Missoula Fly Fishing

Something For Every Angler

When you come to experience Missoula fly fishing, you can be assured of finding the fishing you’re looking for! With four major rivers, over 300 miles of floatable water within an hour’s drive from town, and so many tributaries and lakes we can’t count them, whatever you’re searching for with a fly rod is found here. Technical dry fly fishing to pods of risers, raucous streamers banging boulders and banks, or nymphing for numbers. Browns, Rainbows, native Cutthroat, Brook Trout, Cut-Bows and even Golden Trout if you’re willing to hike. Missoula has the fish, and the fishing!

All four of Missoula’s major rivers, the Blackfoot River, Bitterroot River, Rock Creek and the Clark Fork River are freestone rivers. Missoula’s watershed gets the majority of its water from snowpack and rain. Missoula river levels dramatically fluctuate at certain times of the year, with run-off and high water usually occurring late April through mid-June. If you’re only able to be here during run-off, there can be windows for local fly fishing. We will guarantee you get on the water by dropping over the hill to fish the Missouri River, a tailwater that fishes year-round.

Missoula’s fly fishing season starts in March for Skwala Stones, BWO’s and Western March Browns. Small stream anglers should know tributaries are closed from Dec 1 to the third Saturday in May, so you’re on the main stems. The wading is delightful, as water levels are low, and floating is always good.

Fishing slows down as water rises in late April, and then explodes back in mid-June with Salmon Flies, Green Drakes, Golden Stones, Pale Morning Duns, Tan Caddis and Pale Evening Duns. As early summer flies wane, we pick up Tricos, Hoppers and Spruce Moths in August. With the first September rains, you can find Mahoganies, Hecubas and BWO’s, with October Caddis rounding out the season.

Notice we describe our entire Missoula fly fishing season by the hatches. If you choose, you can come to Montana and throw nothing but dry flies. Depending on when you’re here, you can enjoy some spectacular streamer fishing! With so many Missoula hatches, nymphing will always put fish on the end of the line. Euro nymphers will find Missoula offers interesting and challenging options for the long rod, as well as a lot of fish!.

We need to keep expectations real. The average trout in Missoula is 10-14 inches long, which is true of almost all Western freestone rivers. That’s not to say larger fish don’t live here! Our site is full of pictures showing big dogs bite! We’re just saying that every Missoula trout may not require Instagram.

Montana has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Missoula has 4 river valleys ringed with towering mountains and big sky for days. We sit about 3,000 feet above sea level, and average about 12 inches of moisture a year. Classified as a semi-arid desert, the weather in Missoula can change on a dime. If you’re coming early or late season, bring waders and layers to counter rapidly shifting weather. Summer anglers can wade in shorts and sandals if preferred. With little humidity, it’s easy to become dehydrated when fishing in Montana. If you’re not being guided, bring lots of water or a filtration bottle to make sure you stay on top of your game. Montana is beautiful, but it can be rugged as ell, so be prepared.

The Missoulian Angler is here to answer any questions you have about the fishing in Missoula from Jan 1 to Dec 31. The site is chock full of Missoula info on Hatches, Seasons and Rivers if you’re looking for more details. If you don’t find what you need, drop us an email or pick up the phone. With the staff that has over 100 years of fly fishing experience, the Missoulian Angler has the answers you’re looking for when it comes to fishing in Missoula and across Montana.

Additional Missoula Fly Fishing Resources