Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 6/27

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot River is trying to drop, but is more staying constant with small daily bumps and a gradual decline in flow. The clarity is decent, and if you’re floating, you can get it done with Salmon Flies up top but quickly waning and Goldens are starting to show, as well as Green Drakes on the cloudy days. The wading is not easy on the Bitterroot right now, but if the river keeps dropping as it is now, we expect this to get a lot better in the next week. The forks are fishing well, again with few Salmon Flies and Goldens.
Green Drakes have been seen, and a few fish are taking advantage, but you need to find the soft spots to get the fish to come to the surface. The same is applying to the PMD’s, PED’s and Tan Caddis. As the river drops, these flies will become more important on the surface. The nymphs are important right now, and a PT jig, G Kes or a Caddis Pupa will move fish underneath the surface.
Streamers are definitely working, especially in the more colored water closer to Missoula. The Drunk And Disorderly, with it’s flat face, sends out vibrations to fish and moves them in stained water. Gongas, Dungeons, the Boogie Man and other streamers with bulky heads are working as well. If you have a sink-tip or a sinking leader, definitely bring it. While the water is slowly dropping, the Bitterroot is still big, and the extra depth will help your streamer perform.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is dropping steadily in this heat, which means it will start to drop quickly in the next few days. At the moment, it’s a lot more friendly to floating anglers, though the further you go up the river, the better the wading will be. Remember the first 5 miles of the Recreational Corridor road is being paved, and is closed from Johnsrud to Whitaker Bridge. If you want to access the recreational corridor, you’ll need to drive to Roundup and come down from the top.
The Blackfoot is really fishing well with Streamers right now. Big streamers, little streamers- the big fish are eating little fish, and the streamer fishing is really good. The lower river is still a bit off color, so darker streamers down there, but as you go upstream, a lighter streamer has been just as effective. Bring the big streamer stick if you have one- a sink tip is getting the fly where the fish are, especially down low. A sinking leader will work as well. Pick your streamers to match your rod weight. It’s more important to get the fly close to the fish. If you can cast a big fly accurately, the Blackfoot is for you!
The Salmon Flies and Golden Stones are being eaten with regularity on the Blackfoot. The dry fly fishing is better the higher up you go, as the clarity is better. Still use the bigger, brighter bugs, and again, accuracy is more important. The Blackfoot is bank full, and the trout are hugging bottom and sides. Better to have a thicker tippet for accuracy. The Morningwood Special or a Juicy Stone is good on top. The tweener fly of choice is the Juicy Stone Golden, which does double duty as a Salmon Fly as well. The Rogue Golden and the Half Down Golden are producing as well. Of course, a dropper or double nymph rig is very effective, and a Double Bead Stone or big Pat’s Rubberlegs are working their magic subsurface.
Green drakes are being eaten, but with the higher flows, it’s more about finding where the water is soft enough to allow the trout to set up for the hatch. If you find the hatch, most flies close in appearance are being eaten. Make sure to have a couple of Parachute Green Drakes and a Flash Cripple or two to meet the hatch. For subsurface action, a big PT Jig Nymph and the Emerald Salvation Nymph are pulling in the fish. Get them deep enough!
PMD’s, PED’s and tan caddis are being seen, but the flows are such that the fish are taking less interest in the smaller bugs and focusing on the Salmonflies and Golden Stones. The nymphs of these smaller bugs are working, so have the G Kes, Yellow Spot Jig or the Umpqua PT Jig to take advantage of the subsurface smorgasbord. The smaller dries will begin to assert themselves when the water drops a bit, so be tready in the next few days.
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Clark Fork River

The Middle and Lower Clark Fork river are still high and off color, though the off color is now more green than brown, which is a good sign! The upper Clark is fishing well on the upper, and the way upper stretch by Warm Springs is wading well.
The Golden and Salmon Fly hatches in the upper section are what we expect, present but not strong. It’s dry/dropper up here, with the dropper doing most of the work. A TJ Hooker or a Pat’s Rubberlegs is working well on the upper stretches. An Orange Chubby makes a great indicator, and will pick up a few fish. The goldens are being seen, and in the upper stretches, the smaller Goldens like the Henry’s Fork or Rogue Golden is working.
When it comes to the Middle and Lower sections, it’s going to be streamer time before it’s dry fly time. If the rivers continue to drop at this rapid rate, we expect the Middle Clark Fork to be seeing some good streamer action in 4-5 days, with the lower section a few days later. As the biggest drainage in the area, the Clark Fork takes a bit longer to round into shape. A bit of patience is needed from Missoula on down, but keep an eye our for that magical streamer green ,and take advantage.
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Rock Creek

