Anyone Fished NW Montana Rivers (Flathead Valley)

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by fishingAK14, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. fishingAK14 Member

    Posts: 119
    The Last Frontier
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    Does anyone have any experience with fishing the Northwestern Montana rivers, specifically in the Flathead valley. I have been looking into a trip up there with a buddy that has work in that region and wanted to see if anyone has any experience up there.

    What gear were you using, areas fishing, ect.

  2. ryfly Addicted to flyfishing

    Posts: 377
    Snoqualmie, WA
    Ratings: +50 / 0
    Check in with Jason Lanier, owner of Bigfork Anglers He will steer you in the right direction, he has a great crew of guides and has the only flyshop in the Flathead Valley. He is an awesome resource of information as well.

    Have a great time and tell him Ryan sent you.

    Kyle Smith likes this.
  3. fishingAK14 Member

    Posts: 119
    The Last Frontier
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    Awesome, thanks for the connection.
  4. Joe Parke New Member

    Posts: 27
    Snohomish, Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I floated and fished the North Fork several years ago. The float was pretty easy in August when I went. We did the run from the last put in before the Canadian border to Polebridge and Polebridge to Glacier view. No big whitewater or anything scary.

    Fishing was OK, not great. We caught some cutthroat and whitefish.

    The scenery up there is fantastic. The N. Fork Rd outside of the Park is pretty bad. Make sure your tires are good and your spare has air.
  5. Kyle Smith Active Member

    Posts: 2,011
    Bozeman, MT
    Ratings: +283 / 0
    I have a buddy who fishes the Swan every time he comes to MT. He says it is OK fishing, but a fun river. Also check out the Kootenai and tribs. I never get up that way, maybe when I get a raft and a truck.
  6. teedub Active Member

    Posts: 365
    Cle Elum
    Ratings: +100 / 0
    I have a cabin in Thompson Falls and I run up from there. I have fished the water on the west side of the park and had real good success. Late in the summer it will drive you nuts - the water is so clear you can site fish for lots of cuts and bows in four and five feet of water in some places. One year a Griz walked up on me while I was fishing - never heard it. Couple of blast on my air horn and she turned around and walked away in total disgust. Take bear spray and if you find a pair of binoculars in a campground - they are mine.
  7. Rick Todd Active Member

    Posts: 1,861
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  8. fishingAK14 Member

    Posts: 119
    The Last Frontier
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Thanks guys for all the information. I am looking forward to getting up there soon. My wife and I are actually looking to relocate to the lower 48 in the next couple years and the Flathead Valley is one of the places on our list to check as a possible settling place. Living in Alaska I need mountains around me and it seems that the Flathead Valley is still populated by not that many people.

    @teedub, I will be sure to keep an eye out for your binoculars and send them your way :). I also have plenty of bear spray, so that shouldn't be an issue. Plenty of bear encounters up here in the back country during fishing season.
  9. Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Posts: 2,494
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +792 / 0
    My (limited) experience with the Flathead Northfork is that it can be quite good, and the silvery color of the westslope cutts that migrate up out of Flathead lake is striking. Finding access for wading can be a little tough, but there are good spots on the upper river on the National Park side, and lower down on the road from Columbia Falls.

    Besides the three forks of the Flathead themselves, there are some nice smaller streams and lots of great backcountry fishing (details to remain intentionally vague).

    Also, the lakes on the Blackfoot reservation, directly east of Glacier NP, are reputed to be some of the best lake fisheries in western North America.

    The area is spectacular and, as you noted, somewhat less developed than some other parts of Montana. The Kalispell/Whitefish/Columbia Falls corridor is pretty well developed, but Bigfork and the Swan Valley still seem to be somewhat less so.

  10. bakerite Active Member

    Posts: 291
    Baker City Oregon
    Ratings: +82 / 0
    Two hours North of the Flathead puts you on the Elk, much better cutthroat fishing, and a 2nd on the Kootnei.
  11. ScottP Active Member

    Posts: 638
    Ratings: +890 / 0
    Contact the folks at Lakestream in Whitefish; Rob Weiker runs a very nice shop. Stumptown Anglers is okay; Arends, over in Columbia Falls is worth contacting, too.
    Beautiful scenery, some decent fish although none of the waters would be considered destination streams. The Blackfeet Res is another story - great stillwater fisheries full of some nice fish. Abundance of wind, lack of amenities or hospitality, primitive access roads ("slippery when wet" would be a bit of an understatement; more like gumbo mud up to the axles) tend to keep the crowds down. Also, this is prime grizzly habitat; lots of the streams are very brushy and a great place to find out you're not at the top of the food chain after all. Up to the individual to decide if it's worth it.

    aimacart likes this.
  12. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,800
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,725 / 0
    Where's that dude that lives in Polson. He usually chimes in on posts like this. I forgot his name(that's what happens when you get my age).
  13. fishingAK14 Member

    Posts: 119
    The Last Frontier
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    I appreciate all the info, I will be contacting some of the shops and guides for info as I get a better idea of when I might be going. The Kootenai is going to be one of the stops toping my list. Not that I'm not concerned about Grizzly's, but I am pretty comfortable being in bear country and knowing that I'm not at the top of the food chain. They are out and about up here already as the weather has been a bit warm this winter.

    Can you fly fish out of the boat up there, or do you have to be out of the boat?

  14. ScottP Active Member

    Posts: 638
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    Fishing from boats is allowed; for the Kootenai at high flows, it's the safest place to do it. Kootenai Angler and Kootenai River Outfitters are the 2 that I know of on that river.

  15. Mark Moore Just a Member

    Posts: 744
    Vancouver, Wa.
    Ratings: +70 / 0
    Get in touch with Trapper Badovinac, he knows the area about as good as anyone I think and has written several good articles for Northwest Fly Fishing.

    I don't think the fishing is as good here as in SW Montana but it's still good and the area is amazing. My wife grew up there and I'm still pissed that we live in Vancouver WA instead of Kalispell.
  16. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,800
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,725 / 0
    That's the name I was searching in my brain for. It's hell getting older, you seem to forget anything when you need it the most.
    fishingAK14 and jjaims like this.
  17. fishingAK14 Member

    Posts: 119
    The Last Frontier
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    @Markmore, I have been doing some reading on the NW area and most of the reading says the same thing. The fishing isn't quite as good as other places in the state, but the crowds are smaller too. I think I would prefer the fishing to be GOOD, not GREAT and have less people around.

    Looking forward to BSing with some of the local guides in that area.

    Mark Moore likes this.
  18. Explosion5000 Member

    Posts: 36
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +29 / 0
  19. hydrological beads are NOT flies and snagging is just ghetto

    Posts: 561
    Ratings: +109 / 0
    lower flathead for pike.
  20. Dan Nelson Hiker, Fisher, Writer, Bum

    Posts: 822
    Puyallup, WA
    Ratings: +349 / 5