appear in the list below and some on next page(s).

Click on circles to zoom in or highlight Fishing Water Reports .
page 1 out of 7
 (5)
The Madison River is arguably one of the best trout fishing rivers in all of southwest Montana, if not the entire world! It’s certainly the most talked over, written up and frequented ... morein the state of Montana – which is considered by some the capital of fly fishing. Anglers will find plenty of great access sites to wade or float along the Madison’s banks and reservoirs (including Hebgen Lake and Ennis Lake). Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, and more abound in this majestic fishing stream.

The Madison begins its course almost twenty miles into Yellowstone National Park. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and catch and release only. Once outside the Park the river meanders past working ranches, stately conifer forests and cottonwood lined banks, interrupted by riffles and quiet runs that contain large rainbow and trophy brown trout. Flowing alongside Yellowstone’s West entrance road, the river enters Hebgen Lake, created by Hebgen dam, until it reaches Quake Lake, a bit downstream from the dam. At this point the river is commonly called either the Upper Madison or the Lower Madison, although in fact, they are one and the same.

Upper Madison – Quake Lake to Ennis Lake
Directly below Quake Lake the river roars into 5 long miles of Class V whitewater with steep gradients and large boulders along the way. As the rapids decline, the magic begins. For the next 53 miles, often referred to as the 50 Mile Riffle, the cold river runs north and the fish jump high. Annual runs of spawning trout make their way from Hebgen Lake, rainbows in the spring and browns in the fall. Known the world over for its “hard fighting” trout, it’s not unusual to pull a 25” brown from these upper waters. In deference to the purists and fly-fishing enthusiasts, it’s wading only from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge. Boats may be used to access the river, but if you’re going to fish, your feet must be on the riverbed. Fortunately, the Hebgen Dam releases water throughout the year, leveling its flows and relieving it of spring runoff issues and summer shrinkage.

Lower Madison – Ennis Lakes to Three Forks
A short section of the river between Ennis Dam and the power station maintains relatively low water levels and provides wonderful opportunities for wading. Past the power station the river regains its muscle and for 7 miles winds through Bear Trap Canyon. Hiking trails offer the only entry, great for those that like to walk and seek the solitude of a designated wilderness area. Floating is permitted but requires a lengthy shuttle and the ability to work through Class III-IV whitewater. Once out of the canyon the river flows in shallow riffles until it reaches Three Forks and joins the Missouri. From Warm Springs to Greycliff, the river is easily accessible for drifters and wading.
 (3)
The Big Hole River starts in the Beaverhead Mountains south of Jackson, Montana and flows on for about 156 miles. Beginning as a slight stream, it picks up muscle as it joins with ... morethe North Fork, and draws more volume as it passes through the Wise River basin. At the Continental Divide it changes its northeasterly direction and heads southeast until it joins the Beaverhead and forms the Jefferson River close to the town of Twin Bridges, Montana. It hosts one of the last known habitat for the native fluvial artic grayling but is best known to fly fishers for its trout.

Like so many Montana rivers, the Big Hole is as full of history as it is of water. When Lewis and Clark stumbled upon it, the river was providing a buffer zone between rival Indian tribes vying for land as they sagely anticipated the westward push of European miners, furriers and settlers. Fifty years later, a significant number of the Nez Percé, a tribe that had initially befriended the Expedition, refused to accept life on a reservation and were nearly wiped out by U.S. troops in the Battle of the Big Hole. Today’s battles consist of quarrels between ranchers who desire water for irrigation and recreational users who wish to see the water preserved.

Fishing the river can be basically divided into three sections. From the headwaters at Skinner Lake to Fish Trap, the river meanders slowly through high meadowlands. This is where the few remaining artic grayling can be found, although browns and rainbows are in abundance here. In the second section, Fish Trap to Melrose, you will find boulders and pocket water rushing through a narrow canyon; here rainbows outnumber the browns with an estimated 3000 fish per mile. The final section, Melrose to Twin Bridges, is lined with cottonwood bottoms, braided channels and long, slow pools. In contrast to the second link, browns outnumber rainbows 2 to 1 with approximately 3000 fish per mile.
 (4)
The Beaverhead is a nearly 70 mile long tributary of the Jefferson River. Its original course has changed due to the construction of the Clark Canyon Dam, as have its headwaters, once ... moreformed by the confluence of the Red Rock River and Horse Prairie Creek. These rivers, along with the first 6 miles of the Beaverhead, are now flooded as a result of the reservoir project. Today, the Beaverhead flows through a wide valley where it meets the Big Hole River and forms the Jefferson River. The river is well known for its clear, blue-green color, narrow, winding turns, willow-lined, undercut banks and thriving insect life that attracts fish.

