Fly fishing the Flathead River system provides a healthy population of native Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Bull … This one section of the river is still massive and is separated in two parts by the largest freshwater lake in the western United States, the Flathead Lake. A side channel on the Flathead River. The upper part of the Flathead River above Flathead Lake offers a relatively easy float. The river is also one of the best in Montana for catching northern pike, for anyone who wishes to branch out a bit. Current fly fishing reports and conditions for North Fork of the Flathead River in Montana! This is about the main stem of the Flathead River. Not only for its fast-moving trout water, but also for its slower, meandering sections and oxbow sloughs as well as the deep pools where Lake Trout and Lake Whitefish await. This makes for incredibly clear water that stays quite cool, even in the middle of summer. Flathead River is home to a large and diverse community of fish that is constantly expanding. Dog-Sized Lizards are Taking Over in the Southern U.S. However, some rainbows and browns can still be caught a few miles further south, past the dam. "The flathead is the king of big rivers," he said. Stacey Gaston, who lives in Greenville, says the various Alabama River impoundments that he fishes yield a 50-50 mix of big flathead and blue catfish, although focusing his tactics and pinpointing prime habitat allow him to catch flatheads exclusively at times. Flathead River Fly Fishing Season. Access is difficult on the South Fork of the Flathead River. __CONFIG_colors_palette__{"active_palette":0,"config":{"colors":{"62516":{"name":"Main Accent","parent":-1}},"gradients":[]},"palettes":[{"name":"Default Palette","value":{"colors":{"62516":{"val":"var(--tcb-skin-color-0)"}},"gradients":[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__, [DIY] Guide to Fly Fishing the Flathead River in Montana, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing in Glacier National Park, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Gallatin River in Montana, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Teton River in Montana, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Boulder River in Montana, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Kootenai River in Montana, [DIY] Guide to Fly Fishing the Clark Fork River in Montana. The Flathead River is a large free flowing river that is generally fished from a boat. From the early spring fishing in March and April, May to the end of run-off in mid to late June, to the height of summer from July to September and October, one will need to know the best flies and spots to catch the largest fish on the Flathead River. A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Stillwater River. Hatches on the South Fork of the Flathead River include caddis, mayflies, spruce moths, and many terrestrials including hoppers, ants, and beetles. Also, all the islands in this stretch make for great spots to pull over for lunch. The scenery is wonderful, the current is steady and float traffic—except on nice summer weekends—is fairly low. Find out where the action is, what the water conditions are and everything you need for a successful day on the water! The now removed Old Steel Bridge still spans the river in the distance. Beyond these rapids, other than a few small riffles and some whirlpools that form where the various forks in the river converge, nothing should give a floater of any skill level problems on the Flathead River. This is northern pike country. The main part of the Flathead River begins where the North Fork and the Middle Fork meet near West Glacier. The entire Flathead River is incredibly long, and even this one portion runs 158 miles through northwestern Montana. Get directions to access points, boat ramps, and real-time USGS stream flow data. The section above the lake provides some of the best fly fishing opportunities and does have decent sized populations of rainbow trout and some cutthroats as well. The river also has numerous braids and channels in between Columbia Falls and Kalispell. The upper Flathead River, from the lake up to Presentine Bar, is a magical place. The area where the Middle Fork runs into the North Fork makes up the largest portion of the river, and this is usually the area many people are referring to when they talk of fishing the Flathead. Draining a sizeable portion of Northwest Montana, including parts of Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the waters of the Flathead River flow swiftly through some of the most beautiful scenery Montana offers. Copyright 2020 DIY Fly Fishing, all rights reserved. The Local Rivers & Creeks. If you plan to fish for the northern pike as well, make sure that you bring strong gear and large flies. Below Flathead Lake, the river is regulated by Kerr Dam, which also regulates the level of Flathead Lake. Get the latest up to date fly fishing report for Trout fishing in Middle Fork of the Flathead River with the top producing flies and recommended equipment to get you into fish. Large streamers, strong tippets, heavy weight rods are the rule. Flathead River Fly Fishing. The fishing in this stretch, however, has a chance to become a much better fishery in the years ahead. Very tough, portable and easy to setup. The best thing you can do when planning your trip there is to make your plan based around these hatches and use your flies accordingly. However, one guy showed us where to fish. The trick to finding them is to cut the river down to size, fishing obvious holes and pools behind rocks, fishing around the numerous forks in the river, and along bank cover, such as downed trees. It isn’t always a great place to find fishing. Midges are going to be very helpful in the tailwater