The Blackfoot River Fishing Report

The Blackfoot River Fishing Report

The Blackfoot River Fishing Report

Updated Friday, April 12 at 2:53PM
The Big Blackfoot River is everything it’s cracked up to be.  Bottomless emerald pools, boulder strewn pocket water and diamond chop riffles all shaded by moss covered cliffs and towering ponderosa pines combine to make this the epitome of Montana fly-fishing. Thanks to a diligent concerted effort between neighboring landowners, government agencies, conservation organizations and concerned anglers, restored spawning tributaries are continually enhancing trout populations – especially those native to the river. Combining such exceptional juvenile trout recruitment with restrictive creel limits results in a Blackfoot teeming with fish like biceps. Nymphing here is just plain deadly, especially from a boat. We aren't talking about spending the day untangling two pinhead size flies spun tight with 6X tippet around a stick of soft lead and a Don King indicator – this is no tailwater. 4X is as light as we go with 1X common place and bugs often the size of small rodents. Then imagine the same terminal tackle for dries! No stress, just fun. In spite of its familiarity as the inspiration for the big screen hit, "A River Runs Through It," compared to other world class destinations fishing pressure remains relatively light.

Conditions At-a-glance

Our Report

Tip of the Week:

As the spring comes to the Blackfoot corridor the whole river comes alive.  To find success, you may need to try a few different techniques throughout the day.  In the morning, when the water is still at its coldest, nymphing will be your best option as the fish won’t want to move too far to eat.  As the day warms up you will notice the fish feeding more readily and you can swap to a dry, dry-dropper, or streamer set up, or just stick with the nymph rig!  If you notice fish actively rising, a single or double dry fly rig will maximize your chances of success.

7 Day Outlook:

We have a sunny and warm weekend in store on the Blackfoot.  Next week will revert back to more normal spring weather, so make the most of the sunny days.  We expect chillier, wet days with nighttime lows below freezing next week.  Fishing in the morning will likely slow down as the nights get colder again.

Best techniques:

Nymphing will always be your best technique for early season fishing.  Cold water fish are lazy and will not move far to eat a fly so make sure you are getting multiple drifts through the fishiest water.  Deep and slow is the name of the game until temps warm up.  We like to fish our “meat and potatoes” flies this time of year: San Juans, Stoneflies and large Mayfly nymphs.  If you want to fish a streamer try a slow jigging retrieve, swing or dead drift.  Streamers under an indicator can be deadly.  As the water warms throughout the day you should see more action.  There have been hatches Blue Wings in the afternoon with fish eating on top along the eddy lines and in the slicks.  With the warmer weather we may see more March Browns.

*Traveling or in a hurry?  Let our knowledgeable staff pick a fly selection for you!

*The Online Store is updated daily!  Check it out!

*Call us for up to the minute updates at 406.542.7411 or if you are in the area stop in for all your Orvis gear and the right bugs. 

Clark Fork

Tip of the Week:

Long drifts close to structure are the name of the game when fishing in the spring.  We are talking about inches making the difference between a hungry fish crushing your bug or watching it drift by.  Cutting off the dropper and committing to the dry fly will certainly reward you with more dry fly eats, and potentially your best fish of the year.  Tuck it in tight and don’t forget to twitch it!

*See our 7 Day Outlook for updates on blockages jamming up the Clark Fork.

7 Day Outlook:

Expect some beautiful weather in the Missoula Valley this weekend.  Don’t be surprised if a lot of folks are out on the rivers taking advantage of the beautiful days.  Next week is looking cold and dreary.  And over night temperatures drop below freezing it will be smart to focus your fishing in the afternoon.

*Known Clark Fork Hazards:

Clinton-Turah: A few VERY sketchy spots through this section.  Do not attempt unless you are very experienced.

Best Techniques:

Dry fly fishing has been good on the Clark Fork, but nymphing and streamer fishing will likely be your best option with the bump in flows.  As the river levels out look to fish a single Skwala pattern over good holding lies and close to structure.  We have seen great hatches of Blue Wings on the Clark Fork so bring a few of your favorite parachutes and cripples in #16-18.  There are a few March Browns in the mix so adding a Purple Haze or D&D Cripple in #12-14 to a tandem rig is a good call.  Larger streamers like Dungeons, Envys and Articulated Sparkle Minnows have been fishing well tight to rocky and woody structure.

*Traveling or in a hurry?  Let our knowledgeable staff pick a fly selection for you!

*The Online Store is updated daily!  Check it out!

*Call us for up to the minute updates at 406.542.7411 or if you are in the area stop in for all your Orvis gear and the right bugs.

Local Forecast

Deer Lodge, MT, USA

Conditions

Conditions on the Blackfoot are okay, but will improve over the next few days.

