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Clark Fork River

Updated 12/11/2017 at 7:20pm

Conditions At-a-glance


Weather Forecast

33° / 20°
30° / 20°
29° / 14°
35° / 20°
37° / 18°
36° / 22°

Our Report

Conditions on the Clark Fork are pretty good now that the rains have finally subsided and snow fall is kicking in.  It is full on winter angling here now.  Most of the accessible fish will be in the long riffles, fast moving slicks or back eddies.  We say accessible because some of those long slow side channels and larger back-waters are iced up.  The Clark above Missoula will be easier to find fish concentrations as the water continues to size down as you go up.  However, the spring water coming out of Rock Creek help keep it open during cold snaps so unless you are heading all the way above Deer Lodge stay below the Creek.  If you are looking for some surface midge action stay below Missoula and hit those days when the afternoon temps bend toward 40.

BEST TECHNIQUES – Double nymph rigs a bit deeper than most of the local rivers but still only 5-7′ deep.  We go meat and potatoes here too (big attractors and worms) but trailing a zebra midge behind a larger nymph is sometimes the key.

OUR TIPS OF THE WEEK – The inversions in the valley of late have made angling tough close to Missoula.  A bit of a drive up or downstream to get out from under the grey skies will not only improve your fishing chances but your winter attitude as well.

7 DAY OUTLOOK – Stars are lining up for a warming trend this weekend and the fishing should be good.

Call or email us for up to the minute updates at 406.542.7411 or if you are in the area stop in our fly shop and say hi at 3055 North Reserve Street in Missoula for all your Orvis gear and the right bugs.


River is low and clear, temps are nice and cool - good for the trout!

The Hatch

mahoganies and hoppers, few midges

Fly Patterns

DRIES - parachute hoppers in tan #8, chubbies, mahoganies NYMPHS - Red beadhead power worm#10, prince #12, phez tails #16, tungsten salvation nymph #14. STREAMERS - olive or natural zonker type pattern #6, sparkle minnow #6, olive or black bead head buggers #8 Don't forget a few big pike flies and metal leader.


Water Flow

550 cfs at Turah with 2690 cfs below Missoula

Link to Water Flow Graph


4 feet

Water temperature at mid-day


Water Condition

Low and clear

Best time of day to fish

anytime after 11am for the best fishing.....will fish good until dark.

Best stretch

Lower river below Missoula for dry fly action; below Rock Creek to Msla for smaller fish on droppers.

Best access point

multiple access points all along the river

Fish species

Rainbows, cut throats, cut-bows, browns, and white fish.

Fishing season

Fishing season is open year round, while the winter is catch and release for trout.

Nearest airport

Missoula International Airport

Recommended fly fishing leader

9' 3x

Recommended fly fishing tippet

2x to the first bug 3x to the second unless going small then drop down one size.