Clark Fork River Fly Fishing
The Clark Fork boasts nearly 300 miles of meandering trout filled water between the headwaters near Butte and its mouth at Idaho’s Lake Pend Oreille. It would take years to fully explore the fly fishing opportunities this river has to offer…
Named after Captain William Clark of the Corps of Discovery, this major fork of the Columbia River is often referred to as two separate rivers. The upper 125 miles above Missoula and the 120 miles below the confluence of the Blackfoot River to the confluence of the Flathead River near Paradise, Montana.
The upper river grows from a small easily-waded stream at Warm Springs to a modest-sized river by the time it reaches the confluence of the Blackfoot River just above Missoula. The upper Clark Fork has meandering and braided channels with back channels that move from open ranch land into pine forests and cottonwood bottoms as it nears Missoula.The upper section is known for its healthy brown trout population that love to eat foam dry flies and streamers.
The lower Clark Fork is characterized by big riffles and long slow-moving runs. It is a large river best suited to fishing from a boat. The lower Clark Fork is known for its opportunities to cast to large hard fighting that rise to dense hatches of small mayflies. The lower Clark Fork offers dry-fly fishing from April through November. You can expect scenic, big, open-water stretches with long bars and wooded islands, large eddies, deep holes, cottonwood bottoms, and low elevation pine forests with occasional rock outcroppings. The size of this river can be intimidating to most, but our guides are experienced on over 150 miles of this river!
Fly Fishing The Clark Fork River
We focus the large majority of our trips on the lower river near St. Regis. Our guided fly fishing trips on the Clark Fork river are primarily done out of drift boats. We typically focus on dry fly fishing, with dry dropper rigs when necessary. Generally we are blind casting attractor dry fly patterns over likely holding water but we often encounter opportunities to match the hatch over rising fish.
Clark Fork River Fish
The lower Clark Fork River is a rainbow & cutthrout trout fishery with many hybrids (cuttbows) and the occasional brown trout. The fish range between 12-17″ with opportunities for fish approaching the 20″ mark on most trips. These are big river fish and when they feel the hook, they’re off to the races.