The Hatch

BWOs. Midges.

Fly Patterns

DRIES

  • Purple Haze #12-20
  • BWO D&D Cripple #18-20
  • March D&D Cripple #14-16
  • Rogue River Skwala #10-12
  • Trina’s Skwala #10-12
  • Fools Gold #10-12
  • Plan B #10-14

NYMPHS

  • TJ Hooker #8-12
  • Duracell #12-18
  • Jig Pheasant Tail #12-18
  • Jig Prince #8-12
  • Frenchie #12-14
  • Perdigons and Bullets #12-14
  • Soft Hackle Hare's Ear #12-14
  • Rubber Legs #8-12
  • San Juan Worm #8-10

STREAMERS

  • Lil' Kim 04
  • Wooly Bugger/Thin Mint #6-10
  • Sparkle Minnow #4-8
  • Kreelex #4-6
  • Articulated Sparkle Minnow
  • Dungeon
  • Peanut Envy

USGS Water Charts

Specifics

Water Flow

1290CFS (average for this time of year)

Link to Water Flow Graph

http://on.doi.gov/1Tp3aKZ"

Visibility

36"+

Water temperature at mid-day

47F

Water Condition

Clear

Best time of day to fish

Afternoon

Best stretch

The entire river is viable

Best access point

Multiple access points all along river

Fish Species

Rainbows, westslope cutthroats, cutbows, browns, bull trout and whitefish.

Fishing Season

All Year - Winter can be tough.

Nearest airport

Missoula International Airport (MSO)

Recommended fly fishing leader

From a boat - 7.5' 3x-4x. Wading step it up to 9'

Recommended fly fishing tippet

3X, 4X and 5X will cover 90% of our fishing applications. 1-2X is great for punching out large, wind resistant dries in high dirty water. Don't drop lower than 10lb for streamers (we recommend a 4-5' 10lb tapered leader with a sink tip fly line). Leave the 6X at home.

Best fly fishing rod

The 9' 5WT is our do it all rod. Fast action rods will be best for most of our fishing; foam dries, dry-dropper fishing and nymphing. A fast action 6WT will be useful for large foam dries, small streamers, heavy nymph rigs and punching bugs through the afternoon wind. Bring a 7WT if you plan to fish large articulated streamers.

Best floating fly line

Scientific Anglers MPX or Rio Grand

Best sinking fly line

Scientific Anglers Trout Express or Rio Predator F/I/S3

Recommended Gear based on this report

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Lincoln to Bonner
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A selection of our top flies for spring in Western Montana. This assortment focuses on Blue Wing Olives (BWOs), Skwalas, and March Browns. Choose from dry flies, nymphs, or 50/50 mix. Let us know w...
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Absolute leaders are made with proprietary copolymer blends that are designed to drastically reduce water absorption while maintaining an optimal suppleness for high knot strength. Absolute nylon...
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Absolute fluorocarbon leaders and tippet boast a 15% higher wet knot strength compared to our previous material and features incredible clarity and abrasion resistance. 100% fluorocarbon for ultim...
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Absolute Tippet is made with proprietary copolymer blends that are designed to drastically reduce water absorption while maintaining an optimal suppleness for high knot strength. Absolute nylon l...
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A selection of our guides' and staff's top streamers. Dungeons, Sparkles Minnows, Dolly Lama, Peanut Envy, Thin Mint, Kreelex, and more. Choose either a half dozen or dozen. Includes a BRO logo str...
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FRESHWATER LEADER Absolute leaders are made with proprietary copolymer blends that are designed to drastically reduce water absorption while maintaining an optimal suppleness for high knot stren...
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Meet our line of value, high-quality and dependable tools with great prices. All Dream Stream™ tools are made with surgical-grade Japanese stainless steel to exacting specifications for fly-fishers...
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High N Dry Gel Floatant was designed with special and unique materials, and is specifically for those fly fishers that prefer to dress their flies with their fingers or those who prefer to dress ce...
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A favorite of BRO Guides!  High N Dry Liquid Spray Floatant is made of the same special and unique materials as our award-winning Liquid Floatant, but in a convenient spray bottle.  This method of ...
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HALF-SIZE HEAVY LINE     The Amplitude Smooth series of lines are, simply put, the highest-performance smooth fly lines in the world. With up to five times less drag and eight times the durabilit...
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Made for anglers who have to see what’s around the next bend, the Carbon Jacket’s fully waterproof, four-way stretch shell will keep you dry without slowing you down. Built for anglers who demand f...
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Is it a light baselayer? Is it a Merino sunshirt? Is it the most comfortable and versatile fishing shirt you’ve ever worn? Yes, yes, and yes. Our Thermo 150 Hoody gives you the natural comfort and ...