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.