Fishing paradise

Montana has more miles of wild trout rivers than any other state in the lower 48, making it an ideal location for fly fishing.

photo by Nelson Kenter Kenterphotography.com

Fishing

Depending on who you talk to, fishing – particularly fly-fishing – is the holy grail of Western Montana outdoor activities.

Immortalized in Norman Maclean’s beloved novella, “A River Runs Through It” – and later made famous in Robert Redford’s film adaptation starring Brad Pitt – fly fishing is one of this region’s most popular outdoor activities.

Montana has more miles of wild trout rivers than any other state in the lower 48, the vast majority of which are in Western Montana.

With dozen’s of outfitters and guides in the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys and 25 distinct full-day floats within one hour’s drive from town, Missoula is ground zero of trout fishing paradise.

Rainbows, browns, cutty’s, brookies, and more are alive and well—particularly in the Blackfoot river, which has made great strides in conservation within the last three decades.

Fly-fishing isn’t the only angling done around here, though. Numerous lakes in the area offer bait fishermen plentiful opportunities to land the big one. Seeley Lake and Swan Lake are popular summer vacation destinations and are both a short drive from Missoula.

During the frigid winter months, don’t expect us to simply hang up our rod n’ reel in favor of the fresh powder at Snow Bowl—ice fisherman dot the white landscape on frozen lakes all over western Montana.

If you do decide to brave the cold and wet a line, seek out a guide or knowledgeable local fisherman to take you on your first trip. Year-round, outfitter and guide information is readily available, but be sure to book your trip early because they fill up fast.

And don’t forget to capture the ‘Kodak moment’ when you land your first trout—just make sure you ask your guide how to properly hold the fish for the photo op… he or she will know what we mean.

Mid Summer Missoula Fishing Report

By TONY REINHARDT -The season is flying by! The fishing has been great ... more

Going Home Again

By ROB BREEDING - I went back to one former home recently, my old stomp... more

Do the Right Thing

By ROB BREEDING - The fish that were in Montana first are worthy of our... more

Summer Dry Fly Season in Missoula

By TONY REINHARDT - It seems that we have gone from spring to summer overnight in Missoula and the fly fishing transition has happened just as quickly--now is the time to get into the river.... more

FWP, Anglers Work Together to End Illegal fish Introductions

Montana fisheries officials and major statewide angling groups signed an agreement recently aimed at curbing the spread of illegal fish introductions into state waters.... more

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Summer Workshop August 1-3

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' popular Becoming an Outdoors-Woman summer workshop is set for August 1-3 at Boulder Hot Springs near Boulder.... more

The Next Generation–Take a Kid Fishing!

By TONY REINHARDT - Do you remember the first time you went fishing, or the first fish you caught? Odds are it was a father, grandpa, or mentor who took you out on that first trip. ... more

Meat in Tube Form

By ROB BREEDING - Bologna gets a bad rap, probably because there’s so much lousy product crowding the deli sections of American grocery stores. But made well, it’s a fine sausage.... more

High Water Fishing Options in Western Montana

By TONY REINHARDT -Got the fishing bug? Wonder where can you scratch the itch in the middle of run-off season? The key to success this time of year lies more in your computer or smart phone than in your fly bo... more

Entirely Genetic Bliss

By ROB BREEDING - Rainbow trout don’t belong here. Still, I just can’t seem to quit them. Rainbows may be the most popular gamefish in the Rocky Mountain region, but this is westslope and Yellowstone cutthr... more

Time to Catch a Rainbow

By BRUCE AUCHLY - Want a fishing tip? Rainbow trout are spawning. Run, don’t walk, to your closest reservoir and start fishing near shore for a rainbow trout. ... more

Skwala Season Has Arrived in Western Montana

By TONY REINHARDT -Skwalamania has arrived in full force in western Montana. This much anticipated event of the fishing season was delayed by record snow and cold in February, but it is finally upon us. ... more

February Blues

By ROB BREEDING - February is the lousiest month on the calendar. It might not be so if I were an ice fisherman or a hockey player. But I’m neither, so my options are limited.... more

Love in the Winter

By BRUCE AUCHLY - Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we bring you those wonderful love birds – great horned owls. That's right, the most impressive owl in North America as a symbol of Valentine’s Day.... more

Winter Survival

By BRUCE AUCHLY - While we can adapt to winter's overdue cold spells, wild animals have three basic strategies for dealing with winter and they are the same each year, no matter the weather.... more

