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Ultimate Montana Fishing

Swan River

Ultimate Montana Fishing

Montana is known for some of the best river, spring creek and lake fishing in the nation, including many legendary blue ribbon wild trout streams. From half-day to multi-day trips, you can find countless ways to spend a week on the waters of Montana. Start planning and find inspiration with these six spots that are considered gems by locals and visitors alike. 

Glacier Country

Clark Fork River
Kid Friendly
The Clark Fork River near Missoula is famous for its riffles and pools, gorgeous scenery, and healthy trout population. One of the longest rivers in Montana, the Clark Fork stretches more than 280 miles from its origin west of Butte to the Idaho border. The river even flows through downtown Missoula, so those not in the mood for a drive can fish close to town. If you’re not a fly angler, walk into a local fly-fishing shop (they’re not hard to find) and ask how to get started.

Southwest Montana

Big Hole River
Kid Friendly
The Big Hole River flows for 160 miles from humble beginnings in the Beaverhead Mountains to a confluence with the Beaverhead River in the town of Twin Bridges. The free-flowing river is home to more than 3,000 trout per mile and incredible insect hatches, creating a fishery that many fly anglers dream about. Both brown and rainbow trout can be caught in its tannin-tinted waters, as well as the occasional grayling. Surrounded by stunning scenery, the Big Hole can be fished with a guide or on your own.

Yellowstone Country

Gallatin River
Kid Friendly
The Gallatin River was perhaps made most famous when several of the fly fishing scenes from A River Runs Through It were filmed in the canyon section of the freestone. Anglers from around the world travel to the 90 miles of free-flowing trout water to see where the film was shot and to chase the river’s approximate 2,500 to 3,000 fish per mile. With meadow, canyon, and valley sections, the river offers diversity of scenery and fishing while also maintaining easy access.

Central Montana

Missouri River
Kid Friendly
Any visit to central Montana would be remiss without a stop to wet a line in the mighty Missouri River. The Wild and Scenic-designated section in this region is a stunning valley lined with striking rock formations and many historic sites. For serious anglers, the stretch near Cascade is known for large brown trout. As you drive along the river it’s easy to spot numerous drift boats plying the banks in hopes of an eager fish. Book a local fishing guide or bring your own gear and wade the river banks.

Missouri River Country

Fort Peck Reservoir
Kid Friendly
Formed by the Fort Peck Dam on the Missouri River, Fort Peck Reservoir is a 134-mile long lake that’s gained a well-earned reputation as an angler’s paradise. Home to northern pike, walleye, Chinook salmon, smallmouth bass, lake trout, and sauger, the reservoir is best fished from a boat, but in some places can be fished from the shore. While access is somewhat limited, the sheer numbers of big fish in the lake mean the effort very often pays off.

Southeast Montana

Bighorn River
Kid Friendly
The easternmost of Montana’s great rivers, the Bighorn flows from the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming north to its confluence with the Yellowstone River. Boasting an impressive 5,500 fish per river mile, it’s easily a favorite of savvy anglers in the region. The average length of Bighole trout is 17 inches, which means effort spent on the river often pays off in a big way. Connect with a local outfitter for a drift boat trip, or wade fish the river on your own.