The origin of its colorful name can be traced back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, when their indigenous guide, Sacajawea, recognized a large rock formation in the middle of the river known to her as the Beaver’s Head. According to Lewis, this indicated to her that they were close to the summer retreat of her Indian nation. On August 15, 1805 the party reached her tribe, where one of her remaining brothers, Cameahwait, Chief of the Shoshone, provided crude maps, food and horses, making it possible to continue the Expedition through the mountains. On their return trip Lewis gave the river, once full of beavers, the name it now holds.

Fortunately, floating the Beaverhead in today’s world is much easier, more fun and amply rewarding. It is widely considered one of Montana's premier Brown trout fishing rivers, producing more large trout, particularly Brown trout, than any other river in the state. Due to its abundance of large trout, fly fishing the stretch near Dillon, from Clark Canyon Dam to Barrett’s Dam and through to Twin Bridges, tends to be very popular and get can crowded, even although the fish can also be hard to catch. While large fish can be caught with dry flies, it is primarily a nymph fishing river along with a swiftly moving current, so expect to be constantly mending your line.
 (2)
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 ... moreBridges, 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.
 (2)
Ruby is the perfect name for this river, for it is a largely hidden, sparkling gem. Its crystal clear waters begin in the pristine Beaverhead National Forest in southwest Madison County, ... morebetween the Snowcrest Mountains and the Gravelly range. While it starts as a rather thin trickle, it picks up more than a dozen mountain, freestone creeks, and gains velocity as it flows for 40 miles past Alder and into the Ruby Reservoir. Past Alder, the river runs north between the beautiful Tobacco Root Mountains to the northeast and the Ruby Range to the southwest. Nestled in the quaint Ruby Valley, the river is conveniently located a mere thirty minutes from Ennis and a lovely one-hour drive from Bozeman. Like many other rivers in this region, the Ruby is small at only 76 miles in length, but it is full of surprisingly large fish.

Leaving Alder, the Ruby exits the reservoir as a tailwater and supports abundant midge, caddis, and Pale Morning Dun (PMD) hatches. For a short time the river passes through a scenic, arid canyon before abruptly transitioning into a meandering open agricultural valley. At this point the Ruby runs over vast swaths of private land, sometimes making access difficult. The 40 mile descent from Alder to Twin Bridges also crosses over high-end ranch properties, where again, access can be challenging although public access points do exist and can be easily located.

The river is open year round to fishing and conditions are good through all seasons. Springtime on the Ruby brings hatches of baetis and early season caddis. When the water warms in summer, the river will explode with Yellow Sallies and Pale Morning Duns (PMDs), along with hoppers and other terrestrials. Late summer and early fall is considered by many to be the best time to fish, as clouds settle in the high mountain valley providing fast paced action for the streamer enthusiast. Running a nymph rig subsurface, or using a dry/dropper combo is the best technique on the Ruby throughout the year.

Fish will jump for hoppers during the late summer months, while streamer-fishing can very satisfying throughout the summer and early fall. A predominantly brown trout fishery, the Ruby is full of trophies that often reach 18 – 20 inches. The greatest numbers of rainbow trout are found in the first few miles of the river just below the dam. If you seek a unique opportunity, the upper portions of the Ruby rumored to hold rare cutthroat trout and arctic grayling.
 (1)
Maclean’s famous story, A River Runs Through It, is set on the now famous Blackfoot River. Despite this, Robert Redford’s 1992 movie version was largely filmed on the Gallatin as he ... morefelt the scenery and fishing were more cinematic. The river originates high in the mountains of the Gallatin Range inside Yellowstone National Park and flows for 115 miles until it intersects with the beginning of the Missouri River at Three Forks. Inside the Park, where it runs for more than 25 miles, floating is not allowed and there are restrictions on fishing. Once it exits the park, it crosses a forty-mile expanse of mostly public lands, and runs parallel to a highway that makes it quite accessible. Because the river is narrow for much of its run, float fishing is restricted from Yellowstone Park to the confluence with the East Gallatin River. No wonder this river has a great reputation for wade fishing!