Fly Tying Season

By TONY REINHARDT - I am a fly tying procrastinator which isn’t a good thing in my line of work. As a full time guide I go through a lot of flies between March and October each year.... more

Montana Riffraff Win Again

By ROB BREEDING - You’ve probably heard the most recent attack on Montana’s Stream Access Law has been tossed out by the state Supreme Court. It’s still safe to plan on fishing your favorite river this su... more

Christmas Shopping Suggestions for the Outdoor-Type

By ROB BREEDING - It's hard to buy Christmas gifts for the serious hunter or angler, but here are a few gifts I think most culinary-minded outdoors types would love to find under the tree:... more

Trout Numbers Remain High in Missouri River

By BRUCE AUCHLY - Fish surveys this year indicate rainbow and brown trout numbers remain above the long-term average in the Missouri River between Holter Dam and the town of Cascade, says a state fisheries biol... more

Late Season Solitude

By TONY REINHARDT - This time of year you could have the whole river to yourself, and if you pick your days wisely you could get in 3-4 hours of quality fishing in the afternoon.... more

Agencies Advise Limited Consumption of Some Fish Species Below Mill Site on Clark Fork River

F.Y.I. - Three state agencies today issued fish consumption advisories for northern pike and rainbow trout on a 105-mile stretch of the Clark Fork River in western Montana.... more

The Third Week in September

It's the autumnal equinox, which some equate with death. But for hunters, anglers, and hikers, the third week of September is a time to anticipate, to delight in, to anxiously await. ... more

The Best Season of All

By TONY REINHARDT - It has been a long hot summer in Missoula, MT and we fly fishers eagerly welcome the cool weather of autumn. The next 30 days will offer some of the best dry fly fishing of the season.... more

Fishing Restrictions Lifted on Dearborn, Smith and Sun Rivers

By BRUCE AUCHLY - Fishing restrictions have been lifted on the Dearborn, Smith and Sun rivers in north central Montana, state officials say.... more

Complete Fishing Closure Begins Thursday on Blackfoot River and Tributaries

In an effort to protect fish from the stress of low stream flows, Montana FWP is imposing a complete closure to fishing on the Blackfoot River effective Sept. 5, 2013.... more

Dog Days of Summer Fishing Tips

By TONY REINHARDT - August is typically one of the toughest months for visiting anglers. Hare are several things you can do to stack the deck in your favor and find plenty of Montana’s wild trout. ... more

Comment Sought on Fishing Regulations Changes

The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission is seeking comment on proposed 2014 fishing regulations.... more

Somewhere in the Middle of Montana

By ROB BREEDING. I didn’t toss it all to move to Montana two decades ago because of a song. My primary affliction was trout, and there’s a lot of trout-rich habitat in the Northern Rockies. ... more

Miracle Fish

By ROB BREEDING - I caught a trout the other day. Then another, almost. That second fish exploded out of the water, holding itself above the Flathead River by the fury of its beating tail. ... more

A Midsummer Night’s Stream

By MATT DEVLIN - Picture the river as it lays in wait. In perfect veiled darkness, our finned friends hold like sails in the wind, controlling with every pitch and pull, their own place in the world.... more

Warm Flows Prompt “Hoot-Owl” Fishing on Dearborn, Smith and Sun Rivers

By BRUCE AUCHLY: Montana FWP has advised anglers on three central Montana rivers that all fishing will close daily from 2 pm to midnight until conditions improve.... more

Summer Heat Has FWP Watching Conditions For Possible Fishing Restrictions

With recent temperatures leaping into the 90s throughout Montana, state fishery officials are gearing up now should the need arise to protect wild fish. ... more

Summer Solstice: Paint it Black

By MATT DEVLIN - (Video) As the summer solstice comes and goes, the days begin a slight but evident bend towards fall. We’ve been getting busy sharing our rivers, our trout, and our love of fly fishing.... more

Missoula – A River Runs Through It

Missoula - a river does indeed run through it. In 1992, the Oscar-winning feature film A River Runs Through It brought notoriety to a town in the Pacific Northwest and the world was introduced to Missoula, Mon... more

Take Her Fishing

By MATT DEVLIN - Take her fishing because she deserves it, to impress her, or to say thank you, or sorry. But Whatever you do, just take her fishing a time or two before the summer.... more

