Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 10/10

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 has been slow to move into strong Fall mode- it’s more been a sneaking up on the classic fall hatches. The Mahoganies are pushing their way onto the scene, getting a little better every day. The Tiltwing Dun and Brindle Chute are working as adults, while the Rusty Hackle Stacker is taking fish as a cripple/emerger. While not a blanket hatch, there’s enough bugs to get the trout’s attention. Get down with a PT Jig or a Caramel Jig to make the most of the Mahoganies at the moment.
The BWO’s are also slowly appearing this year. Have the basics with you- Parachute BWO, Last Chance Cripple and a Hackle Stacker to cover the hatch along the river. Be ready for random appearances until the clouds start to hit the area with some regularity. A small Olive Bullet or Olive Spanish Bullet is working as the dropper on a double nymph rig.
The amazing weather we’re having has kept the hopper fishing as good as we’ve seen it for a while this late in October, and it looks like it will stay good for a while. There are still tricos coming off, and while they are waning, the trout are still looking for them. Make sure you have your tricos with you.
If the weather gets cloudy, get to the Bitterroot. The clouds will get the Mahoganies and BWO’s moving, so when the sky is overcast, you should be casting as well!
With the sun, a bright, flashy streamer is moving fish. Try a Skiddish Smolt, Little Kim Ciopper or any Kreelix in the sun to grab the trout’s attention. A little deeper is always better when the sun is shining, but the water temps are telling the trout it’s time to eat, so show them some big food and get ready.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot River is starting to show signs of the end of fall fishing. That means the streamer fishing is really good up here. The big fish are looking for some pre-Winter bulk, so it makes sense to show them what they want! If you have a streamer set-up, the big flies like a Dungeon or Double Dirty Hippie are moving big fish. Get them a bit deeper than usual to counter the sun. Make sure to have light, bright and dark streamers to cover all the bases. For lighter line weights, throw a smaller streamer, and make sure you get it close to structure. The big fish are looking to eat- make it easy by putting your fly where they live.
The October Caddis are being seen on the Blackfoot, and while the fish are taking the adults sporadically, the pupa are really working. The Bird of Prey and Orange Mop Fly are moving fish sub-surface with regularity. While not an October Caddis, the TJ Hooker, Orange Spot PT Jig and Olive Micro Dot are also taking fish on a double nymph rig or under a hopper.
Which are still working! The warm Fall we’re having is keeping the hoppers quite active on the middle and lower sections of the Blackfoot. Have a range of sizes, as the hot hopper seems to change from day to day, big and small. We can’t even say which color is hot, as that seems to change as well. But have your hoppers and larger attractors to get some fish to the surface.Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River


The Clark Fork has been a bit of an enigma this fall. The hatches are out, but without consistency. Mahoganies, BWOS and some October Caddis are being seen, but so far nothing has truly established with the warm, sunny weather. That keeps the hatches simple, with a Pheasant Tail Parachute working for the mahoganies, and a Tiltwing for the BWO’s.
The warm weather has trout still looking for hoppers. Have an assortment of sizes and colors, as the trout have seen a few this season and sometimes the wild card is the answer. Drop a Duracell or PT Jig off the back to imitate the Mahogany nymph. Mid size attractors are also working well, like a Purple Pennington or a Micro Waterwalker.
If you decide to run a double nymph rig, a TJ Hooker or a Double Bead Stone as the point will get your Olive Micro Dot or SR Bullet Quill down deep. Placing your indicator 5-6 feet from the point fly is not too far- get down deep in the sun.The streamer bite is coming on as well, especially in the middle section. Big flies move big fish, so if you have the line weight to throw big flies, do so. With a lighter line, a Skiddish Smolt or Kreelix will provide the sink rate and ease of casting that will take fish. When the sun is shining, a sparkly fly tends to work a bit better, but make sure to have the full color spectrum, just in case.
If we get a cloudy day, drop what you’re doing and head to the Clark Fork. The hatches have been strong ion the clouds, so take advantage.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is fishing well right now with hoppers, nymphs and streamers. The classic fall hatches are taking their time to establish up here, but with a little diligence you can find some spots where the Mahoganies and BWO’s are starting to appear. Make sure to have some Parachute Pheasant Tails and your BWO’s, but it’s going to take a bit to find fish taking them.
The Hoppers and Attractors are still working along the length of the river, especially in the afternoon as the water temps rise. A Pink or tan hopper has been taking fish with regularity, as have the Stubby Chubbies, Micro Chubbies and the Brindle Chute. Work the edges and drop offs for the best reception.
Have your October caddis with you, as some dries are being seen. The real strength of the October Caddis is in the pupa. The Bird of Prey or a smaller Golden Pat’s Rubberlegs are taking fish sub-surface. If you see an October Caddis flying, try a pupa to move some fish.
The bigger fish are holding out for streamers. Sparkle Minnows and Kreelix are working along the length of the Creek, along the edges and in the middle of the river as well. Not surprisingly, nymphs have been steady producers, with the Duracell, Olive Micro Dot and Orange Spot PT Jigs working very well. Get them a little deeper in the sunshine, and make sure to work the water well. With low water and sunshine, the fish are stacked up in the prime spots, so make sure the fish get a chance to see your fly.
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Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 8/7