Unimpeded by dams, the river provides consistent, easily waded flows from mid-summer through mid-spring. Rainbows predominate with an estimated 1400, 8+ inch, fish per mile from the West Fork confluence at Big Sky to the mouth of the canyon. Browns are abundant accompanied by occasional cutthroats, brook trout, white fish and graylings. New to the lower most band of the river are northern pike. Never known for trophy trout, the river offers excellent dry fly fishing and beautiful surroundings. Since the fish are recognized as indiscriminate eaters, the Gallatin has come to be known as an excellent river for those learning to fly fish.

Like much of Montana, the River played a significant role in the state’s history. First explored by Native American hunters, by the early 1900’s, the area eventually became known to fur-trappers and gold prospectors. By the turn of the twentieth century logging rose in importance to the local economy as loggers famously rode the logs down river to prevent them from jamming. The towns of Bozeman and Three Forks are most closely associated with the River although given the importance of Maclean’s legacy, Livingston should also be considered as part of its history and heritage.
 (2)
Scenic, beautiful and rich in history, this northeasterly flowing river is thought to have acquired its name from the Minnetaree Indians whom were struck by the unique, yellow-colored ... moresandstone lining the river’s lower bluffs. Translated by early French trappers as Roche Jaune, {Yellow Rock} the river kept this moniker until Lewis and Clark recorded their translation into Yellow Stone, a name that took hold and remains today. The river may be better known in history as an escape route after General Custer and his 7thCalvary, were soundly defeated by the Lakota Indians at the Battle of Bighorn. The few remaining survivors were ferried down the Yellowstone to Fort Abraham Lincoln along the Missouri River.

Today, the awe-inspiring river is closely associated with the Wyoming based Yellowstone National Park and the other great recreational fishing rivers that cluster within the southwestern corner of Montana. The Yellowstone itself is officially classed as a Blue Ribbon stream in Montana, from the Park to its confluence with the Boulder River east of Livingston and from the Rosebud Creek to the North Dakota border, and is the longest undammed river in the lower 48. The absence of dams along the river results in favorable habitat for trout from high inside the Park, downstream to Gardiner, the Paradise Valley, Livingston and to Big Timber, a length of nearly 200 miles.

Many consider the area around Paradise Valley to be the most favorable in Montana, especially near Livingston. Here you can expect to lure brown trout, rainbow trout and native yellowstone cutthroat trout as well as rocky mountain whitefish. Further along, from Billings to the North Dakota border, burbot, channel catfish, paddlefish, sauger, smallmouth bass, walleye and the occasional pallid sturgeon can be found. The section of the river from Mallard’s Rest to Carter’s Bridge is known both for its magnificent scenery and abundant fishing. Here you will find yourself in the midst of snow-capped mountains, the Absaroka to the east and the Gallatin to the west, and a landscape dotted with elk, fox and other wildlife. You’ll also discover meandering streams and creeks that flow into the Yellowstone. Many, such as the DePuy Spring Creek, are highly ranked, and like the main river, are full of rainbow and brown trout.
 (1)
The Clark Fork River has its headwaters in the Silver Bow (or Highland) Mountains, originating at the confluence of Silver Bow and Warm Springs creeks near Anaconda, Montana. The river ... moreflows north and west 350 miles through broad, semi-arid valleys, high mountain ranges, and steep-sided valleys and terminates in Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho. The Upper Clark Fork, bordered on the north by the Garnet Range and on the south by the Flint Creek Range, meanders most of its first 38 miles through the flat plains of the Deer Lodge Valley. Vegetation is sparse, due partly to the effects of the mining boom, the greatest historical influence in the Upper Basin.

