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Fly Fishing for Trophy Trout in Montana USA

by Kate Senn

A fly fishing trip to Montana is always a treasure. Abundant in precious gems, top-notch native trout streams and award-winning national parks, it may take a lifetime to pursue all of the state’s best- especially fish species to catch on a fly rod. Whitefish, arctic grayling,northern pike, bull, cutthroat, rainbow and lake trout are all native to Montana, but chances are you could tap into brook or brown trout, perch and bass fish, too.

Although the state is one of America’s largest, searching for “Blue Ribbon Trout Streams” or a fine alpine lake isn’t difficult. Most of the best fisheries in the state can be found on the western half- all the way north from Canada down to Wyoming.

Top spots to check out include:

  • Livingston

    Buy some flies and take a break in Livingston, Montana- home to where A River Runs Through It was shot and a beautiful stretch of the Yellowstone River. Bozeman and the iconic Yellowstone National Park are also around the corner.
  • Glacier National Park

    Remarkable views bring most tourists to the park but the real pot-of-gold in the park is its waters. Public access is abundant and a variety of sport fish are available for every type of angler to pursue.
  • Kalispell

    Take a drift boat on the Flathead River on your way to Glacier National Park. Accessable best by boat, there are plenty of big fish including native cutthroat trout hiding in deep pools in the Flathead Valley.
  • Missoula

    A thriving downtown with a variety of breweries and fly shops would be enough to convince most people to come to Missoula but its’ proximity to a handful of the best rivers in the country really seals the deal. The Clark Fork, Rock Creek, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot rivers are all within an hour's drive of Montana’s second largest ‘metropolis’ (population: 73,000).

Montana’s Stream Access Law

Unlike in other states such as Colorado, another prime fly fishing destination in the United States, recreational river or stream users (i.e. fishermen) are permitted within waterways up to its high water mark. Meaning, anglers can walk up or downstream so long as they do not enter in from posted private property, or leave the river through private land. If your boots are in water, typically you are not breaking any laws.

State Permits

Throughout three-quarters of a year, during its fishable seasons, Montana welcomes a number of international and national visitors to its treasured fisheries. Salmon fly hatches across various fisheries in June attract dry fly connoisseurs worldwide and local accommodations are full with trout bums eager to follow the rising hatch.

Costs for a non-resident angler begin at $50 for two days of fishing to $111 for an annual fishing license. Not to bad considering it boasts the home waters of Norman Maclean, fly fishing ambassador and author of A River Runs Through it, its preceding and honorary film starring Brad Pitt, learning how to fly cast, and over 450 miles of top-notch “Blue Ribbon” trout waters.



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