Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 6/1

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

Enjoy and Good Luck!


The general report on all the local rivers is they’re dropping, and dropping fairly hard right now. This is providing fishable water in the upper and middle stretches of the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, and Rock Creek, and the upper reaches of the Clark Fork as well as on the tributaries that opened last weekend. For simplicity, the further you get from Missoula, and the closer to the headwaters, the better the fishing will be. It’s almost all subsurface, and the fly has to be where the fish are. While the rivers are dropping, they’re nowhere near low, so where your fly is is a lot more important than what the fly is. Find the softer water, the places where trout can hold, and fish them carefully. You’ll have to search those places out, but the trout will be there. Some of the Missoula fly fishing guides are out fishing the mid to upper Bitterroot and Blackfoot with decent success.

If the rivers continue to drop at this rate, we may get an earlier Salmon Fly hatch than we’ve seen in the last couple of years. That will also translate into earlier Goldens as well. It will depend on water temp and flow, but with the trend right now, it might pay dividends to be ready earlier rather than later. We’re expecting fishing on the Blackfoot and Bitterroot to start producing good fishing in the next one to two.

Bitterroot River

The upper and middle Bitterroot river are fishable, with the visibility varying with the latest rain. Find the softer water, and get your flies deep for the best success. Don’t mess with dry/dropper, go indicator and a double nymph. Most anglers have been using a big point fly, like a Double Bead Stone, Jig Pat’s Rubberlegs or even a smaller Chicago Overcoat. As a dropper on the double nymph rig, an Hot Spot P-Tail Orange Jig, G Kes or Umpqua Jig Pheasant Tail.

The smaller fly has been doing the majority of the catching, while the larger fly gets the rig to the depth it needs to be. You can certainly run two smaller nymphs, but you’ll want some additional weight to get the flies to the zone.

The streamer fishing has been very good as well. Don’t be afraid to go big, and use a fly with a sizable head, like a Dungeon or a Boogie Man. A sinking Tip or a sinking leader will be very useful with those flies. If you’re using a floating line, lengthen your leader and work a Sculpzilla, Chicago Overcoat or a Kreelix to get the fly down quickly. Color hasn’t been critical, though darker flies have been working better. Again, it’s about where the fish are in the faster water. Make sure the fish has a chance to make a decision- find the softer water.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot river is dropping very quickly, and there is visibility along the length, though the lower section hasn’t really rounded into shape as much as the upper. Give the lower section a day or so and it should be fishable subsurface. The middle and upper sections are fishing, though certainly not lights out. But Salmon Flies are coming and may be here before we expected if the future forecasts stay true.

It’s more important where your fly is in the water column than what your fly is. The double rig nymph with a large point fly and smaller dropper is working in the softer water along the bank and behind rocks and boulders. Think TJ Hooker or Double Bead Stone as point fly, with a Duracell Jig, Z-Stone Yellow Sally Jig or a simple Hare’s Ear Jig as a dropper. Some anglers have been running a double rig nymph with 2 larger bugs, both for the depth and working the Salmon Fly nymphs that are starting to move to the banks getting ready to hatch soon.

The steamer bite hasn’t really gotten started on the ‘Foot, but with the water dropping and clearing, we expect to see some good streamer fishing in the next couple of days. If you head to the Blackfoot, take your streamer rod and give it a run, but be ready to work the nymph if things are slow. Give it a bit of time, the bite is coming.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River

If you plan to fish the Clark Fork river, you’re heading east as least as far as Drummond, and for better fishing keep driving till you find clearer water. Also note the Hog Hole and Pond Three opened on May 25, so if some still water angling for enormous fish is something of interest, drive all the way to Warm Springs with some scuds and balanced leeches. On the upper river, a double nymph game, with location being more important than pattern. Find the slower water, and get your flies there.

On the way upper sections, where the river gets small, the Euronymphers have been doing very well. They’re not wading, but are capable off getting to the holding water with the long rod. It might be worth the drive to find that water. Down lower, the double nymph with big and small gas been getting eats on both size nymphs.

The streamer fishing has been good enough to keep anglers satisfied, but it can and will get better. A Baby Gonga, Mini Dungeon or a Zoo Cougar on a sinking leader have been working in the darker colors. It’s not light’s out, but it’s worth tying a big fly on and ripping it through the holding water.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

The top of Rock Creek has been fishing decently as the flows drop. The double nymph rig has been the most effective, with a heavy point fly like a Jig Girdle Bug, 20 Incher or a Black Double Bead Stone. Use a Hot Spot P-Tail Orange, Duracell or Black Blowtorch as the dropper. The bite has been about 50/50 up here between the big and little bug, so varying size is useful from both a fishing and a sinking standpoint. Salmon fly nymphs are starting to move and getting ready to hatch- the fish are recognizing bigger food forms.

Don’t miss the streamer opportunities either. Go a bit lower to the bigger water with a bit less visibility, and streamers are moving fish. Work the structure- fish are staying out of the faster currents. Bigger flies, to a point, are better. So is a bulky head, but make sure you can cast the fly on the line weight you’re using. Think of a Baby Gonga or a Mini-Dungeon- a good mix of size and bulk. A sinking tip or sinking leader will help in the deeper water, but much of the water is fishable with a long leader and front weighted fly, like a Sculpzilla or a Chicago Overcoat.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Missoula June Summer 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.