Downstream from the mouth of the Little Blackfoot River, the river flows through a steep, narrow canyon. Between Garrison and Jens the river channel has been shortened by highway and railroad construction activities, but past Jens the Clark Fork meanders away from the transportation corridor and native trees and shrubs appear along its banks. From below Flint Creek the river runs 26 miles through Bearmouth Canyon to emerge and widen to 150 feet for its confluence with the Blackfoot River. The Middle Clark Fork River extends about 115 river miles from Missoula to its confluence with the Flathead River and is entirely free flowing. Its drainage is mountainous and covered with large forested tracts, broken by grazing and cropland areas in the lower valleys.

From Thompson Falls Dam, its upper boundary, the Lower Clark Fork River flows through sedimentary formations and a landscape sculptured by the massive outflows of glacial Lake Missoula. It runs into Cabinet Gorge Dam, just outside the Montana border. Between the backwaters of Cabinet Gorge and the tailwaters of Thompson Falls Dam the river is inundated by Noxon Rapids Dam. When the Clark Fork crosses the Idaho border, it is Montana's largest river, carrying an average 22,060 cubic feet of water per second.
 (1)
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 ... moreof 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.
 (1)
Despite pressures from developers, ranchers and farmers, the Bitterroot, a Class 1 river, remains a haven for fly fishers. Flowing through the scenic Bitterroot Valley, the river is ... moreoften referred to as the “banana belt” of Montana, famous for its year round mild climate. Although the river tends to flow through populated areas and is located within the fastest growing area of the state, it’s still possible to see a wide array of animals along its banks including waterfowl, osprey, bald eagles, heron, white deer and mule deer. Wildlife is especially abundant within the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, located between Stevensville and Florence.

Like other rivers in Montana, this too has an interesting history. Bitterroot Valley was the ancestral home of the Salish Indians, more commonly known as the Flatheads. The area acquired its name from a plant (later to become Montana’s state flower) that the Salish cultivated and counted on as a major source of food. Father DeSmet, a Jesuit priest, established St. Mary’s Mission here in 1841, and a few years later sold it to John Owen. Owen opened a trading post that over time became Montana’s first permanent, European based settlement, eventually growing into the town of Stevensville. Throughout the remainder of the 19th century, trees were harvested and the river was used to carry logs downstream to Missoula as well as used to support a wide array of agricultural products. Now, aside from sub-divisions, alfalfa is nearly the riverside’s exclusive crop.

Famous for its prodigious insect hatches, the Bitterroot teems with trout. The river carries about 1000 trout per mile, twice that of most similar size rivers, including rainbows, browns and a healthy population of native west-slope, cutthroat trout. This insect rich environment is attributed to the Sapphire Range’s calcium rich, feeder streams that join the Bitterroot and give rise to a large menu of stoneflies, mayflies and caddis. For anyone that might be interested, the river also supports northern pike and largemouth bass in some of its slower moving, backwater currents. A mere 75 miles long, the river passes through several towns including Darby, Hamilton, Corvallis, Victor, Stevensville, Florence, Lolo, ending at Missoula where it combines with the Clark Fork River.
 (2)
Given its association with transport, commerce and business development, it’s easy to forget that there remain parts of the Missouri set aside for fishing, boating and enjoying nature’s ... morebounty. From source to mouth, it is the longest river in North America, over 2, 341 miles. The river’s watershed consists of over a million square miles and includes parts of 10 American states and 2 Canadian provinces. When combined with the lower Mississippi, it is the 4th longest river in the world. Whew! That’s a lot to take in. But, if you’re a fly fisher in Montana, the only section of the Missouri you really need to know about is a tiny, 40 mile, stretch downstream of Holter Dam, near the towns of Wolf Creek, Craig and Cascade and not far from the city of Helena. This is the “Blue Ribbon” trout section of the Missouri.

Water released from Holter Dam keep this section the river at a fairly consistent level, helping to maintain cool temperatures year round. Some guides describe the river here as a gigantic spring creek surrounded by weed beds with long riffles, great banks and undercuts that provide ideal habitat for the river’s substantial trout population. By substantial, we’re talking 3,500 to 5,500 fish per mile on a yearly basis – and many of these exceed 16 inches! The first ten miles of the river from Holter Dam to Craig tend to have the largest number of hatches resulting in the highest concentration of fish.

