Montana Fly Fishing

Montana Fly-fishing


A broken pair of sunglasses were slid across the counter. Jonathan, unconcerned asked for another pair to be ordered for him. His pair had been cracked in half by flying split-shot from the end of his older brother’s line. While it is never fun to be hooked or drilled by split-shot, Brad and Jon have been on the receiving end of a fly line many times.

This small anecdote is an attempt to show that Brad and Jon both have the patience of saints. They have been guiding for almost two decades in Montana. Whether you are experienced or just want to try fly-fishing for the first time, we do our best to cater to our guests’ skill level. Brad, Jon, and our other guides on staff are happy to teach anyone to fly-fish. They are very passionate introducing new people to the sport of fly-fishing. If you are an experienced angler and just need some help with the area or fly selection, we are glad to help with that and point you in the right direction so you can build your own fishing experience.


The Beaverhead River starts at the Clark Canyon Reservoir, a lake that is the product of the Red Rock River being dammed in 1964. This river is home to one of the most fruitful trout hatcheries in Montana and in the lower forty-eight. The Beaverhead is an incredibly popular fishing destination. In the cold waters flowing out of the dam, lay some phenomenal brown and rainbow trout. The river is narrow with a high current flow, which makes for a great float trip. From late May until the fishing season is over. Brad and Jon net thousands of trout for their guests every year. As the primary river that they guide in the heat of the summer months, float trips down the Beaverhead are hard to beat. From the may-flies in May and June to hopper season in August, our guides know every honey hole to hit from the dam to the end of the Beaverhead at Anderson Lane.


Dry-fly fishing opportunities present themselves in July with PMD and yellow sally hatches. If you prefer fishing the Beaverhead, the best time to fish is the start of June through August (Beaverhead is closed from Pipe Organ Bridge up to the Dam until the third weekend in May). Most days on the river are measured by the number of fish caught by parties in the boat and amongst guides. However, men are separated from the boys by the size of the fish they catch. While the fish in the Beaverhead are fished often, they still bite and fight hard. It is not uncommon to reign in a twenty incher, giving you a stellar battle and a hard won picture.

Big Hole:

Big Jon’s favorite river is the Big Hole. While the Beaverhead, Madison, and Jefferson all boast incredible fish and scenery, the Big Hole takes the cake. Big Jon is passionate about fishing everywhere he goes, but the Big Hole’s seclusion and scenery makes him feel at home above all else. Starting in March when the ice melts streamer fishing and skwalla dry flies are the hot ticket. Big browns are on the move and chomping at everything that moves on the thawed out surface. While most people enjoy the mild summers of Montana, the spring is the best time of year to go fishing due to the ice melting. As it continues warms up, April and May boast some of the best fish caught on our guided trips on the Big Hole river. Approximately 90% of the fish we net over 24 inches are in April and May.


View from the Big HolUp high on the river – above Jerry Creek – brook trout are the most commonly netted fish, with the occasional, and elusive, arctic grayling. Past this point on the river, the most common fish to catch are browns and rainbows. If you are a dry fly or streamer fisherman, this river will give you the chance to net your share of big trout.

The signature phrase “FISH ON” doesn’t just stop in the spring. Into the early part of June, the salmon and golden fly hatches attract hundreds of people to the river. Salmon flies are big bugs, and it takes a big fish to get them down. It doesn’t take an expert to connect the dots on those facts. However, don’t let the infamous salmon fly hatch fool you; the most enjoyable fishing trips are before the masses arrive. It is best to come early in the year to have your line tight with some fantastic fish.


Jefferson River:

The Jefferson Season is very similar to the Big Hole. The fishing starts when the ice melts in the early spring – February into March – and the best fishing is in April and May. The skwalla hatch occurs in April and May and offers some incredible dry fly fishing opportunities. If you’ve worn out the fish on the Bitterroot and the Big Hole, Brad and Jon can set you up with some great fish here. The fishing on the Jefferson is consistent throughout the year. The peak seasons for catching some great browns and rainbows comes with the skwalla in April/May and the grasshoppers in late July and through August. In early to mid-August the water levels drop too much to ensure good fishing.


For more experienced and rugged fishermen and women the Bitterroot is a fantastic river to fish early in the year; it is the first primary river of the season. Starting in late February and continuing through the start of April, this river is extremely rewarding. The skwalla hatch occurs earlier on the Bitterroot than on surrounding rivers, so Brad and Jon will help you make the most of these dry fly opportunities. With the air and water so cold the fish are anxious to feed after a bitter winter. These hungry fish include cutthroat, browns, and rainbows which are all nestled in the heart of the gorgeous Bitterroot Mountains. If you can brave the elements – a slightly colder fishing experience – this fishing trip pays for itself in memories.

Since the weather is so variable in southwest Montana this time of year, we void the usual deposit policy. We want our clients to have a great fishing trip, and we do not want to hold you to a trip that will not be worth your while. Full price of trip will be collected morning of or afternoon of fishing trip.

Ruby River: While all of the other rivers we float are done by drift boat, the Ruby is primarily a wading river. If you prefer some stand up fishing action and like getting your shoes wet, we suggest the Ruby. The Ruby carries some stellar brown trout that have the same season as the Beaverhead. The blue winged olives and caddis early in the year make for some hot dry fly action. Into the summer, nymphing opportunities are abundant with yellow sallies and PMD emergers. Grasshoppers start driving the fish crazy in late July and August, so the fishing stays pretty hot throughout the season.

Pricing and Booking Information: Information on pricing and the cancellation policy can be found here.