Epic Salmonfly Hatch Predicted for Western Montana Rivers

By BRYCE MCLEAN - By all predictions, the 2013 Salmonfly Hatch should be EPIC! We're talking about all-out crazy, fish eating every cast, don't even finish one beer all day because you don't have time...kind o... more

Montana’s Clark Fork River: A Return to Glory

By BRYCE MCLEAN - As most of you probably already know, they opened up the Clark Fork from Turah to Sharon last week. Just like the rest of Missoula I couldn't wait to fish it...and it didn't disappoint.... more

In Love with a River: Montana’s Bitterroot River

By MATT DEVLIN - (VIDEO) I'm frequently asked which of Montana's rivers is my favorite. My answer: the Bitterroot River--why? Because she's the hardest to catch fish out of. ... more

Back to Missoula and Back to Montana Fly Fishing

By MATT DEVLIN - I've been gone for the past 6 months working in Key West. But the pull of river currents and drifts undisturbed except by eager fish brought me home. God Bless Montana! .... more

Early Runoff: Is the Skwala Hatch Finished? A Rundown of Area Rivers

By BRYCE MCLEAN - Here's a complete run down of the areas rivers so you can make an educated decision on where you want to fish this week.... more

The Mighty Missouri: My All Time Favorite Trout River

By BRYCE MCLEAN - As much as I love the movie "A River Runs Through it" and as amazing as the fishing on the Blackfoot can be, my all-time favorite trout stream Has to be the Missouri.... more

The Elusive Skwala Hatch

By BRYCE MCLEAN - I have been fishing the skwala hatch since I was 10 years old. And after all that time I've learned: If you think you "definitely" know when it's going to happen, you are most certainly going ... more

The Fish It Guide to Fall Flies

By MATT DEVLIN - The pigskin is flying, the leaves are a’changing, the trout aren’t so willing in the morning. Fall's arrived. Here are the best flies for the season.... more

The Year of the Big Blackfoot

By BRYCE MCLEAN - The Blackfoot River has once again risen to the top of many anglers' lists of the greatest trout streams in North America, and it has been sweet.... more

The Perfect Pair: Montana Craft Beers & Fly Fishing

By MATT DEVLIN & BRYCE MCLEAN - There's no better way to beat the heat than enjoying a cold beer while flyfishing. Here are our favorite local beer and river pairings.... more

Missouri River Fly Fishing, the Best in America

By BRYCE MCLEAN - I'm lucky to say I learned to fly fish on the mighty Missouri River. Last weekend, I was reminded why the river is the best dry fly fishing in America.... more

Exploring the Teller National Wildlife Refuge

By BRIAN D'AMBROSIO - Teller National Wildlife Refuge, with its 1,200 acres of tranquil beauty in the Bitterroot Valley near Corvallis, is Montana’s only private refuge. ... more

One of Those Flyfishing Days

By MATT DEVLIN Well, I’ve thought for a while now that a flyfisher gets around five perfect days of fishing the Salmonfly hatch in his or her entire life. I’ve got three left now by those calculations... more

A Flyfishing Dream Fulfilled

By BRYCE MCLEAN - Take it from me, go to Belize with a fly rod. There's no place like it. And there are few things like seeing 100 bonefish feeding 60 feet off your boat.... more

Spring Flyfishing Highlights and the Pursuit of a Dream

By BRYCE MCLEAN - (VIDEO) My dad, brother, and I have long dreamt of catching some big 'uns on a salt water fishing trip. The dream will soon be reality.... more

Spring Runoff: Big Wheels Keep on Turnin’

By MATT DEVLIN - When the rivers are blown and life is playing like a bad country song, there's only one thing to do: Ride it out in hope of clear, trout-filled waters.... more

How to Escape the Boat Hatch

By BRYCE MCLEAN - It's no mystery that spring brings good dry fly fishing the Bitterroot. But to escape the crowds, you've gotta venture to other rivers around Western Montana.... more

Zen and the Art of Not Fishing At All

By BRYCE MCLEAN - The other day, I was reminded of one of the great traditions of fly fishing: Not fishing at all, but just enjoying the scenery and watching the river flow by.... more

It’s Skwala Season on the Bitterroot River

By BRYCE MCLEAN - It's a special time of year to fish in Montana. When you look through snowflakes to see a 22-inch brown come up for a dry fly, you'll know what I mean.... more