In this “gigantic spring” part of the river, rainbow trout outnumber browns by a ratio of 6:1. In addition, stable populations of burbot and stonecats live below the dam. As a bonus, the reservoir is surrounded by the Beartooth Wildlife Management Area as well as three other designated nature preserves and wilderness set-asides. Look up and there’s a good chance you’ll spot a bald eagle, various types of falcon, red-tail hawks, osprey and golden eagles – you may even get a chance to see them snatch a fish from the water. Shore side it’s not unusual to sight bighorn sheep, elk, and mountain goats. This may be an area small in size but its large in its grandeur and many offerings.
 (1)
High in the Absaroka Mountains in the Beartooth Wilderness, the Rock Creek River springs to life and continues flowing for more than 55 miles until it reaches its confluence with the ... moreClarks Fork River. The river’s initial journey is dominated by dense, pristine forests and soaring, snow-capped mountains. After a short distance of about 15 miles, the river passes by the town of Red Lodge where the landscape opens onto soft, hilly pastureland. As is true with many rivers in this part of Montana, its banks are lined with thick stands of majestic cottonwood trees, tall reeds and wooly brush. As a result of Rock Creek’s original elevation, and that of the rivers that flow into it, the river maintains trout friendly, cool temperatures throughout most of the year.

Famous for its trout, the mountain stretch of the river is most likely to yield small cutthroat and brook trout that can be brought in with a variety of dry flies. Despite the gorgeous scenery and dependable fishing, with the exception of summer weekend campers, this part of the river is rarely congested. Larger browns, rainbow and bull trout are more likely found below the town of Red Lodge. This is an excellent place for those who prefer wading to floating; the river tends to be narrow and shallow enough to easily navigate on foot.

Most experts agree that float fishing Rock Creek is difficult and probably not worth the effort. The combination of sharp turns, narrow passages and low water through summer months, arguably make floating a bad choice. But for those willing to wade, Rock Creek generously rewards anglers with ample fish throughout the year. The river is particularly giving in late June and early July during the salmon fly hatch, although many who know the river well will dispute that. Those most familiar with Rock Creek say the best fishing can be found downstream in the early months of fall. That’s when the super-sized, aggressive browns and rainbows spawn and swim from Clark Fork and pour into the Rock Creek. Then you can get out your streamers and net in fish averaging 13” to 18” long. Some of the best fishing access sites to do this include Water Birch Fishing Access, Bull Springs, Beaver Lodge, and Horse Thief Station.
 (2)
Where does this river begin? This question remained unanswered well into the 19th century. In fact, the Wind River and the Bighorn River are one body of water artificially divided ... moreby two names. Because the river’s course is largely set by the surrounding mountain ranges, The Wind River Range that extends southeast to northwest along the continental divide and the Bighorn Range that rises east of Shoshoni and curves north to Montana, the river changes direction and appearance more than once during its long journey. Overhearing Native Americans describe this basin, mountain men, adventurers and mapmakers just assumed they were talking about different rivers. 

Today the Bighorn River arbitrarily starts at the end of Wind River Canyon at a spot known as the Wedding of the Waters near the town of Thermopolis. From Thermopolis to about 20 miles below the Wind River Canyon, the river runs cold enough to support ample trout, with the best fishing actually beginning on the Wind River below the Boysen Reservoir, 15 miles upstream. Roadside access to this year round, world-class destination is unlimited as long as you obtain a Wind River Indian Reservation fishing permit.

One of the vagaries of Wyoming law is that landowners can own and control access to shorelines and riverbeds, making it illegal for anglers to wade or anchor in private water. Thankfully, most of the Bighorn River around Thermopolis is owned by the town, which provides many points of public access. You’ll be fine with the law if you wade upstream or down, as long as you stay below the high-water mark. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has designated several fishing access points and easements over private lands to provide public use of the river.
The Flathead River represents the combined flow of hundreds of headwater creeks funneled from the glacial cirques of Glacier National Park and other wild places within the U.S. and ... moreCanada. This cold, clear water flows into the North, South and Middle forks of the Flathead, which merge together near Columbia Falls to begin a southward journey. Portions of the upper mainstem Flathead River are classified as 'Recreational' within the Wild and Scenic River Classification system.

About 20 miles into its journey, after flowing down the gentle, south-sloping gradient of the Flathead Basin floor, the river empties into Flathead Lake. The lower mainstem Flathead River drains from the southwest corner of the lake and draws waters from an arid valley basin throughout its 75-mile course. The Flathead River finally empties into the Clark Fork River at Paradise. 

