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Clark Fork River

Updated 06/26/2020 at 8:00pm

Conditions At-a-glance


Weather Forecast

Our Report

7 DAY OUTLOOK – The Clark Fork above Missoula is still not quite there as far as clarity but the river below the Bitterroot confluence is green and fishable.  Not many anglers have been fishing the Clark for a while so it could get good – especially with the cooler wet week anticipated ahead.  Various stone flies, caddis and mayflies are hatching and with keen eye toward the willow and back channels you could find yourself some big bows sipping off the top.

OUR TIPS OF THE WEEK – The Clark is big and running full so is intimidating to many anglers.  But, the high water fishing can be quite good to those willing to break it down into smaller components.  A coupla tips that will help you be successful in big water:

  1. Side channels are king.  Not only are they easier to read the fish really congregate there.
  2. When nymphing keep it short.  Just because the river is big doesn’t mean the fish will hold and feed in deeper water. 4-5″ to the first fly is usually sufficient.
  3. When you see fish feeding sporadically in an area, be patient, they will stay put unless spooked.

BEST TECHNIQUES – Dries and droppers are often effective in these conditions but dropping a couple nymphs under a bobber will provide longer drifts in turbulent water and thus produce more fish.

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.


High and stained

The Hatch

Little yellow sallies, caddis, green drakes, with pmd's and goldens starting up.

Fly Patterns

NYMPHS - Pat's Rubber Legs, brown, #6; Hare's Ear Nymph, #10-14; Pheasant Tail Nymph, #14-18; Pink or hot bead red San Juan Worm #8-10; Montana Prince tan #12-16, double bead stone peacock or natural #8 DRIES - Golden stone fly variations (Rouge, carnage, cat puke...)#8-6, Goldie Hawn sally #16, paradrake olive #12, brindle chute #16 STREAMERS - Sparkle Minnow #6 in Olive; Zonkers #6, 8 in Natural, Olive, or Yellow; Kreelex Fly #6 in Copper/Gold, Gold/Silver, or Purple/Silver. Don't forget a few big pike flies and metal leader.


Water Flow

14500 cfs below Missoula

Link to Water Flow Graph


about 15"

Water temperature at mid-day

50 deg

Water Condition

High and stained

Best time of day to fish

all day

Best stretch

Below confluence with Bitterroot until upper comes into shape.

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.