Blackfoot River Montana

MONTANA’S BIG BLACKFOOT RIVER

Arguably the most beautiful freestone river in Montana, the “Big” Blackfoot begins high on the Continental Divide between Craig and Missoula.  Numerous headwater creeks tumble from the high peaks and join near the town of Lincoln, where the mainstem becomes a “proper” river. The Blackfoot continues flowing west through the small communities of Ovando, Greenough and Potomac, to it’s confluence with the Clark’s Fork near Missoula. Along the way it gains water and power from smaller streams like the North Fork, Montrose Creek and the Clearwater River, all excellent fisheries in their own right.

It’s a quintessential freestone, with great hatches, diverse scenery and varied geography. You can catch nearly every species of trout that swims in Montana here, but the native Montana Westslope Cutthroat is king. “Cutties” love to rise to dry flies, and the beautiful banks and pocket water of the Blackfoot provide endless targets for the angler. While some don’t considered the Blackfoot to be a “trophy” trout stream, it produces excellent fishing for those who spend the time to know it, and large Cutthroat, Rainbow and Brown trout are caught regularly. Lucky anglers also encounter huge Bull Trout, especially during streamer season. We love to take the short drive “over the hill” to fish this classic river.

BLACKFOOT RIVER FLY FISHING

The Blackfoot River is everything that the Missouri is not. A large, clear mountain freestone that courses through beautiful canyons with snowcapped peaks and lush forests that provide stunning scenery. Native Cutthroat and Bull Trout live here, along with Rainbow and Brown Trout that increase in density as you move downstream. Fishing is simple compared to the technique-intensive Missouri River, and that’s great. On the Blackfoot, attractor dry flies and dry/dropper rigs are the most common methods used (along with the occasional streamer!). It’s a perfect & relaxing alternative to the Missouri River.

Large Trout are caught on the Blackfoot throughout the season, but most days see a lot of 10-14 inch fish, with a few bigger fish mixed in. Dry flies rule here, and we like that. Watching the slow rise of a Cutty to your attractor dry is always fun, but be ready for the occasional big Rainbow, Cutthroat or Brown To make an appearance. The Blackfoot drainage comprises some of the States most important Bull Trout habitat, and It’s not uncommon to see one of these apex predators attack a smaller fish that you’ve hooked. A pretty exciting spectacle!

Fly Fishing Blackfoot River

BLACKFOOT RIVER SEASONS

The Blackfoot is an incredibly diverse and prolific river, and you’ll find most of the classic Northern Rockies hatches during the course of the season. Everything from giant Salmonflies to tiny Trico’s are on the menu. It just depends on when you go.

Spring – from April until runoff begins sometime in May – is “pre-runoff” period on the Blackfoot. Streamers are often the rule, and this may be the best time of year to find a big fish. While streamer fishing is popular, you may find good hatches of Skwalas, March Browns or Baetis if the conditions are right. When they are, morning nymphing is very productive until these mid-day hatches begin. Both dry-dropper and traditional indicator nymphing techniques are used.

During runoff, the Blackfoot becomes un-fishable, Sometimes for as long as a month. There are often small windows of streamer-fishable conditions during runoff, but we typically wait until the river drops a bit and clears up. In June, Salmonflies, Golden Stones and Green Drakes attract most anglers. Later in the summer smaller mayflies and caddis bring fish to the surface, but hoppers are also present. Big attractor dry fishing is always in play on the Blackfoot.

Blackfoot River Report

BOOKING A BLACKFOOT TRIP

Like many Montana freestone rivers, the Blackfoot has times you should hit it, and times you shouldn’t. Our favorites are pre-runoff (April) for some big boy streamer fishing, and post runoff(June-July) for some Salmonfly action. Like many rivers, hitting the Salmonflies is easier said than done, but the anticipation of success is always exciting. September is an underrated time on the Blackfoot. You can have some great dry fly fishing for good sized fish. The higher elevation of the upper Blackfoot means the water temps have cooled, the crowds have thinned, and it’s one of the most pleasant times to enjoy the river. Blackfoot River Montana Fly Fishing is what many people envision when they plan a trip to Montana.1-877-379-3597

BLACKFOOT GEAR

We use both drift boats and rafts to float the Blackfoot, depending on the flows. Mid-summer through fall is raft time, so make sure and bring a dry bag and river sandals or wading boots. Rods typical of Montana – 9′ 5 and 6 weight fast action – are perfect for the Blackfoot. For early season streamer fishing you may want to ramp it up to a 7 weight with a sink tip.

Menu