The Flathead River System offers hundreds of miles of pristine waterways, while Flathead Lake is a scenic and recreational mecca. A diversity of fish and wildlife complement the land and water resources, and contribute to both the natural and cultural values of the Flathead Basin environment.
The Smith River is nationally one of the most well known streams in the U.S., in large part because of the unique experience it offers. For visitors from all over Montana and across ... morethe country lucky enough to draw float permits, the Smith River float, with access to a 59-mile stretch of river only at its upper and lower ends, holds a pristine adventure. The river begins its 121-mile journey near the town of White Sulphur Springs where the North and South forks of the Smith merge. For much of its course, the mainstem runs through a broad valley between the Big Belt Mountains on the west and the Little Belt and Castle Mountains on the east.

From Camp Baker, the upper public access point to the canyon, the Smith carries rafters and canoers through a deep, rock-walled passage with great fishing, floating, and boat camping. Emerging at the canyon's lower end, the stream meanders on through rolling grass-covered hills until it reaches the Missouri, near Ulm.
 (1)
Jackson is the ideal hub for exploring the Snake River, a surging, full spirited river that provides a direct connection between Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National ... morePark. The setting is breathtakingly beautiful – jagged peaks jutting into the sky while the river and its maze of channels and tributaries “snake” their way through the verdant, lush valley. Important to early explorers seeking passage west, the Pacific and Atlantic Creeks reach the Continental Divide at Two Ocean Pass near Jackson and part ways. The Atlantic Creek turns east, merges into the Yellowstone River and eventually flows into the Missouri while the Pacific Creek turns west and merges into the Snake, becoming the largest tributary of the Columbia, eventually reaching the ocean.

Known for its own unique trout, the Snake River finespotted cutthroat can only be found in the waters around the Jackson Hole valley. Considered by experts to have once been the only trout species in the Western interior, it has evolved into 14 different subspecies. To this day, its native range is limited to the upper Snake from Heart Lake to the Palisades Reservoir. Despite the finespotted’s hearty, undiscerning appetite and a seeming willingness to eat just about anything, experienced anglers view this fish as the most aggressive, hardest fighting trout to snare. As a result, when you catch one you earn major bragging rights. 

The most heavily fished areas of the Snake’s run through western Wyoming are the 35 miles in the park between Jackson Dam and the 17 remaining miles flowing through Jackson Hole. This section of the river is ranked as one of the best dry-fly streams in the West. Snake enthusiasts recommend floating the river although newcomers are advised to only go with a guide and veterans are reminded to exercise caution, as the water can be turbulent and unpredictable. Should you decide to wade, be mindful of swift currents along undercut banks and stick to quiet, shallow river sections and side channels. Great stream fishing can be found at Gros Ventre River and Flat Creek.
If you like to fish for steelhead, and the Clearwater is best known for them, then you already know your ABC’s. Steelheads are classified as A-run or B-run fish depending on their ... moresize, spawning habits and time spent in the ocean. More precisely, they are rainbow trout that venture to the Pacific and back to fresh water. A-runs typically appear in Idaho early in the season, from June through August, most often spend only one year in salt water, and return to the Snake and Salmon Rivers. B-runs usually return to the Clearwater River although some do migrate to the Salmon. Because B-runs spend at least 2 years in the ocean they tend to be much larger, weighing in at 10-13 pounds and 31-34 inches long, compared with the A-runs that register around 4-6 pounds and are generally only 23-26 inches long.

Not surprisingly, the fly fishing seasons on the River are divided according to the A and B runs, and while the A’s tend to be smaller they are reputed to be aggressive and capable of putting up a hard, long fight. For those in pursuit of larger quarry, you’ll have to move upstream along with the fish throughout their season. Because Clearwater B-Run steelhead are the largest in the lower 48, anglers are happy to make this trek, coming from around the globe to try their luck and test their fly fishing acumen. As the river winds its way from coniferous forests to scrappy desert, the water mysteriously manages to remain clear, rarely affected by erosion or runoff, making it stable and highly predictable and thus easier to master after repeated visits. 