The heat is here and Rock Creek is dropping, which means the river is definitely rounding into shape. There’s still some Salmonflies kicking around, and the big orange floaters like the Morningwood Special and Rio’s Juicy Stone are still productive. But as the river drops and the fish start to move off the banks, the smaller, lower floating flies like Gould’s Half-Down Salmon Fly, Rogue Stone, Cat Puke and the Morrish Still Stone are working too. If you have the bright orange bugs, a quick application of brown or black magic marker will get them looking a lot more natural.
Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies are along the length of the river. The bigger Goldens, like the Dancing Ricky and the El Camino. The same applies to the Goldens- as the river drops, the duller, more natural Goldens will start to work. The Henry’s Fork Golden, Rogue Golden and the Demoe’s Mill Creek are some low floating bugs that will move the fish. The lower the flows get, the more important the Yellow Sallies will be. Make sure you have them with you.
Looking for a tweener- A fly that may be a Golden, may be a Salmon Fly? The Juicy Stone Golden or the Fluttering Golden will fit that bill perfectly.
If you choose to go subsurface which you shouldn’t have to, a big Pat’s Rubberlegs in brown will cover both golden and Salmon Fly nymphs. If you’re looking for more realism, the Double Bead Stone in Peacock (Salmon Fly) and the Double Bead Hare’s Ear (Golden Nymph)
The Green Drakes are being taken, in more places every day as the river drops. The Carnage Drake and the Parachute Green drake are working well. If you run across a little fussier fish, a Sparkle Cripple Green Drake has been very effective. The Emerald Salvation Nymph is taking fish subsurface.
The PMD’s are starting to be eaten as well- again more as the river drops. The PED’s and Tan Caddis are the same. Make sure to have them, but they won’t be super important on the surface for about a week. Unless you find a soft spot, and then they’ll be important now! But the nymphs and pupa are important right now, so make sure to have PT Tungsten Jigs, Tan Caddis Pupa and Yellow Hot Spots to move the fish close to the bottom.
If you can take your eyes off the Salmon Flies and Goldens, the streamer fishing up here is pretty good! Sparkle Minnows are moving fish, as are the Mini Dungeons and Sculpzillas. The Dungeons are working on a sink tip or sinking leader, and right now Rock Creek is big enough to take a sinking line
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Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 6/20

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The bitterroot bumped with the recent rain and is slowly coming back down. The water is still big up here. Not a bad idea to give this one some time to come back down a little more. We’ve had some reports on the upper stretches that fished good before the bump but the lower end will take some time to calm down. The Salmonfly hatch has been inconsistent over the last few weeks on the upper, they’ve been out heavy in the sun but are starting to wane. Be ready for the Golden Stone hatch on the upper soon.
We’re still doing our best to scout some of these stretches but with the fluctuating water the river is constantly changing, we’re waiting for it to drop back down after the recent rain event. Be careful if you decide to float. Might be a better idea to get out the tying vise, hit your favorite lake or wade smaller streams.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot river bumped in flows with the recent rain and is leveling off as of this morning. The Blackfoot has been the most consistent for us this last week with the dropping flows and warming temps. We started to get some Salmonfly dry fly action on the lower end but nothing to really write home about. The nymphing was consistent and the streamer fishing was also productive. We’re hoping the water continues to drop throughout this week. The forecast isn’t calling for much more rain after today, the warmer temps should bring a little more consistency to our flows opposed to the rain which can cause big spikes.
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Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork is on it’s way up and not a great choice right now. The stretches above town should come back down quickly this week after the rain but the lower should be high and murky for a while. Much better options than the Clark Fork this week.
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Rock Creek

We’ve had some awesome reports over the last week with warmer temps and dropping flows. The Salmonflies have been out and the fish are eating them. The last few days the water has bumped in flows but we expect that to come down in the coming days. If you’ve been paying attention to the flows, you’ve seen how quickly flows can drop this time of year after rain even through the warmer temps. They’re up now but should drop again this week.
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Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 6/14

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot spiked along the length of the river the last few days. High, brown and blown. The river should continue to drop and clear in the next few days. Not a great option as of now but focusing on side channels and softer edges on the upper end is your best bet. Maybe some back sloughs will hold trout, and definitely pike, but getting to a slough is the major issue. Best to leave this one alone for a few days. Should drop into more fishable conditions in the next week or two.
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Blackfoot River

The rain, warm temperatures and great snowpack have finally caught up to us. We’ve been squeezing some decent fishing over the last week, but the river spiked big time. Lots of brown, high water at this point, but the weather patterns should start to bring the river down within the next few days. So right now, not so much, but we’re expecting the Blackfoot to be fishable within the week. Salmonfly hatch should show up within in the next few weeks if the weather holds true. It’s shaping up to be a good second half of June around Missoula.
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Clark Fork River

