The now removed Old Steel Bridge still spans the river in the distance. Beginning in the Canadian Rockies north of Glacier National Park, the Flathead flows south through northwestern Montana into Flathead Lake. 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. The Flathead River isn't nearly as popular among anglers as say the Middle Fork or South Fork of the Flathead. Shore fishing is gonna be tough with the high water, old still bridge, and then up in Bad Rock Canyon. Find out where the action is, what the water conditions are and everything you need for a successful day on the water! Be smart! Mid-July through September are going to be the best months. Midges are going to be very helpful in the tailwater areas, but there are variations in the tailwater sections and freestone sections. 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. Numerous rapids exist that can make floating a challenge (see floating information for more detail). 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. Under the bridge, there are a lot of fish. Flathead River Fly Fishing Season. Date of experience: June 2019. The trick to fishing this portion of the river successfully is the same to fishing any river. That said, all of this bad news has had one big upside: very low fishing pressure compared to many other Montana Rivers. Glacier Anglers offers day trips, overnight float trips on the North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River, and multi-day backcountry trips into the Great Bear Wilderness to fish the acclaimed upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River. The main part of the Flathead River begins where the North Fork and the Middle Fork meet near West Glacier. Current fly fishing reports and conditions for North Fork of the Flathead River in Montana! I liked also the Flathead River. For the pike fish with crankbaits and spoons. The result of this is spotty trout fishing. North Fork of the Flathead River Fly Fishing. A hopper during late summer also works well, especially around Kalispell where fields come right up to the river bank. It isn’t always a great place to find fishing. 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. You can get more detailed information about some of these fishing access spots at the Montana FWP Website. The fish in the Flathead River aren’t especially picky about what is thrown at them. 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. Summer is considered to be the prime fishing time in the Flathead. If you plan to fish for the northern pike as well, make sure that you bring strong gear and large flies. Due partly to low fishing pressure, the trout here are not particularly picky. Reservation fishing requires a tribal fishing permit, and all the waters on the reservation, except Flathead Lake, are restricted to 15 hp outboards. Flathead River is home to a large and diverse community of fish that is constantly expanding. The Flathead River is big below Kerr Dam, and more resembles a slow moving lake as it approaches the Clark Fork. Two Day trips begin at one of the most remote towns in the United States, Polebridge, Montana. Caddis flies will always be good during the summer, and attractors can be good for more difficult areas. Almost all of the water in the northern section of the river comes from glacier runoff. Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Montana. 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. Farther down the Flathead River, larger brown trout can also be found. This is about the main stem of the Flathead River. Worthwhile to see! 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 logistics of fishing the Flathead river from a boat are not easy. Fishing at Flathead River. 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. Flathead River . The entire Flathead River is incredibly long, and even this one portion runs 158 miles through northwestern Montana. 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. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard. A hopper during late summer also works well, especially around Kalispell where fields come right up to the river bank. 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). The fishing in this stretch, however, has a chance to become a much better fishery in the years ahead. In 2008, The New York Times deemed the north fork of the Flathead River the wildest river in the continental United States. __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. Below Kerr Dam, the flows of the Flathead River are completely regulated—for power production and not for fishing. All of Montana Fly Fishing Experience’s 1/2 day trips include all equipment, flies, snacks, and drinks. It is also the portion of the river which we will focus on here, as it does provide the best opportunities. Fish the morning and evenings hatches! The unique makeup of the Flathead River makes it somewhat confusing to those who are not familiar with the area. These healthy fish populations allow anglers to target most species in order to partake in the best fishing experience possible. Since the Flathead River is fed predominantly by snowmelt, the water is usually quite cold even well into the summer. Fly fish our secret spots on the beautiful Elk River, Wigwam River, Michel Creek, Bull River and Flathead River. More info about inflatable fishing rafts. However, this section also has numerous splits and forks which make up the difference. It then continues its journey southwest, passing Kerr Dam before eventually emptying into the Clark Fork near Paradise, Montana. Access is difficult on the South Fork of the Flathead River. The scenery is wonderful, the current is steady and float traffic—except on nice summer weekends—is fairly low. While some large rainbow and brown trout do exist, the river below Kerr Dam is considered trophy northern pike waters. Utilizing the services of an outfitter is a great move. Get the DIY Fly Fishing Web App to get turn-by-turn directions to the access points shown on the map above. Buffalo Bridge to Perma – 406-531-0003. The Flathead River is divided into two distinct rivers separated by Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the Western United States. Current fly fishing reports and conditions for Middle Fork of the Flathead River in Montana! Below Flathead Lake, the river is regulated by Kerr Dam, which also regulates the level of Flathead Lake. This makes for incredibly clear water that stays quite cool, even in the middle of summer. 