Smith River Fly Fishing Trips
Smith River 5 Day 4 Night Exclusive Trip (per angler) – $4,300.
Winding through ranch lands shadowed by the Belt Mountains of central Montana, the Smith River begins its journey west to the Missouri. Just downstream of the cowboy town of White Sulfur Springs, the Smith slices a sixty-three mile twisting jag right through the mountains before emptying out into the fertile Missouri River bottoms. It is here, through Montana’s most spectacular river canyon, that we conduct our five day/four night Smith River fly-fishing adventures.
Unlike the other famous Montana trout streams mirrored by major thoroughfares, the Smith River flows for over 50 miles without a single paralleling or bisecting highway. Other than a smattering of summer homes and dude ranches, the Smith River Canyon is all yours, for five days, without wailing sirens or the drone of motor cars.
The Smith River Canyon is the only waterway in Montana where all recreational floating is limited by a state legislated permit system. Even private floaters must obtain permits via an annual random drawing for launch dates. The total number of trips launching on any given day may not exceed nine—eight of which are private and one commercial. Stringent use limits imperative, given the river’s limited access, miles of seclusion, exceptional beauty, wilderness appeal and tremendous trout fishing. So desired is this trip that the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks received nearly 8,100 applications for private permits last year. And the acclaim is well deserved.
Our Smith River Adventures begin by meeting clients in Missoula or Helena a day ahead of trip departure. We provide transport that evening to White Sulfur Springs where, following a fried chicken dinner washed down with a couple of beers at the Mint Bar, we crash at All Seasons Hotel. This is vintage Montana – not five star cuisine and accommodation – and only adds to the flavor of the trip. Following a home cooked breakfast at Dorothy’s Cafe and a short drive to the confluence of Sheep Creek and the Smith River at Camp Baker, we’ll gear up for five days of angling on the Big Sky’s most stunning river.
Rods readied, wader boots laced, and oars in the water, anglers and guides are floating and fishing at their own pace, forced only to glance skyward every now and then to take in towering limestone cliffs and evergreen ridges. About the time you stop for a relaxed and hearty riverside lunch, our gear crew (having rowed ahead all morning with the entire camp piled high on their boats) should be arriving at that night’s campsite. While you’re back in the boat hooking rainbows out of foamy back eddies and battling cliff-hugging browns, the camp crew is busy erecting tents, setting up tables, assembling stoves, snapping cots together, chopping wood and prepping dinner. Upon rolling into camp that evening, expect to be greeted with a warm water wash, an hors d’oeuvre / cocktail table and flickering campfire. While we put the finishing touches on dinner you may choose to do a bit of wade fishing around camp, take a short hike or stretch your feet out and listen to the quiet. Dinners are served family style and are often the highlight of the trip. Some of our favorite entrees include crab stuffed salmon fillets, cheese ravioli with red sauce, and, if our hunting season was successful, grilled wild Montana elk steaks. We complement the main course with fresh salads, tasty side dishes, selected wines and end with a delectable dutch oven desert.
Hot coffee is ready when you are in the morning. We’ll have breakfast prepared around 8:30 in order to breakdown camp and get on the water for another full day. Although averaging more than 12 floating miles a day, an early start affords opportunities for midday sorties up side canyons to view Indian pictographs and other points of interest. The beauty of the Smith River Canyon cannot be overstated. It is almost criminal to spend eight hours a day watching your fly bounce through riffles and twist past rocks while such a spectacular wilderness flows past – almost. Indeed, at some point during the trip, you need to put the rod down, put your feet up and lean way back just to take it all in.
So is the program for four nights and five days. You float, fish, relax and eat while we load, row, set up camp, cook and clean. On the final day we typically fish hard for the first half of the day as we wind out of the canyon and into sheep country, then row to our takeout at Eden bridge. From Eden Bridge we shuttle you back to your departure city in time for a late flight, or to the hotel for the night in order to make your airport connection the next morning. Few of Montana’s prolific trout streams offer the solitude and magnitude of the Smith. It should be high on any western river angler’s “must do” list. We offer this limited access trip on a first come first serve basis for groups of eight participants and usually early in the month of May.
What’s included: Smith River trips include everything – your guide, travel to and from river, rod/reel, terminal tackle, flies, three meals a day, tents and camping gear.
What’s not included: Montana fishing license, waders (we can arrange rentals), transportation to and from Missoula, and gratuities.
*Smith River trips are conducted under a limited special use permit issued by the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest This institution is an equal opportunity employer.
*In light of this trip’s exclusivity, 50% deposits are due upon booking, and full payment is due 60 days before departure – sorry, no refunds will be made for cancellations, although deposits may be credited toward later trips within one year of original departure.