The middle and lower sections of the Clark Fork is high, brown and pretty much unfishable. The river has been climbing for the last few days and starting to drop slowly. The Clark Fork bumped in flows over the last week. So far it doesn’t look like it’s dropping as quick as the rest of the rivers in the area. Lots of great smaller streams to hit this time of year in the area that are much better options. Expect the mid to lower Clark Fork river to be out of commission for the next week or two while the upper should shape up a lot quicker.
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Rock Creek

Rock Creek is holding its little visibility as well as any river in the area. It’s still, big and off-color, but the salmonfly hatch has started and that’s all it takes to bring these fish to the top even during high flows. The top section will be better than the bottom for clarity. You can get it done here at the moment and should improve throughout next week. Any way you slice it, it’s going to be a bit of work on the water in the next few days. Warm weather mid next week should really get the salmonfly hatch popping!
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Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 5/4

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

Looks like the bonus fishing has ended on the Bitterroot. In the last 24 hours, the Bitterroot has almost doubled in size, and that’s bringing a lot of color into the water. If you’re thinking of heading to the ‘Root, you’re going to be driving to the East or West Forks, and even then it’s not a given. Keep in mind the tribs don’t open until the 3rd Saturday in May, so they’re off limit till then.
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Blackfoot River

Monture Creek is pumping mud into the Blackfoot River, so the fishing below Scotty Brown Bridge is going to be very difficult. As of today, the upper Blackfoot is rising and off color, but still fishable. But with the higher temps in the forecast, we don’t expect that to last to the weekend. If you’re going to give it a try, go as high as you can, and be ready for sub-surface only. If there’s enough visibility, streamers will be good, but it’s all dependent on the visibility. It’s a crap shoot
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Clark Fork River

With Monture Creek pushing mud, the Clark Fork below the confluence will be off color and tricky to fish. The lower Clark Fork is rising slowly but consistently, and it looks like the fishing is going to really slow down below the Blackfoot.
The upper Clark Fork has remained consistent in its’ flows, and may be a good option for the angler. Make sure you get above Drummond to find the better fishing. But before you go, better check the USGS web site to make sure the river hasn’t bumped with the warm weather. Bring your Skwalas and Western March Browns if the water levels stay steady, but if it’s rising, it’s a sub-surface game.
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Rock Creek

Rock Creek may be the best option at the moment. It’s come up 25% in the last 2 days, but is still clear enough to fish. The upper sections are still somewhat stable, and may kick out some dry fly fishing, but it looks like the bulk of the fishing will be subsurface. Make sure to have some streamers to take the bigger fish looking for the smaller fish dislodged by the rising water. If you head to the upper sections, bring your Skwalas and Western March Browns, but make sure to check the USGS Montana Stream Flow web site to check for unanticipated spikes in water flows.
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May Hatches

Click any photo below to find out more information on each individual hatch. Includes life cycle, best fly patterns, helpful tips and where to find these hatches in your Western Montana fly fishing adventure.

Western Montana Fly Fishing 2022 Forecast

We’re having a typical Montana Spring. We had snow in late April, and the weather hasn’t gone above 70 since October! We’re getting a bit of rain each day, which is keeping the ground moist and the grass green. While some don’t enjoy this weather now, we’re all going to love it in about 6 weeks and throughout the summer. So far the Montana fly fishing 2022 prediction is looking pretty dang good.

Our snow pack is between 150 and 215% throughout the area, and if this rain continues, we’re going to have an epic summer. Hate to pull a jinx, but it’s looking a whole lot better than last summer, when we had some serious drought throughout western Montana. But right now, we’re poised to have water throughout the summer. The weather looks mild for the next few weeks which always helps extending the runoff further into the summer and should produce some good june fly fishing as well. As long as we don’t see those early record breaking temperature like we saw last June, we should have some much happier fish for the summer of 2022.

We can’t wait. The droughts that occasionally show in Western Montana can be a real issue for fishing. Low flows and high water temps are a serious stresser on the trout. When water levels stay up through the summer, keeping water temps lower, the fish stay healthy. This snowpack, and some typical June rain will keep water levels where they should be through the summer.

The Missoulian Angler is prepping for a big summer of fishing. Our cold spring fishing has shown us some very healthy, fat fish with no noticeable population decline. We came through last years’ low water relatively unscathed. All the cards are in place, it looks like the stars are aligned. With a little help from June rain, this summer is looking to be a lot deeper than last summer. Lazy waders might be a bit sad, as will those who like their fish stacked like cordwood. But for those who want a healthy river, stress free trout and cold water around their feet, it looks like the summer of 2022 Montana fly fishing is going to be a whole lot better than last year.