The town of Orofino is a great base for fishing the Clearwater with a nice selection of hotels, motels, ranches, lodges and neighboring campgrounds for anyone who desires a genuine, outdoor experience. Just across the river is the Dworskak Reservoir where there’s great fishing for kokanee, bass and other trout. Water sports are welcome within the Reservoir where you can jet ski, rent a power-boat or take out a quiet floater, canoe or kayak. Winter sports include skiing, hunting and snowmobiling, all within a short distance of downtown.

Things to Know

The Clearwater River in north-central Idaho is renowned for outstanding fishing for B-run steelhead and chinook salmon, and to a lesser extent, native cutthroat trout in the summer. In the fall, the steelhead season kicks in with catch-and-release fishing in September, and then catch-and-keep from October to the end of April. B-run steelhead in the Clearwater average 12-14 pounds, but many of them go higher, in the 20-pound range.

During May and September, when the weather is cooler, dress warmly or in layers. It is always cooler in the morning.

During the warmer months, June through mid-September, the typical attire is shorts, t-shirts and sports sandals.

Bring along water, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Be prepared to get wet and dress according to your comfort level.

Wear clothes that dry quickly and perhaps steer away from denim pants or shorts and leather footwear.

Life jackets are provided on outfitted trips.
Game Fish Opportunities:
Scenic and wild, the Little Salmon River is a tributary of the Salmon River which is the longest free-flowing river (425 miles) within one state in the lower 48. Resident species are ... moreBull Trout, Westslope Cutthroat, and Rainbows.

Things to Know

Fish species in the Little Salmon River: Steelhead, Chinook Salmon, and Rainbow. Consult the Idaho Fish & Game regulations for seasons, limits, and Special Rules for the region.

Any person 14 years of age or older must have a valid license or permit to fish in Idaho. Resident children under 14 years of age need not be licensed and may have their own separate limit. Nonresident children under 14 years of age if not licensed, must be accompanied by the holder of a valid fishing license and their fish must be included in the license holder's limit or the child may purchase their own license and have their own limit.
 (1)
The Big Wood River, which is fed from the mountains to the north of the Snake River Plain, cuts through 0.8 m.y. old basalt in an area north and east of Shoshone, Idaho. ... more

Be ready for hard fighting, healthy wild trout! There is no stocking on the main Big Wood River which runs for 137 miles in central Idaho.

Team up with a local outfitter to help you create the perfect cast and amazing memories in this breathtaking location. Located in central Idaho, it is a tributary of the Malad River.
Fly fishers who seek to get far from the maddening crowd should consider the Clark’s Fork, as it offers ample fish, scenic beauty and alluring solitude. The river makes its grand entrance ... moreinto Wyoming from Montana through a rift in the jagged, glaciated Absaroka Mountains. Surrounded by soaring, snow-capped peaks, the river is bounded by the Beartooth Mountains to the northeast and the rugged Sawtooth Mountains to the southeast. Running for over 60 miles through the state, its upper waters are full of Yellowstone cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout while grayling and brown trout can be found below the famous Canyon section as the river makes its way back to Montana.

Designated as Wyoming’s first Wild and Scenic River, it flows through verdant, conifer forests, a stunning, 20 mile-long Canyon area, and open farm and ranch lands. The river descends from 8,500 feet at its headwaters near Cooke City to less than 3,000 at its northeastern crossing at the state line. The spectacular canyon portion of the river is as popular with hikers, kayakers and river rafters as it is with fishermen. Adventurers around the globe come here to experience its Class IV to Class VI rapids.

Technically the river is open year-round for fishing although the Colter and Beartooth passes are usually blocked by snow until late May. Public access can be gained from the highways that parallel most of the upper river through the Shoshone National Forest and anglers can, with a few exceptions, stop and fish at their leisure. Much of the lower river runs through private land although the Wyoming Game and Fish manage 4 public access points making it possible to enjoy fishing in these waters. Spring runoff can continue through June, sometimes even into mid-July, and then tends to remain steady from late summer and well into September.

Fishing Reports

Get up to date information on fishing conditions . Learn about water flows, fish species, and current weather. Download maps and locate fishing access sites . Discover the best guided fly fishing trips . Plan a fishing trip today.

Fishing Trip Resources