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

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

Hoot Owl restrictions are in place along the entire Bitterroot, from the confluence of the East and West Forks to the confluence at the Clark Fork. Hoot Owl hours do not allow fishing from 2:00 PM to midnight, so get out early if you’re heading to the Bitterroot.
The tricos have definitely established along the Bitterroot, and there are still some straggling PMD’s that will move fish, so have them with you. A CDC Thorax Trico or a Don King Trico have been working on the Bitterroot, as has the Gould’s Sunken Trico. If you use a Sunken Trico, drop it off a size 18 Royal Wulff (you’ll be surprised how many risers take the Royal Wulff) so you can locate the dropper. Use anywhere from 3-6 inches of dropper to control the depth.
The golden stones are almost gone, but are being replaced by the Hopper. A tan hopper, like the Morrish or the Tan Henneberry will work as both a Golden or a hopper. The Pink Thunder Thighs and the Juicy Hopper are also moving fish, and those two will also float a decent sized dropper. Don’t focus exclusively on Hoppers- other terrestrials are also working very well. The Micro Chubby in Tan and Gold are working well as a beetle, and the Ant Acid in Purple is taking fish as well.
When you go subsurface, try a Copper Top Duracell, a G Kes or a Tungsten Jig Pheasant Tail, all in a 14-16. Make sure your dropper is long enough to get the fly to the bottom, because wit the warmer water, the fish are hugging the bottom. When you hook a fish on a nymph, play it hard and fast, to get it back to the bottom quickly. If you’re wading, move out of the warmer water along the edges and release the trout in the cooler water away from the bank. Work the riffles hard with a nymph- lots more fish there than you think due to oxygenation.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is fishing well along its length, having benefitted from the extended run-off, though getting a bit low for hard boats. Remember it’s inner tube season, so if you’re thinking of fishing the lower sections, get on at dawn and be ready to be off by 11:00, when the inner tube hatch begins.
Tricos are hatching on the Blackfoot, the trick is to find a place where bigger fish are rising. If you do, the Female Trico Spinner or the Hi-Viz are very effective. Sporadic Spruce Moths are being seen, so have those with you. If you don’t have any, a simple Tan Caddis will do the trick. The Goldens are still working, but they’re waning, so use what you have. Make sure to have a few Hoppers as well, including the Morrish Hopper in Purple, as well as the Tan Thunder Thighs and the Juicy Hopper.
Don’t sleep on the Attractor Fly fishing up here as well. It’s a great time to run the Hippie Stomper, Stubby Chubbies and the good old Royal Wulff. The fish are hungry and food is scarce, so a well placed dry will definitely spur on the interest.
If you plan to run a smaller dropper, it’s just as important to lengthen the dropper length as it is to get the right fly. A simple Tungsten Jig Pheasant Tail, Caramel Jig or a Hare’s Ear Jig are working well. Truthfully, since most of the nymphs have hatched out, almost any well drifted nymph at the correct depth will work. If you want to throw a bigger nymph, like a Tungsten Zirdle or a TJ Hooker, you’re going to want to use an indicator. 6 feet is not too deep to set the indicator- the fish are belly hugging the bottom in the deeper pools. Fight the fish hard, and fight them fast to get them back to their homes quickly.
We’ve also had some decent action on streamers in the last week. A White Sculpzilla and the White Mini Dungeon have been moving fish, as has the Skiddish Smolt and the Tungsten Found Ya Bugger.
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Clark Fork River