Current Western Montana snow water equivalent percent map – 6/1/2022
A great start to Western Montana fly fishing 2022 season!!!
Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 4/30

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

We’re fishing in May for the first time in a while. The cold, wet spring is keeping river levels fairly steady, and the fish are up and feeding on skwalas, March Browns and big Gray Drakes. Go a bit smaller on the skwalas- 10’s and 12’s- they’ve been ashore for a while and are losing body mass. A Rogue Skwala or a Gray/Olive Plan B will still take fish looking to the surface. The skwala nymph is still OK, but most have hatched, so a smaller mayfly nymph might be a better choice.
The Gray Drakes are well imitated by a size 12 Hare’s Ear Parachute, our a Brindle Chute. Subsurface, don’t sleep on the SJ Worm, as well as a Duracell Jig or the Pink Hot Spot Jig. As the water levels are fluctuating, make sure to get your dropper or nymph rig deep enough.
The pike are starting to pod up to spawn, so they’re easy to find, but a bit spooky. Run a smaller articulated fly like a Gray Dungeon or a Kill Whitey to imitate the whitefish. Gaudy flies are drawing attention, but not as many eats at the moment. Make sure to have a few bright ones if that changes.
When the water is fluctuating, streamers are a very good choice. Throw what you’re comfortable with, something with a bit of a head to push water. Get as deep as you can, and keep the streamer moving. Have light, bright and dark to cover all the bases.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The colder Spring has put the Blackfoot into play, and it’s fishing well. With the weather forecast in the next 5 days, we think it’s going to stay good through early May. The Gray Drakes are being seen in the lower sections, and streamers are working along the length of the river. A deep nymph is also working very well- bigger has been better. Take some Rubberlegs and TJ Hookers, run your dropper as deep as you can, and let them hunt. The fish have been looking for them.
The Gray Drakes are sporadic, but when the fish find them, they’re on them. Have your big profile flies like a Brindle Chute or Parachute Hare’s Ear. The fish aren’t fussy, but finding them can be.
Streamers are working up here, and we’re getting reports of big and little, light and dark. So pick your poison and get them out in the river. Blackfoot fish love streamers, and they’re hitting them now. Take advantage of Spring Blackfoot river fishing!
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Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork is a spotty river right now. The upper is definitely clearer than the middle section, and we’re hearing down low is still fishing well. Check the USGS web site to see if the water is rising, dropping or steady. With the weather that’s forecast, the Clark Fork should stabilize and fish well for the next week or so. It’s been a while since we’ve had good May fishing in the area. That will make a big difference in how and where you fish. If the river is rising, be ready to fish streamers. Rising water moves the little fish out of their homes and into the bigger fish.
If the water is steady or dropping, the skwalas, March Browns and Gray Drakes are still moving fish on the surface. Use a Size 8-10 Rogue Skwala or an Olive Chubby if you’re running the dry/dropper. A darker Rubberlegs underneath is always working on the Clark Fork, just keep it deep.
The Gray Drakes are really going on the Clark Fork, with pods of fish rising in the afternoon to these big bugs. Try a size 12 Hare’s Ear Parachute or a Brindle Chute to give the big profile needed, or run the Adams if you want a thinner bug. Subsurface, have the Tungsten Jig Assassin or a Duracell to mimic the nymph.
When the water is coming up, use a bigger streamer to move the bigger fish. Darker flies have been taking fish when the water is a bit off color, so have your dark streamers ready. If the water is clearer, start dark but be ready to switch to a lighter color. Sink tips are good on the Lower section- get deep and stay there.



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Rock Creek

The Gray Drakes are really getting hot right now along the length of the Rock Creek, and with the weather forecast, will stay this way for a few days in early May. The skwalas are still active as well, and the fish are looking for them after about noon. An Olive Chubby and the Gray/Olive Plan B are taking fish on the surface, and the 20 Incher is working as a skwala nymph.
Make sure to have your size 12 Adams or Parachute Hare’s Ear for the Gray Drakes. They’re coming off in the afternoon, and are pretty easy to find. If you want to ply the depths, bring some Duracell CopperTops or a Brillons Lucent Hare’s Ear Jig to imitate the nymphs. The San Juan Worm is also working really well up here.
Streamers have been working as well, but not anything special. It’s still standard streamer fishing on Rock Creek, but hey, it’s fishing in May! Take advantage while you can.
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May Hatches

Click any photo below to find out more information on each individual hatch. Includes life cycle, best fly patterns, helpful tips and where to find these hatches in your Western Montana fly fishing adventure.