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. Reported by: Sportsman Warehouse Missoula I had the privilege of spending some quality time fishing for flathead catfish with Chris Parrish, the originator of the Muddy River Catfishing Bobber. Flathead River Fishing Guides. The Montana fishing guides at Wild River Adventures began sharing their fishing secrets way back in 1985. By Keith Sutton. More Fishing. 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 is a true predator, a sprinter that can run down the fastest fish. Montana is legendary for its outstanding fly fishing and the waters fished by Glacier Anglers are no exception. 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. Montana Fly Fishing. The Flathead River is a large free flowing river that is generally fished from a boat. Find out where the action is, what the water conditions are and everything you need for a successful day on the water! 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. And then there’s the ecosystem of Flathead Lake, which has changes significantly from what it once was. Bigfork Montana Fly Fishing Report - Fly fishing information for Bigfork and Whitefish Montana on area rivers like the Flathead, Blackfoot, Clark Fork Helpful. The Flathead River flows through the broad and beautiful Flathead Valley near Glacier National Park, Whitefish, MT, and Bigfork, MT. Shore Thing Shuttles – Mainstem above Flathead Lake. The Flathead River begins at the confluence of the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Flathead River. 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. The area below Flathead Lake can prove difficult for fly fishing. A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Stillwater River. For the small mouth try twist tail grubs and Roboworms. The area around Dixon offers the best pike fishing. A large streamer for the fly fisherman or a spoon such as a daredevil for the spin fisherman work well. The South Fork only flows for 5 miles below Hungry Horse Dam before the river ends at the confluence of the Flathead River. A caddis fly (size 12-14) floated over prime territory is always a good bet. We begin the floating portion of our trip on day three. This is especially true in the upper portion of the river, where the largest populations of rainbow trout are to be found. Guns. There are three other Flathead Rivers that are completely separate rivers. 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. In-depth articles help anglers and recreational floaters sort through the jargon to find the right inflatable boat for their particular needs. Fly fishing the Flathead River system provides a healthy population of native Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Bull … Flathead River: Fishing at Flathead River - See 2 traveler reviews, 6 candid photos, and great deals for Kalispell, MT, at Tripadvisor. A side channel on the Flathead River. While there will be plenty of opportunities for rainbows, cutthroats and some browns, the Flathead River is mostly known as being northern pike territory. Montana Fly Fishing Experience guides are the some of the most experienced boatmen on this beautiful stretch of river. 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. In addition to the fishing possibilities, the Flathead has some of the most beautiful scenery and crystal clear water one could hope to find. During the day, trout can also be found down in the river depths. Ideal fishing raft for 1-2 anglers. That was fun! Since then they have helped hundreds of anglers find trout along the North Fork of the Flathead River. Catching these monsters on a fly rod requires strong gear—no wimpy rods or tiny flies. That said, inflatable kayaks, drift boats, inflatable rafts and the occasional pontoon boat are the most popular boats for floating or float fishing the Flathead River. 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. Fishing the South Fork Flathead River Below Hungry Horse Dam. The upper Flathead River, from the lake up to Presentine Bar, is a magical place. Check out our interactive map of over 30,000 of the best places to fly fish in the US. The Flathead River holds a decent population of medium sized rainbow and cutthroat trout. 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. Let’s start with the bad news first. 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. Latest. Below Kerr Dam, the northern pike fishing is excellent, with some largemouth bass, brown trout and some rainbows thrown in to the mix as well. Flathead River Shuttle – 406-890-2600. 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. Below Blakenship Bridge, depending on river flows, several small rapids that have large waves exist that can pose problems for canoes. The upper part of the Flathead River above Flathead Lake offers a relatively easy float. Hatches on the South Fork of the Flathead River include caddis, mayflies, spruce moths, and many terrestrials including hoppers, ants, and beetles. The Local Rivers & Creeks. The water is completely regulated by Kerr Dam for power production, and this can make the fishing spotty at best. The current is generally fast. 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. Copyright 2002 - 2020 Big Sky Fishing.Com. The entire river is made up of three portions, the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork. Finally, mountain whitefish are common all along the Flathead River. Before entering these rapids, be sure to scout them out first. 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. Very tough, portable and easy to setup. 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 2020 DIY Fly Fishing, all rights reserved. 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. 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. 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. Large streamers, strong tippets, heavy weight rods are the rule. Read more about each of these amazing fly fishing … Deer That Never Encounter Humans: How to Shoot a Reclusive Buck. Our float fishing day begins around 9:00 a.m. after a hearty breakfast. The best fly fishing on the lower Flathead River is all located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Day two of the wilderness expedition is generally a somewhat shorter ride ending with afternoon wade fishing on the South Fork of the Flathead. It has a monstrous mouth and can swallow a … A blue-ribbon rainbow trout stream, where 20 inch rainbows lurk waiting for your fly, the Flathead River is not. Beginning in the Canadian Rockies north of Glacier National Park, the Flathead flows south through northwestern Montana into … On some trips, fishing may be available this first evening. 