There are Hoot Owl restrictions on the Clark Fork River, specifically from the confluence of the Bitterroot to the confluence of the Flathead, and from Warm Springs to the confluence of Flint Creek. When Hoot Owl hours are in effect, there is no fishing from 2:00 PM to midnight, to avoid stressing the fish in the heat of the day.
With that said, the Clark Fork has been fishing well in the middle and lower sections. The tricos are now consistent in the morning, and there are still a few pods of fish taking the last of the PMD’s. The Hi-Viz Trico spinner is always a good choice for finding your fly, and drop a Female Trico Spinner or a CDC Thorax Trico behind it. Clark Fork fish can get a bit fussy about the Hi-Viz, especially the big ones, but you can use it to sight in the floating dropper.
Hoppers are starting to be eaten as well, and they are blending in with the almost done Golden Stones. The fish are still looking up for a big floater, so have a Morrish Hopper Tan or a Henneberry Tan to do double duty. The Tan Parachute Hopper has stayed hot from last year, as has the Sweetwater Hopper. Don’t forget the other terrestrials! The Ant Acid in Brown and Purple are working well, as is the Stubby Chubby in Cinnamon and Purple. It’s terrestrial time, so take advantage.
Subsurface, a smaller jig nymph like the Yellow Spot Jig, the G Kes or the Bullet Quill is working. Since most of the nymphs have just hatched out, there’s not a lot of food available to the trout. Just as important as the fly selection is the length of your dropper. That 2’ dropper that’s so easy to cast should be lengthened to about 3.5-4 feet. The fly needs to get the fish that are hugging the bottom. The annoyance of casting the long dropper will be balanced by more fish. Fluorocarbon leader is preferred at this point, since the water is so clear.
On the lower Clark Fork, a Brown Pat’s Rubberlegs or a TJ Hooker will work very well as the point on a double nymph rig. Those flies work best deep, so set your indicator about 7 feet from the fly. Drop a smaller fly off the bottom of the Pat’s to double your chances.
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Rock Creek

Rock Creek is fishing very well along the length, mostly due to the high gradient and good oxygenation. You should still fight the fish quickly to minimize stress in the heat, but that’s a strategy that should be employed at all times, not just in the heat of the summer.
There are still a few straggling PMD’s, and the Tricos are also appearing. As always, the trick on Rock creek is to find a place where the fish are eating Tricos. If you know of a place (and don’t tell anyone!) a simple Hi-Viz Spinner or CDC Thorax will get the fish moving. Nothing fancy in flies- it’s finding them that takes the time.
Still a few straggling Golden Stones, and those will meld into hopper fishing. A Tan Morrish Hopper or Sweetwater Hopper have been working up here, doing a bit of double duty in the imitation department. If you’re looking for a more specific hopper pattern, the Tan Parachute or Tan Henneberry have been producing. Don’t forget the other terrestrials as well. The Black or Purple Ant Acid have been great along the edges, and the Stubby Chubby is proving to be an excellent beetle imitation under the trees. A few random Spruce Moths are being seen, so have your Tan Caddis. Have them anyways, because the caddis are still coming out at dusk.
It’s also fun to run Attractor dries at this time of year. A big Royal Wulff, Yellow Stimulator or a big foamie will pull fish up to eat. If you run a big foamie, drop a smaller Hare’s Ear jig or a Yellow Spot Jig underneath for more action. Make sure your dropper is a bit longer than you want it to make sure you’re getting where the fish are. If you deciode to run a bigger nymph, like a Pat’s Rubberlegs or a Black Double Bead Stone, use an indicator to make sure the fly gets deep enough.
A well placed streamer is also producing in the deeper pools. A Gold/Silver Kreelix has been quite successful, and of course the Sparkle Minnow is still money on Rock Creek. And if big flies are on your mind, step out after dark with a mouse and see what some of the bigger fish are doing. This is the time for mousing, and Rock Creek has a lot of fish that are active at night.
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Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 7/21

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

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot is dropping like a stone, which is excellent news for the wading angler. Still enough water for the floaters, but now waders can really get into the game as well. Water temps are holding decently, due to the cooler nights, and we expect that to hold for the season.
The Golden Stones are still coming out in numbers, as are the Yellow Sallies. This late in the season, go with the lower floating, more natural colored imitations like the Henry’s Fork Golden, Rogue Stone or the Demoe’s Mill Creek. The PMD’s and PED’s are strong as well, so have some Keller’s Rocky Mountain PMD’s and Parachute PMD’s for the adults, backed up with the PMD Film Critic for the emerger/cripple. Those bugs will work for the PED’s as well. If you’re out at dawn or dusk, make sure to have your Rusty Spinners with you to cover the spinner fall.
Caddis are being seen in the evening, so carry your caddis as well. Hoppers, ants and beetles are being taken as the hatches ebb and flow during the day. Keep your hoppers small and golden golden stone colored to do double duty on the water.
Sub-surface the basics are working extremely well. Smaller TJ Hookers, the G Kes, Jioggy Yellow Sally and the Orange Spot PT Jig are all very effective right now. Early and late in the day, a smaller, light weight streamer will move the larger fish. The Bitterroot is fishing very well right now.
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Blackfoot River