Skwala Time

By ROB BREEDING. We’re just barely breaking the shackles of winter but things are about to turn on for fly fishers. March heralds the arrival of one of Montana’s great hatches: skwala stoneflies on the Bitt... more

Ice Fishing: The Aromatic Sport of Kings

By BOB WIRE - In the winter, I’m usually an indoorsy guy. But every winter, three buddies and I undertake the elaborate intelligence test we like to call ice fishing.... more

Fly Fishing Film Tour This Friday at the Wilma

By BRYCE MCLEAN - The Fly Fishing Film Tour is this Friday at the Wilma!... more

Don’t Underestimate Fishing in Winter in Montana

By BRYCE MCLEAN - People often underestimate winter fishing in Montana. Sure, you might go 4 days without catching a fish, but on the fifth day, you might catch the biggest trout of your life. ... more

River to Table: A “Blast and Cast” Trout and Duck Harvest

By BRYCE MCLEAN and MATT DEVLIN - As big game season comes to an end, we find ourselves looking for other ways to spend our weekends. Fortunately, fishing season lives on and duck season still has two months to... more

Fall is for Swinging for Steelhead

By MATT DEVLIN and BRYCE MCLEAN - Fly-fishing for steelhead trout in the high-desert hills of eastern Idaho is all one could ever ask it to be.... more

Best Brown Trout Flies for Spawning Season

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN. This weekend was the opening weekend of this year’s big game hunting season--one of the best weekends of the year. Unfortunately it falls during some of the best streamer fishin... more

Fly Fishing . . . the Comedy of Tragedy

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN. Shakespeare was a fly fisherman. This claim is in no way academically nor historically supported, but he must have drawn his dichotomous inspiration from somewhere. And I’ll l... more

Don’t Hang Up the Rod and Reel Just Yet…

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN. All we can say is don’t hang up the rod and reel on account of the calendar. When it comes to fly fishing in western Montana, you sort of can’t go wrong these days--just kind... more

Fall Fly Fishing in Western Montana

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN. What is the best time to fish in Montana? I hear this question all the time, and my answer is always the same: September and that will never change. ... more

One-Way Ticket to Brown Town — Ode to Brown Trout

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN. Their habits are clandestine, their legend strong, and their choice in living accommodations impeccable. The word brown falls pitifully short when describing these stream kings. ... more

The Four Stages of Fly Fishing

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN. A wise man once told me that every fly fisherman goes through 4 distinct stages throughout their fishing life. At first I thought that he was simply spitting B.S., but I have rec... more

The Trip of All Trout Fishing Trips

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN. Every year we pile in to our trucks and take off across Montana for a week of absolute trout fishing chaos. This year seemed to be more chaotic than any other, and it all added up... more

The Great Tube Hatch

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN. As summer wears on in earnest, the air and water temperatures approach each other and Missoulians get hot. What do Missoulians do when they get hot? Well they pile into the rive... more

The Year of the Twomper Trout

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN.Twomper is a term in fishing that you probably have never heard before. That’s because it’s a word made up, and used by trout bums from the Bitterroot Valley. It refers to an... more

The Advent of Stoneflies and 84-Years-Young

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN. Life is good. As I hooked the third or fourth fish of the day yesterday my friend exclaimed “Can you believe we live here?” The truth is some days I can’t. Bryce and I ha... more

There’s Light at the End of the Missoula Fly Fishing Tunnel

By BRYCE MCLEAN & MATT DEVLIN. Well everyone, the wait for our summer fishing season is finally coming to an end. The rivers are still really big, but they are on the drop for good this time. Green drakes hav... more

Missouri River Fishing – Trout Mecca of Montana

ALL NEW FISH IT BLOG! By Bryce McLean and Matt Devlin. This is truly a spring runoff to remember, but there is one place that has remained fishable throughout this entire spring. The Missouri, a.k.a. the Might... more

Water, Water, Water – Fly Fishing Season is When?

ALL NEW FISH IT BLOG! By Bryce McLean and Matt Devlin. As spring gives way to, well, more spring here in Western Montana, fly rods sit collecting dust. Fishermen and Guides around the state are watching in di... more

No Place Like Missoula in the Fall

Blog by "Captain Catchem" Mark Ward. When someone from out-of-state thinks about Montana’s unique scenery,... more

Montana Natural History Center

The Montana Natural History Center helps cultivate the understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of nature through education. With a variety of programs for all ages, the Center helps both children a... more