The Bitterroot River
The Bitterroot is our home river here in western Montana, and we spend more days on it then any other due to the fact it is our most diverse and consistent producing river. It has one of the longest dry fly fishing seasons anywhere in North America, as we usually enjoy up to 7 months per year of rising trout and prolific hatches. This river offers a little bit of everything. The upper Bitterroot gives you the opportunity to be able to throw big attractor dry flies all day long to opportunistic cutthroats, while the middle and lower river gives you the opportunity to pick off pods of rising browns and rainbows. As many of our long-time clients will tell you, the Bitterroot is truly a dry fly fisherman’s paradise, and a river that will keep you coming back year after year.
**Best Dry Fly Months: March, April, June, July, August, September, October
The Blackfoot River
Originally made famous by the film and novel “A River Runs Through it”, the Blackfoot is one of the most scenic trout rivers found anywhere in the country. Its limestone cliffs, enormous boulders, and deep emerald pools provide a stunning backdrop to a great day of fishing. But this river isn’t just about the scenery. The Blackfoot is one of the best trout fishing rivers in Montana, and offers some incredible flyfishing to BIG native and wild trout. June and July are great months to be on the Blackfoot, as we see extremely prolific Salmonfly and Golden Stonefly hatches. Giant Browns, Rainbows, and Cutthroats come to the surface to destroy these huge bugs, and we catch some of the biggest fish of the year during this time. The Blackfoot is also the best area river for streamer fishing. Fall is the best time to strip streamers for big fish, putting on the feed before winter. The Blackfoot offers the best chance to hook into native Bull Trout that can push over 30 inches.
**Best Dry Fly Months: June, July, August
The Clark Fork River
The Clark Fork is western Montana’s largest river and is arguably the most underrated trout fishery in all of Montana. Its upper stretches east of Missoula offer opportunities to tons of aggressive Brown Trout lying underneath grassy banks, while its lower stretches west of Missoula offer technical dry fly fishing to rising rainbows and cutthroats that average 15-19 inches. During the spring and fall, we see prolific mayfly hatches that seemingly bring up every fish in the river to the surface. Once you hook into a Clark Fork Rainbow, you will quickly realize that these are some of the hardest fighting and strongest fish in Montana. If you are looking to fish dry flies to rising fish during the autumn months in Montana, this is your river!
**Best Dry Fly Months: April, June, July, August, September, October.
The Missouri River
Known as the “MO” to our guides and locals, the Missouri River is an exceptional broad tail-water fishery. With trout averaging 16-20 inches and an extraordinary fish count per mile, the mighty MO offers famous some of the most diverse and challenging dry-fly fishing. Most of our clients head over to the MO during run-off in May, but the Missouri River is fishable almost year round, with the best dry fly fishing between April and October. The MO also provides anglers the opportunity to fish nymphs and streamers, which can be handy for beginning anglers. From late March through May, midges and blue-winged olives will be the primary hatch. Caddis typically arrive in early May through June and then come back around in July through the fall along with the Tricos. Grasshoppers, ants and beetles are in full swing come August with Blue-Winged Olive and October Caddis rounding out the end of the season.
**Best Dry Fly Months: April, May, June, July, August, September, October
Montana's premier blue ribbon trout stream, Rock Creek is a fisherman's paradise. Flowing over 52 miles, starting high up in the Pintlar mountain range of southwest Montana to its confluence with the Clark Fork near Missoula. This river is amazing for float fishing with big dry flies, such as Salmonflies and goldenstones throughout the month of June. Absolutely prolific hatches are seen this time of year on “the Creek”. In fact, many experienced Montana anglers will tell you that a June float on Rock Creek is one of their favorite days each year. Then, starting in July 1st, Rock Creek is a wade-only stream, and it might just be the best wading river in Montana. Boasting an extremely rich bug and hatch life throughout the summer, complimented with a blue ribbon population of wild trout, Rock Creek is a western Montana fishing option that needs to be on everyone’s list.
**Best Dry Fly Months: May, June, July
Local Fishing Seasons
During March and April we see the emergence of our first big hatch of the year - the skwala stonefly. After being dormant for the winter months, the trout are on the feed and we see some of our biggest fish of the year caught on dry flies during this time. Western Montana is one of the few places in North America where you can throw size 10 dry flies in March and April to rising trout! This is truly some of the best fishing of the year! We also see great mayfly hatches of grey drakes, march browns, and blue wing olives during this time frame.
Weather: Highs in the 40s and 50s, lows in the 30s and 40s. Waders recommended.
There is no more classic time to fly fish for trout in Montana than in the summertime. In June our rivers explode with Stonefly hatches. The famous Salmonfly is the first to pop in early June, followed by Golden Stones, yellow sallies, and Bitterroot Stones. As we near the end of June, Green Drakes and PMDs round out an all out smoargasboard of insects for our trout. We see the plethora of stonefly and mayfly hatches last into mid-July, and then we start to transition to terrestrial fishing. Great grasshopper and ant fishing happens from mid-July until early- September. During this time period we also experience the one of the best Spruce Moth hatches in the West.
Weather: Highs in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, lows in the 60s and 70s. Waders not recommended.
In September the days start getting significantly shorter and cooler. Mayfly hatches will return to our rivers at this time and provide the angler the opportunty to present dry flies to rising fish. Hecubas, Mahagonies, and Blue Wing Olives all will be on the water. Fall offers some of the best fishing of the year, and also very unpressured rivers, as the summer crowds are gone. It is also the most beautiful time of year to be on the river as the riverbottoms come alive with color.
Weather: Highs in the 50s and 60s, lows in the 40s and 50s. Waders recommended.