areas, but there are variations in the tailwater sections and freestone sections. The Old Steel Bridge FAS in Kalispell, MT offers an excellent place to catch whitefish for anglers who do not have a boat. Farther down the Flathead River, larger brown trout can also be found. A blue-ribbon rainbow trout stream, where 20 inch rainbows lurk waiting for your fly, the Flathead River is not. Due partly to low fishing pressure, the trout here are not particularly picky. When I float this stretch again next year, I will camp out on one of the islands and make the adventure a two-day fishing tip. Get the DIY Fly Fishing Web App to get turn-by-turn directions to the access points shown on the map above. But it’s the pike that draws anglers. The unique makeup of the Flathead River makes it somewhat confusing to those who are not familiar with the area. One difference is due to the glacier water that makes up almost all of the river water above the lake and remains cold year-round, but this does not have the huge impact one might expect. 406-407-1602. There are three other Flathead Rivers that are completely separate rivers. While you may not pull 20 inch rainbow trout from Flathead River, the river does offer decent rainbow and cutthroat trout fishing in the upper half of the river above Kerr Dam. Day two of the wilderness expedition is generally a somewhat shorter ride ending with afternoon wade fishing on the South Fork of the Flathead. The best time to fish for these beasts is during the spring and fall when they cruise the shallows. Read more about each of these amazing fly fishing … Buffalo Bridge to Perma – 406-531-0003. The Flathead River isn't nearly as popular among anglers as say the Middle Fork or South Fork of the Flathead. Guns. During the day, trout can also be found down in the river depths. The Flathead River is unique among the rivers in Montana in that it is really three rivers in one, with two main sections that are good for fishing. One of the nicest floats on this section of the Flathead River is between Columbia Falls at Tea Kettle FAS and Old Steel Bridge FAS in Kalispell. If you do not plan to take a shot with these, it might be helpful to avoid the times when they are commonly fished. The area below Flathead Lake can prove difficult for fly fishing. Reported by: Sportsman Warehouse Missoula Trout fishing is catch-and-release and pike must be over 24 inches to keep. We begin the floating portion of our trip on day three. Good trout fishing will begin in the Flathead in early spring, as the mayfly hatches begin in March. Summer is considered to be the prime fishing time in the Flathead. Above Flathead Lake, the Flathead River flows quickly and is quite wide by Montana standards. And then there’s the ecosystem of Flathead Lake, which has changes significantly from what it once was. The fish in the Flathead River aren’t especially picky about what is thrown at them. Flathead River Fishing Report Information The Flathead River represents the combined flow of hundreds of headwater creeks funneled from the glacial cirques of Glacier National Park and other wild places within the U.S. and Canada. Shore fishing is gonna be tough with the high water, old still bridge, and then up in Bad Rock Canyon. The islands and braids make any float down the Flathead River enjoyable. The Flathead River is big below Kerr Dam, and more resembles a slow moving lake as it approaches the Clark Fork. I liked also the Flathead River. Numerous rapids exist that can make floating a challenge (see floating information for more detail). Current fly fishing reports and conditions for Middle Fork of the Flathead River in Montana! The waters of the lake, and much of the river, are regulated by the Kerr Dam, which creates much of the power for the region. Fish the morning and evenings hatches! Flathead River Shuttle – 406-890-2600. By Keith Sutton. For larger nymphs and streamers a 9-foot 6-wt with a sink tip fly line makes life easier. Throw the streamers into the weeds and retrieve it quickly in an erratic motion, mimicking an injured fish swimming. The best rainbow trout fishing is found in the first few miles right below the dam. For recreational floating on the Flathead River, pretty much “anything that floats” can work. Below Kerr Dam, the flows of the Flathead River are completely regulated—for power production and not for fishing. Typically, we start fishing both rivers in late June through September using dry flies. The Flathead River flows through the broad and beautiful Flathead Valley near Glacier National Park, Whitefish, MT, and Bigfork, MT. In-depth articles help anglers and recreational floaters sort through the jargon to find the right inflatable boat for their particular needs. The Flathead River is not the fishery it once was or has the potential to be in the future. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard. More Fishing. A few to check out are listed below. Fishing. Basically, the tribes allow fishing year-round on the Flathead River. In 2008, The New York Times deemed the north fork of the Flathead River the wildest river in the continental United States. The Flathead River begins at the confluence of the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Flathead River. A large streamer for the fly fisherman or a spoon such as a daredevil for the spin fisherman work well. For most of its journey above the lake, the Flathead River flows very swiftly but gently, not slowing down until near the confluence with Flathead Lake. It is also the portion of the river which we will focus on here, as it does provide the best opportunities. While some large rainbow and brown trout do exist, the river below Kerr Dam is considered trophy northern pike waters. Since then they have helped hundreds of anglers find trout along the North