There are still remnants of the Salmon Flies hatch on the upper, upper stretches, so if you’re going high, make sure to have them. It’s still the Golden Stones that are the hottest fly. Make sure to have low floating flies in subdues colors. The Henry’s Fork Stone, Rasta Golden and the Emma’s Stone are great low floaters that will float a smaller dropper. The Yellow Sallies are also out in force, and a double dry with a Rolling Stone Yellow Sally will pay dividends. The PMD’s are still very active, as are the PED’s and Tan Caddis. Make sure to have some PMD Film Critics and the D&D Cripple, as well as some Parachutes for the adults. The X- Caddis and the basic Brown Elk Hair are working when the caddis are out.
The TJ Hooker and Natural Tungsten Zirdle are very good subsurface right now, as is the Jiggy Yellow Sally, the Tungsten Jig Assassin and the PT Jig. Use as long a dropper as you can stand, or to be more effective, go double nymph with a large and small fly. Streamers are still viable all day, especially from the boat, but smaller and more accurately placed my be better than a big streamer just close to the target.
The wading is starting to come around on the Blackfoot, with more spots becoming available as the water drops. Still better to go higher up the river, but the wading is getting better. If you plan on floating low, do it early in the day- the innertube hatch is getting strong as well!
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Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork is rounding into shape very nicely, with pods of fish setting up for the PMD and PED hatches. Make sure to have some D&D or Flash Cripples and the PMD Film Critic to supplement the basic PMD Parachute, as the fish can get snooty quickly. If those don’t work quickly, switch to a Rusty Spinner to bring up the fish count.
The Golden Stones are still very important, and if you don’t have pods, put on a subtle Golden like the Henry’s Fork or the Rogue Golden and search with those. Drop a Yellow Sally off the rear to increase your chances, and so you have an idea where that little fly might be.
Subsurface, the Brown Pat’s Rubberlegs as deep as you can drop it has been very strong, as has a TJ Hooker. The Orange Spot PT Jig, the G Kes and the Silverman Red Tag Yellow Sally Jig have also been very effective. Not many people throwing streamers, which shouldn’t deter you if you want to throw them. Get them deep and the fish are taking them.
The Clark Fork is dropping, but the wading opportunities are still not as easily found. The upper Clark Fork is where to head if you’re on your feet.
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Rock Creek

Yellow Sallies and Golden Stones are still the top producers on Rock Creek right now, with PMD’s and PED’s also coming off with regularity. Again, subdued colors in smaller sizes are the more effective right now. The Rogue Stone, Henry’s Fork Golden and the Rasta are consistently effective up here. The Yellow Sally Rolling Stone and the Chubby Silvey Sally (with some brown marker on the body to dull the color) have been making excellent droppers on a double dry rig.
The Kellers Rocky Mountain PMD and the Tiltwing PMD have been strong during the PMD and PED hatch, as have the D&D Cripple. If you’re going to be out late or early, make sure to have your Rusty Spinners in a size 16. They’ve also been most effective.
The Tan caddis has been very effective all day on Rock Creek, not just during the hatch. Use a Brown Elk Hair caddis as a searching pattern all day, and an X-Caddis when the hatch is on. You can also search with terrestrials, which have been effective as well. If you choose to search with a hopper, stick to a tan hopper so it does double duty as a stonefly as well.
The size 12 Tungsten Natural Zirdle and the Tan/Brown TJ Hooker have been producing sub-surface, as has the Orange Spot Jig, the G Kes and the PT Jig. Streamers have been moving fish early and late, with a couple anglers reporting good streamer fishing during the day, but they were using sinking leaders. The water is still big on rock Creek, so the farther upstream you go, the easier the wading will be, though the river is dropping quickly along the length.
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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.
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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

The Bitterroot river fly fishing has been slow lately due to the warming weather and rising water. The Flows have leveled off today but with a few 80 degree days in the next few days, it will continue to increase and make conditions even harder. The higher stretches of the bitterroot will be your best bet for may. Just keep your expectations low!
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Blackfoot River

Fly fishing the Blackfoot River has been slow and should continue its upward trend in flows. Nymphing and streamer fishing in soft inside seems will pull a few fish out here and there but don’t expect much for the month of May.
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Clark Fork River

Clark Fork fly fishing is slow going this time of year. The Clark is always the last to come back in to shape and wont be a viable option for most of May.
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Rock Creek

Fly fishing on Rock Creek has been been slow but one of your better options during runoff and the month of May. Focus on soft edges with big stonefly nymph patterns and streamers.
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March 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.