By Keith Sutton. Reservation fishing requires a tribal fishing permit, and all the waters on the reservation, except Flathead Lake, are restricted to 15 hp outboards. More info about inflatable fishing rafts. 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. Due partly to low fishing pressure, the trout here are not particularly picky. The best fly fishing on the lower Flathead River is all located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. 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. 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. A large streamer for the fly fisherman or a spoon such as a daredevil for the spin fisherman work well. Tea Kettle FAS in Columbia Falls is an excellent site, complete with a nice boat launch. Enjoy dry fly fishing for native westslope cutthroat trout while floating down this glacial influenced gin clear western freestone. 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. Throw the streamers into the weeds and retrieve it quickly in an erratic motion, mimicking an injured fish swimming. The health of the Flathead River is largely determined by two dams (Hungry Horse Dam and Kerr Dam) that regulate river flows and temperatures, and not always to the benefit of the fisherman. Check out our interactive map of over 30,000 of the best places to fly fish in the US. The best time to fish for these beasts is during the spring and fall when they cruise the shallows. A side channel on the Flathead River. Hunting. And then there’s the ecosystem of Flathead Lake, which has changes significantly from what it once was. The fly population in the Flathead River area is very diverse, and the various hatches will have a huge impact on the fishing. If you do not plan to take a shot with these, it might be helpful to avoid the times when they are commonly fished. Float times for this section are about 4 hours or so, depending on how frequent your stop. The deep wide and cold waters of the Flathead River don't offer the best fishing around, but that very reason is what makes this stretch of water a great place to fish. This is about the main stem of the Flathead River. Bigfork Montana Fly Fishing Report - Fly fishing information for Bigfork and Whitefish Montana on area rivers like the Flathead, Blackfoot, Clark Fork Pale morning duns, blue-winged olives and others are very important at this time of year. "I sometimes hear people call it 'mud cat,' but I assure you it doesn't deserve that title like a lowly bullhead. Conditions : Flathead River: The flows are a little high but they have been steady for a while so fishing should be good for the small mouth and pike. 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. The water is completely regulated by Kerr Dam for power production, and this can make the fishing spotty at best. Fishing the South Fork Flathead River Below Hungry Horse Dam. 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. The upper part of the Flathead River above Flathead Lake offers a relatively easy float. Montana Fly Fishing Experience guides are the some of the most experienced boatmen on this beautiful stretch of river. Good trout fishing will begin in the Flathead in early spring, as the mayfly hatches begin in March. It has a monstrous mouth and can swallow a … Basically, the tribes allow fishing year-round on the Flathead River. The Flathead River holds a decent population of medium sized rainbow and cutthroat trout. Get the latest up to date fly fishing report for Trout fishing in North Fork of the Flathead River with the top producing flies and recommended equipment to get you into fish. 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. Reported by: Sportsman Warehouse Missoula Here at Glacier Anglers, we fish both the Middle and North Forks. Finally, mountain whitefish are common all along the Flathead River. There are also some rainbow trout, lake trout, and whitefish in the rivers. Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Montana. Typically, we start fishing both rivers in late June through September using dry flies. Since the Flathead River is fed predominantly by snowmelt, the water is usually quite cold even well into the summer. The fishing in this stretch, however, has a chance to become a much better fishery in the years ahead. Midges are going to be very helpful in the tailwater areas, but there are variations in the tailwater sections and freestone sections. Flathead River Fly Fishing. Bull trout can also be found in the river during the summer as they migrate up from Flathead Lake to their spawning grounds well upstream (remember, no taking of Bull Trout). Before heading out to fish, you will need to obtain a tribal fishing permit. Let’s start with the bad news first. During summer weekends, you’ll see everything floating down the river. Utilizing the services of an outfitter is a great move. 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. Read more about each of these amazing fly fishing … Below Flathead Lake, the river is regulated by Kerr Dam, which also regulates the level of Flathead Lake. The Flathead River is divided into two distinct rivers separated by Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the Western United States. 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. The first seven miles below the canyon are called “Buffalo Rapids.” Depending on current stream flows, several class IV rapids with sizeable waves and holes exist. Copyright 2002 - 2020 Big Sky Fishing.Com. From May 1–June 15 an area extending 400 yards from shore between the Bowman Lake Ranger Station and the outlet of Bowman Lake is closed to fishing to protect spawning westslope cutthroat trout. I liked also the Flathead River. Large streamers, strong tippets, heavy weight rods are the rule. Farther down the Flathead River, larger brown trout can also be found. Above the lake, the Flathead River flows through the upper Flathead Valley, home to such popular towns as Whitefish and Kalispell. Tribal permits are easily obtainable at all local fly fishing shops. 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. Using the same stuff little green jigs with the white tails, Flathead River sloughs are fishing well, Chancey was in Fennin Monday, got a lot of pike and some good ones, did well with rapalas and smelt. 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. The Flathead River system is a unique fishery located around Glacier National Park and is made up of three forks which eventually drain into Flathead Lake. Hatches on the South Fork of the Flathead River include caddis, mayflies, spruce moths, and many terrestrials including hoppers, ants, and beetles. 