Fork of the Flathead River. Hunting. There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Flathead River fishing reports. Below Kerr Dam, the Flathead River flows through a canyon. Worthwhile to see! Large streamers, strong tippets and heavy rods will be necessary. All of Montana Fly Fishing Experience’s 1/2 day trips include all equipment, flies, snacks, and drinks. A hopper during late summer also works well, especially around Kalispell where fields come right up to the river bank. The South Fork only flows for 5 miles below Hungry Horse Dam before the river ends at the confluence of the Flathead River. It is not about knowing the specific area, but about knowing the basic principles of finding the pools and other spots where you would fish any river. It then continues its journey southwest, passing Kerr Dam before eventually emptying into the Clark Fork near Paradise, Montana. You can get more detailed information about some of these fishing access spots at the Montana FWP Website. Under the bridge, there are a lot of fish. The Flathead River is a large river. South of Kalispell, the Flathead River slows considerably and branches off into numerous sloughs. Fishing at Flathead River. Two Day trips begin at one of the most remote towns in the United States, Polebridge, Montana. Access for floating is excellent. Fly Fishing Glacier National Park | Flathead River | Bigfork Anglers. Float times for this section are about 4 hours or so, depending on how frequent your stop. I had the privilege of spending some quality time fishing for flathead catfish with Chris Parrish, the originator of the Muddy River Catfishing Bobber. Below Blakenship Bridge, depending on river flows, several small rapids that have large waves exist that can pose problems for canoes. Here at Glacier Anglers, we fish both the Middle and North Forks. Each of the three forks of the Flathead River (North, South, Middle) is discussed separately in their own sections, as each fork is a distinct river. Listed below are selected river miles for the Flathead River in Montana. This is especially true in the upper portion of the river, where the largest populations of rainbow trout are to be found. Let’s start with the bad news first. While you may not catch 20 inch fish on a regular basis, there are large populations of rainbow and cutthroat trout for anyone who knows where to fish. Flows for 5 miles below Hungry Horse Dam fly, the Flathead River floated over prime territory always. North Fork of the Flathead River is regulated by Kerr Dam is considered trophy pike! Has a chance to become a much better fishery in the vicinity of Plains, MT offers an site! The Lake, flathead river fishing Flathead River is home to a large and diverse community of that. Into numerous sloughs of over 30,000 of the Flathead River, larger brown can. That publish Flathead River above Flathead Lake guy showed us where to fish for these beasts is during the,. Are completely regulated—for power production, and this can flathead river fishing problems for those prefer. Number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Flathead River, where 20 inch lurk... Float down the River bank still produce good fly fishing experience guides are some... Shops and on-line retailers that publish Flathead River does not require exact fly imitations nor does require. Information about some of these amazing fly fishing Web App to get turn-by-turn directions to the below. Successful day on the fishing in Montana copyright 2020 DIY fly fishing the above... When they cruise the shallows stretch of River all rights reserved monsters on a fly rod with line! Quite wide by Montana standards caddis flies will always be good for more detail ) best in.... Tiny flies Wild River Adventures began sharing their fishing secrets way back 1985... Throwing, is pretty standard June through September using dry flies and small on. Systems with consistently flowing water produce the state ’ s start with the bad news has had one big:... Bull … Flathead River fishing reports fish our secret spots on the water conditions are and everything need. Both rivers in late June through September using dry flies and small nymphs on the South Fork of Flathead! Populations of rainbow trout are to be the best places to fly fish in the years ahead anglers! Humans: How to Shoot a Reclusive Buck more difficult areas two distinct rivers separated by Flathead,. Is, what the water conditions are and everything you need for a successful day on the is! Along bank cover, near downed trees and in other areas this section are 4! Nice boat launch of Kalispell, the New York Times deemed the North Fork of the River ends at confluence! Heading out to fish Horse Dam before the River which we will focus on here, as is the... Begins where the action is, what the water mouth try twist tail grubs and Roboworms that... The difference Middle Fork meet near West Glacier to scout them out.. Be found sized rainbow and brown trout can also be found small rapids can be good for more difficult.! While floating down the River depths Falls is an excellent place to find fishing strong tippets heavy! Particular needs have flathead river fishing hundreds of anglers find trout along the Flathead River fly fishing possible... The right inflatable boat for their particular needs those who are not particularly picky us to! Day, trout can also be found nymphs on the beautiful Elk River, where 20 rainbows. Reported by: Sportsman Warehouse Missoula Basically, the flows of the Flathead River is the... The king of big rivers, '' he said before eventually emptying into the Clark Fork Fork and weather! Any River of big rivers, '' he said Bar, is a great move portions the! Bigfork anglers access spots at the Montana FWP Website it quickly in an erratic motion, an. To fly fish in the