From its headwaters on the west side of the Continental Divide near the town of Lincoln to its confluence with the Clark Fork River near Missoula, the Blackfoot River offers 75 miles of quintessential Montana trout water.
Featured in Norman Maclean’s 1976 novella “A River Runs Through It” and popularized by Robert Redford’s 1992 film adaptation of the story, the Blackfoot River has battled through some tough times and has rebounded to become one of the most popular rivers in Montana.
While the river suffered from the adverse effects of mining and logging in the past, the film put it on the map and was undoubtedly partially responsible for the subsequent conservation efforts that led to its recovery.
The snow- and spring-fed waters of the Blackfoot flow fast and cold through scenic wilderness landscapes and are home to thriving trout populations.
Early season can be hit or miss on the Blackfoot, which is best fished at the tail end of runoff or later in the season. Salmon flies and golden stones generally start coming off in late May and continue through June. These much-anticipated and much-loved hatches unfortunately coincide with the runoff period, which means we often miss some of the prime hatch activity due to blown water, but most seasons do afford at least a couple of weeks of fishing these big bug hatches. Summer hatches include PMDs, Green Drakes, and a variety of caddis and the hopper, and Spruce Moth fishing can oftentimes be off the charts. Fall fishing includes October Caddis and BWOs and is also a great time to fish streamers.
While the Blackfoot doesn’t have the numbers or size of fish found on the Missouri, the river is host to brook, brown, rainbow, westslope cutthroat, and even the protected bull trout. So while you’ll generally catch more and larger fish on the Missouri River, there’s nothing better than a warm summer day floating the scenic Blackfoot and throwing big dries for aggressive cutthroats.
The sections we most commonly fish on the Blackfoot are about a two-hour drive from Wolf Creek, which makes it a long but doable day. However, if you’re interested in spending more than a day on the river, we can arrange local lodging or even camping at designated sites along the river corridor.
If you haven’t experienced a day on the world-famous Blackfoot River, we highly recommend it.
Formed by the confluence of the Madison, Jefferson, and Gallatin rivers in southwest Montana, the Missouri River is a world-renowned tailwater offering a prolific fishery that draws anglers back year after year. With a mix of wild rainbow and brown trout numbering anywhere from 3,000-6,000 fish per mile, with typical size of 16 inches to 22 inches, an angler would be hard pressed to find a fishery that offers the quality, quantity, and size of fish the Missouri River does.
The variety of fishing methods utilized on our area waters further adds to the call of the Missouri. Whether floating a short stretch in conjunction with a specific hatch in search of pods of rising fish or covering longer distances with nymphs or streamers, our 30-plus miles of fishable water offer something to anglers of all ages and skill levels. The question isn’t whether you’ll catch fish, but how you will catch them.
Whether you’re a dry-fly only angler or you enjoy fishing sub-surface as well, the Missouri has something for you. Dry fly fishing is a real possibility almost year-round, starting with midges typically in February and March, BWOs in April and May, PMDs through June and July, Tricos in July and August, and caddis an ever-present possibility from April through October. BWOs make a second appearance in the fall, usually from mid-October through November.
Terrestrial fishing starts in June with significant ant and beetle activity and really heats up around the middle of July as hoppers come into play for the remainder of the summer season. Ply the cover tight to the banks but don’t overlook midriver flats and riffles, the fish are everywhere.
If nymphing is your game, then the Missouri is for you. The biomass in the Missouri is beyond belief, which means that trout are always feeding beneath the surface. Whether matching the hatch or mimicking the sowbugs and scuds that are so plentiful in these waters, fishing nymphs beneath an indicator has rapidly become the method of choice for many, and just as is the case with dry fly fishing, nymphing is a go-to method all year long.
Less utilized but equally effective is streamer fishing, which has always been around but is gaining in popularity. Trout spey has become extremely popular, especially during the winter months, and traditional single-hand methods shine in the early spring and late fall.
Whether spending the day hunting heads, in search of the opportunity to execute a perfect cast and perfect presentation to that lazy giant tucked tightly to the bank, or covering miles of water eyeing that next perfect spot as the river presents herself with new and ever evolving riffles, banks, drop-offs, buckets, and pools holding the promise of that next big brown, the Missouri has something for everyone.
For those who get tired of catching trout, one can find 10 pound-plus carp in the slower waters. A 10-pound carp on a 5 weight puts up a great fight.