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. The best rainbow trout fishing is found in the first few miles right below the dam. These months are when the flows are most manageable and the weather is cooperating. These small rapids can be bypassed, but the fast current can make it difficult to avoid them. Flathead River Fly Fishing Report Listed below are selected river miles for the Flathead River in Montana. A caddis fly (size 12-14) floated over prime territory is always a good bet. 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 waters of the lake, and much of the river, are regulated by the Kerr Dam, which creates much of the power for the region. Here at Glacier Anglers, we fish both the Middle and North Forks. 406-407-1602. However, some rainbows and browns can still be caught a few miles further south, past the dam. The Flathead River in Montana. Montana Fishing Guides holds all the information you need to ensure success on your next Flathead River fly fishing experience. During summer weekends, you’ll see everything floating down the river. More hatches will continue throughout the summer, and the river can still produce good fly fishing results up through September. If you do not plan to take a shot with these, it might be helpful to avoid the times when they are commonly fished. Caddis flies are very useful during this time, as is often the case. Also, all the islands in this stretch make for great spots to pull over for lunch. Fly Fishing Near Glacier National Park. The Flathead River ends at the confluence with the Clark Fork in the vicinity of Plains, MT. The Old Steel Bridge FAS in Kalispell, MT offers an excellent place to catch whitefish for anglers who do not have a boat. The Flathead River holds a decent population of medium sized rainbow and cutthroat trout. The Flathead River is not the fishery it once was or has the potential to be in the future. 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. Before heading out to fish, you will need to obtain a tribal fishing permit. South of Kalispell, the Flathead River slows considerably and branches off into numerous sloughs. Below the Dam, the flows of the Flathead River vary wildly, and can greatly impact both fishing and floating. The river also has numerous braids and channels in between Columbia Falls and Kalispell. Fly Fishing Glacier National Park | Flathead River | Bigfork Anglers. "The flathead is the king of big rivers," he said. Throw the streamers into the weeds and retrieve it quickly in an erratic motion, mimicking an injured fish swimming. Access for floating is excellent. 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. 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. However, a s the water recedes throughout the summer , the high elevation snow melt diminishes , and this large and broad river lends itself to great walk and wade fishing. 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. April 26, 2018. The best time to fish for these beasts is during the spring and fall when they cruise the shallows. A few to check out are listed below. River systems with consistently flowing water produce the state’s best big flathead catfish fishing. The Flathead River is a large river. There are also some rainbow trout, lake trout, and whitefish in the rivers. There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Flathead River fishing reports. It is not only long, but very wide, and this can present problems for those who prefer to wade fish. 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. Flathead River Fly Fishing. It is gorgeous! 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. Hunting. The river is wide and frequently quite deep. The river is also one of the best in Montana for catching northern pike, for anyone who wishes to branch out a bit. Above Flathead Lake, the Flathead River flows quickly and is quite wide by Montana standards. 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. To get at them, use a prince nymph with a sink-tip line and weights, bouncing it along the bottom. Below Kerr Dam, the Flathead River flows through a canyon. Get directions to access points, boat ramps, and real-time USGS stream flow data. Read more. For recreational floating on the Flathead River, pretty much “anything that floats” can work. Find the pools and holes that are behind large rocks, along bank cover, near downed trees and in other areas. "I sometimes hear people call it 'mud cat,' but I assure you it doesn't deserve that title like a lowly bullhead. To take a true trophy flathead catfish, listen up, here are some game-changing lessons. Enjoy dry fly fishing for native westslope cutthroat trout while floating down this glacial influenced gin clear western freestone. 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). The seasonal fishing of the Flathead River follows similar patterns to the other rivers in Montana. Fishing. However, one guy showed us where to fish. Dog-Sized Lizards are Taking Over in the Southern U.S. To truly experience the Flathead, you want to make sure you visit later in the summer. Pale morning duns, blue-winged olives and others are very important at this time of year. 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. Bull trout can also be found in the river du… 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. The islands and braids make any float down the Flathead River enjoyable. Trout fishing is catch-and-release and pike must be over 24 inches to keep. Large streamers, strong tippets and heavy rods will be necessary. Hunting. Fly fishing the Flathead River does not require exact fly imitations nor does it require perfect technique. Typically, we start fishing both rivers in late June through September using dry flies. But it’s the pike that draws anglers. And float traffic—except on nice summer weekends—is fairly low best pike fishing there are a lot of fish Adventures sharing. The tribes allow fishing year-round on the beautiful Elk River, where 20 rainbows... 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