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, they undoubtedly imagine high snow-capped mountain peaks, pristine, clear water rivers and creeks, and lakes surrounded by tall pine trees that seem to stretch to the puffy white clouds above. Well, in this case their perception is reality. Montana truly is the last best place and Missoula, which is located in the heart of Western Montana, is surrounded by the best Montana has to offer.

September is a great month to enjoy a day on the Clark Fork, Blackfoot, or Bitterroot rivers. Each river runs through Missoula, so wetting a fly is only minutes away. There are plenty of sporting good stores and fly shops to head you in the right direction with helpful hints on what to offer the trout and where the trout might be waiting.

It truly is a magical time for fly fishermen and women to enjoy the sport of fly fishing and, at the same time, take in the change of colors that fall brings to this part of Montana. Rock Creek, the famous blue ribbon trout stream that is known world-wide, is only 22 miles east of Missoula. Like its bigger river brothers, it too offers some great flyfishing along with fantastic scenery that’s quintessentially Montana.

Lake fishing is not far from Missoula with Flathead Lake, Lake Mary Ronan, Seeley Lake, Swan Lake, Harpers Lake, and Browns Lake all about an hour away. All the area lakes offer good trout fishing with some northern pike and smallmouth bass fishing too!

In fact, the lower Flathead River has some of the best small mouth bass fishing in the state, and at one time claimed the state record smallmouth bass.

Speaking of state records, the largest lake trout ever caught out of Flathead Lake weighed over 42 pounds and it still stands as a state record catch. Flathead Lake is truly a trophy fishery.

It is not unusual in September to see the streets busy with traffic around 5 or 6 o’clock on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Many folks who live in Montana live for hunting, and September is when the shot-gunners and bow hunters start to head out early to their favorite hunting spot.

Hunting and fishing is big business is Montana and many businesses in Missoula feed off of the local and out-of-state sportsmen and women who love to spend time and enjoy their sport. Hotels, sporting goods stores, convenience stores, RV parks, fly shops, and many more retail owners provide good and services.

Missoula is also the home of the world headquarters of two great wild life conservation groups, The Boone and Crocket Club and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF). The RMEF Visitor Center is a must visit for folks traveling through Missoula.

So, when it comes to exciting, world-class outdoor recreation that involves hunting and fishing, then all I have to say is “Make it Missoula”.

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Bio:  Mark Ward, aka Captain Catchem, is a Missoula resident and radio broadcaster on KGVO. Listen in on his Montana Outdoor Radio Show on Saturday mornings. You can also read Mark’s columns on When he’s not knee-deep in a trout stream or perched in a tree stand, you can catch him blogging regularly for Make it Missoula, too.