Fly Fishing the Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork is over 300 miles long and the largest river by volume in Montana.

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Fly Fishing the Clark Fork River

From the confluence of Basin and Blacktail Creeks, its headwaters are known as Silver Bow Creek in southwestern Montana near Butte. Besides numerous feeder streams, it receives the Bitterroot River just west of Missoula, as well as the Flathead River near Plains.

The Clark Fork, and in particular its headwaters, is infamous for toxic metals draining into it from mining. Thankfully, the mines have been closed, and various superfund sites have now cleaned up most of these toxins. In fact, remediation activities have already started to take effect in its headwaters, and they are becoming a popular fishing site.

What the river offers…

The Bitterroot has it all; from runs and riffles, to pools and flats, its numerous braids and channels combine to create a river with remarkable diversity and premier dry fly fishing. The Bitterroot is notorious for its very heavy hatches, making it one of our favorite dry fly fishing rivers.  Rainbow trout are prevalent, along with somewhat smaller populations of brown trout and westslope cutthroat trout.

The Bitterroot offers some of the best early season fly fishing in Montana.  Believe it or not, we start fishing this beautiful river (with confidence) in February.  Our dry fly patterns like the bugmeister, nightmare, and congo caddis fool fish from March thru October.

The upper stretches of the Bitterroot are full of 12 to 16 inch cuts and rainbows and readily take our dries during hatches. The fish on the middle and lower stretches are generally larger and offer more browns.  In fact, the middle and lower stretches of the Bitterroot River in the Spring provide your best opportunity to catch brown trout over 22″ on a dry fly.  But these stretches also have a very good number of rainbows and cuts too.

More than any of the other area rivers, the Bitterroot during the spring skwala hatch is the place to be for big trout on dries.  But there are also thriving hatches of Mayflies and Caddis from March through November.  Together these hatches provide anglers with some of the best dry fly fishing in the entire state of Montana.  Our favorite months to fish the Bitterroot are March, April, August and October.

A black fly lure graphic.

Gallery & Trip Information

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Western Montana Area Day Trips

(Including The Bitterroot, Blackfoot, Clark Fork and Missouri Rivers)

Full Day Float Trip - $690 (2 anglers)

Full day wade trip - $500 for 1 angler, $650 for 2 anglers, and $750 for 3 anglers.

This is our normal full day on the water.  We usually are out 8-10+ hours from when we pick you up at the hotel to when we drop you back off.  Includes NA drinks and a full lunch and snacks, all the flies, tippet, etc. that will be needed for the day.  A typical day starts with a pick up time of 8:30 AM, and a drop off at 5-6 pm.  Sometimes we will shift those times earlier or later as fishing conditions dictate.

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