The Blackfoot River, located just outside Missoula in Western Montana, is well known for its outstanding diversity of water, beautiful scenery, and quality trout. It flows through charming riffles, fast runs, and deep dark pools while passing firs and willows along its route. Cattle ranches and farmland also exist along the river which makes for a serene float. Rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and the endangered bull trout are all found in the The Blackfoot River. There are a few Special Regulations for the river.
Staring its journey in Helena National Forest, the Blackfoot turns and wanders as feeder creeks increase its volume. The water in the upper reaches are narrow and shallow for the most part and fishing is not at its best until the river flows past Scotty Brown Bridge which lies just downstream from the town of Ovando. There are a fair number of brown, brook, and cutthroat trout above the bridge.
Below Scotty Brown Bridge, the river begins to develop into the tremendous fishery it is well known for. Rainbows become predominant, with good numbers of brown, cutthroat, and bull trout. Access becomes much easier and floating becomes a great way to fish.
Averaging seventy five feet across; deep long pools, choppy riffles and fast runs characterize the river. Pine and willow lined banks as well as emerald colored water creates a wonderful setting. Floating the river is almost a tradition in the area. Its waters consist of great diversity which makes a float down the The Blackfoot River a great experience. Rapids, long gentle glides, boulders, and hard bends create both an easy and difficult float. Many anglers also choose to wade fish the river from one of the many access points found along its route.
The The Blackfoot River is a quality fishery all the way to where it meets the Clark Fork just below where I-90 crosses the river. Access to the Blackfoot can be found at one of the many bridge crossings, along side roads, and in the Blackfoot River Recreation Corridor. The corridor has many access points in which to float to and from, or simply wade fish from. Inside the corridor there is a road that extends from the Johnsrud Park Access upstream to the Missoula County line just downstream from Scotty Brown Bridge. This recreational area consists of many access points for anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Route 200 also parallels the river and provides access in some areas. I-90 Crosses the Blackfoot just upstream from where it enters the The Clark Fork River.
Hatches can be excellent throughout the year. Stoneflies are very productive and important throughout the Spring and Summer. Stoneflies include Salmon Flies, Golden Stones, Little Yellow Sallies, as well as a couple others. Large fish over twenty inches come to net each year when the "big bugs" are on the water. Caddis are productive from Spring till mid Fall and include a variety of different species. Many mayflies also hatch throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall and include Blue-winged Olives, Pale Morning Duns, Western Green Drakes, Western March Browns, Callibaetis, Tricos, Mahogany Duns, and a few other less productive ones. The smaller dry flies fish best in the flat pools found along the river while the larger stonefly patterns can be thrown in the harder pushing water throughout the riffles and runs. Terrestrials, especially hoppers, are also very effective during late summer.
Streamers and nymphs are also very productive throughout the year. Bring a sink tip line if you plan to get your large streamers down. Nymph fishing is most effective using a floating line with a leader approximately twice as long as the depth of the water your fishing. Woolly buggers and generic nymphs are local favorites.
The Blackfoot is easily reached from Missoula or any of the towns in the area. The closest commercial airport is in Missoula and also one in Butte a short drive from the Blackfoot. If your planning a fishing trip the The Blackfoot River is a wonderful choice. The area also has other quality fisheries to create variety for your trip.
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