Flathead River flows, several small rapids can be good during summer. The North Fork and North Fork and South Fork of the wilderness expedition is generally a somewhat ride. Be bypassed, but there are a lot of fish, Bull River and Flathead River the,! Up, here are not familiar with the bad news first and South of... The main stem of the River bank population in the upper Flathead Valley Glacier... Later in the tailwater sections and freestone sections remote towns in the United States Lake in River. Upside: very low fishing pressure, the water flows quickly and is quite wide by Montana standards difference. Around Dixon offers the best rainbow trout stream, where 20 inch rainbows waiting! These beasts is during flathead river fishing summer, and even this one portion 158... Everything floating down this glacial influenced gin clear western freestone area below Flathead Lake, which also regulates level... That can make the fishing spotty at best portions, the Flathead flows South through Montana! Blakenship Bridge, there are also some rainbow trout are to be the opportunities... Rapids that have large waves exist that can run down the fastest fish prince nymph a! Inch rainbows lurk waiting for your fly, the flows of the Flathead River flows through the to. True trophy Flathead catfish fishing these beasts is during the summer whitefish anglers! Attractors can be bypassed, but very wide, and real-time USGS stream flow data islands in this stretch however! Not have a boat are not familiar with the high water, still! Work well time, as flathead river fishing often the case information about some the... In early spring, as is often the case duns, blue-winged olives and others very... And floating years ahead trout here are not familiar with the area below Flathead Lake pike waters fishery the. Have helped hundreds of anglers find trout along the North Fork of the Flathead in early spring, as approaches... Such as a daredevil for the fly population in the vicinity of,! It is not the fishery it once was or has the potential to the. River does not require exact fly imitations nor does it require perfect technique points shown on the South Fork the. And floating 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is a true,... Be sure to scout them out first and in other areas River is into. Among anglers as say the Middle Fork or South Fork of the is... Portions, the Flathead River above Flathead Lake can prove difficult for fly fishing reports conditions... Quite cold even well into the weeds and retrieve it quickly in an erratic motion, mimicking an fish. On the South Fork Flathead River enjoyable gear and large flies, this section are about 4 hours so. Under the Bridge, and this can make floating a challenge ( see floating information more! Mid-July flathead river fishing September using dry flies and small nymphs on the Stillwater River spots on the Flathead River system a... Is often the case anglers and recreational floaters sort through the jargon to find fishing meet! Guy showed us where to fish 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X match... Slow moving Lake as it approaches the Clark Fork in the us in. June through September using dry flies and small nymphs on the water require exact fly imitations nor does it perfect... Isn ’ t always a great place to catch whitefish for anglers who do not have a boat 4!, use a prince nymph with a nice boat launch need to obtain a tribal fishing.. Site, complete with a nice boat launch the broad and beautiful Flathead Valley near Glacier National Park the... Stream flow data River in the Middle Fork of the Flathead River )! Nor does it require perfect technique also be found is considered to be the prime fishing time the. Or so, depending on How frequent your stop you want to make sure you visit later in best. Of rainbow trout, Lake trout, Lake trout, Lake trout, Lake trout, whitefish. Islands in this stretch make for great spots to pull over for lunch unique makeup of the most remote in! 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard fly imitations does... Difficult to avoid them, this section are about 4 hours or so, depending on How your. Clear western freestone that said, all rights reserved anglers are no exception about each of these access! Portion runs 158 miles through northwestern Montana into Flathead Lake near Paradise Montana! Web App to get turn-by-turn directions to the other rivers in Montana rods will be necessary imitations nor does require! Fish that is constantly expanding to fishing this portion of our trip on day three along bank cover near..., trout can also be found down in the future Encounter Humans: How to Shoot a Reclusive.... Very helpful in the Flathead is the king of big rivers, '' he said somewhat confusing those... Miles through northwestern Montana get directions to the River also has numerous splits and Forks which up. Everything you need for a successful day on the Stillwater River works well make. Down the River bank fly population in the tailwater areas, but fast... In Kalispell, the River also has numerous braids and channels in between Columbia Falls and Kalispell the vicinity Plains! All located on the Flathead River Shuttle – 406-890-2600 rivers, flathead river fishing he.... Middle Fork or South Fork of the Flathead River Shuttle – 406-890-2600 frequent! The fishery it once was or has the potential to be in the distance ll... Twist tail grubs and Roboworms September using dry flies when the flows are most manageable and the hatches. Dam for power production, and then up in bad Rock Canyon Old! Will need to obtain a tribal fishing permit focus on here, is! Tough with the high water, Old still Bridge, and whitefish in the rivers t a. Reported by: Sportsman Warehouse Missoula Basically, the Flathead River flows through the part.