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. Hunting. You can get more detailed information about some of these fishing access spots at the Montana FWP Website. For the pike fish with crankbaits and spoons. Flathead River Shuttle – 406-890-2600. Caddis and hopper flies will usually provide great results, and some trout can even be found down deeper and caught with prince nymphs and sink-tip line. Copyright 2020 DIY Fly Fishing, all rights reserved. The trick to fishing this portion of the river successfully is the same to fishing any river. We begin the floating portion of our trip on day three. This makes for incredibly clear water that stays quite cool, even in the middle of summer. The current is generally fast. Full and half day trips are available on the Flathead River and our professional guides are eager to lead you down the river both on 1/2 day trips or on a full day of instructional and fun fly fishing. Current fly fishing reports and conditions for North Fork of the Flathead River in Montana! This portion of the river is quite wide by Montana river standards, and it can be difficult for wade fisherman to get the most of it. How to Choose the Best Inflatable Boat for Your Needs, How to Protect Your Phone While Fishing or Floating, Blakenship Bridge (confluence of North and Middle Forks): 158.3, Confluence of the South Fork (Hungry Horse): 148.7, Sportsman Bridge FAS just above Flathead Lake: 107.5, Buffalo Bridge (end of Buffalo Rapids): 65. The Flathead River holds a decent population of medium sized rainbow and cutthroat trout. "The flathead is the king of big rivers," he said. Large streamers, strong tippets and heavy rods will be necessary. 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. Due to the speed, depth and width of the river, wade fishing can be difficult except for later during the summer, and can be downright dangerous at high river flows. This is especially true in the upper portion of the river, where the largest populations of rainbow trout are to be found. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard. It is not only long, but very wide, and this can present problems for those who prefer to wade fish. To top it off, the Flathead River itself is fed primarily by snowmelt, resulting in clear, cold water that has fewer nutrients than many other Montana rivers. 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. The Flathead River ends at the confluence with the Clark Fork in the vicinity of Plains, MT. To take a true trophy flathead catfish, listen up, here are some game-changing lessons. A few to check out are listed below. These months are when the flows are most manageable and the weather is cooperating. While access is generally good along the river, the size of the Flathead River prevents most wade anglers from reaching most of the better fishing holes. Find out where the action is, what the water conditions are and everything you need for a successful day on the water! Caddis flies are very useful during this time, as is often the case. A hopper during late summer also works well, especially around Kalispell where fields come right up to the river bank. A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Stillwater River. 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. The Flathead River in Montana. For recreational floating on the Flathead River, pretty much “anything that floats” can work. Listed below are selected river miles for the Flathead River in Montana. Flathead River is home to a large and diverse community of fish that is constantly expanding. Flathead River: Fishing at Flathead River - See 2 traveler reviews, 6 candid photos, and great deals for Kalispell, MT, at Tripadvisor. Current fly fishing reports and conditions for Middle Fork of the Flathead River in Montana! Below Kerr Dam, the flows of the Flathead River are completely regulated—for power production and not for fishing. That was fun! A hopper during late summer also works well, especially around Kalispell where fields come right up to the river bank. Fly Fishing The Flathead River Montana Before we get started, please note that understanding how the Flathead River is made up can be a little confusing for those that are not familiar with it. Deer That Never Encounter Humans: How to Shoot a Reclusive Buck. It is gorgeous! These small rapids can be bypassed, but the fast current can make it difficult to avoid them. 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. Be smart! More Fishing. Montana Fishing Guides holds all the information you need to ensure success on your next Flathead River fly fishing experience. Very tough, portable and easy to setup. Latest. This is northern pike country. All of Montana Fly Fishing Experience’s 1/2 day trips include all equipment, flies, snacks, and drinks. Due to the variable flows from the dam, what one-day may be a rapid may the next be a big hole and the next completely washed over. Montana Fly Fishing. In addition to the fishing possibilities, the Flathead has some of the most beautiful scenery and crystal clear water one could hope to find. The scenery is wonderful, the current is steady and float traffic—except on nice summer weekends—is fairly low. To get at them, use a prince nymph with a sink-tip line and weights, bouncing it along the bottom. The Flathead River flows through the broad and beautiful Flathead Valley near Glacier National Park, Whitefish, MT, and Bigfork, MT. Catching these monsters on a fly rod requires strong gear—no wimpy rods or tiny flies. Fly Fishing Glacier National Park | Flathead River | Bigfork Anglers. With Montana Fishing Guides, the Flathead River is sure to provide a beautiful and memorable fishing adventure while throwing dry flies through its endless riffles, big river runs, beautiful banks, giant holes and productive bubble lines. South of Kalispell, the Flathead River slows considerably and branches off into numerous sloughs. Fishing at Flathead River. 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. Numerous rapids exist that can make floating a challenge (see floating information for more detail). However, one guy showed us where to fish. Fly fishing the Flathead River system provides a healthy population of native Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Bull … Caddis flies will always be good during the summer, and attractors can be good for more difficult areas. Mid-July through September are going to be the best months. The unique makeup of the Flathead River makes it somewhat confusing to those who are not familiar with the area. Under the bridge, there are a lot of fish. Worthwhile to see! However, this section also has numerous splits and forks which make up the difference. In 2008, The New York Times deemed the north fork of the Flathead River the wildest river in the continental United States. 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. These healthy fish populations allow anglers to target most species in order to partake in the best fishing experience possible. For larger nymphs and streamers a 9-foot 6-wt with a sink tip fly line makes life easier. The entire river is made up of three portions, the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork. During the day, trout can also be found down in the river depths. The Montana fishing guides at Wild River Adventures began sharing their fishing secrets way back in 1985. Buffalo Bridge to Perma – 406-531-0003. Date of experience: June 2019. North Fork of the Flathead River Fly Fishing. 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. Other designated access sites on the Flathead River are Blakenship Bridge, Kokanee Bend (no boat ramp), Pressentine Bar, Old Steel Bridge in Kalispell, Foy’s Bend and Sportsmans Bridge (used mainly for access to Flathead Lake). Shore Thing Shuttles – Mainstem above Flathead Lake. 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 entire Flathead River is incredibly long, and even this one portion runs 158 miles through northwestern Montana. That said, all of this bad news has had one big upside: very low fishing pressure compared to many other Montana Rivers. 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. 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