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The Smith River
The Smith is Montana's most spectacular river, a superb trout fishery, and a
great multi-day fishing experience. Depending on the snow cover and the spring
moisture, the Smith is fishable as early as May with permissible weather. The
river itself is a joy to fish. Riffles and pools alternate with undercut
cliffs, grassy banks, and spring creek-like weed 'beds. Unlike many Montana
rivers which are large and brawling, the Smith is a medium size stream,
ideally suited to wading and float fishing. While fishing for Browns, Rainbows
and with luck, a Cutthroat or a Brook trout, you may see a black bear, mule
deer, mink or an otter along he river's edge while eagles, cougar and elk roam
the high country.
The Blackfoot River
This is one of Montana's most scenic rivers. The movie, A River Runs Through
It, directed by Robert Redford, highlights a family's experiences on the
beautiful Blackfoot River. I'm partial to it in the early season because of
the aggressive Brown Trout that'll chase streamers, and come right out of the
water during the salmon fly hatch. One of the Blackfoot's special charms is
its ability to fish well during the dog days of summer. It's a true classic.
The Bitterroot River
This river fishes well early in the year with 3 different stoneflies. During
the summer months, it's best left to other anglers. Rising water temperatures,
due to de-watering, slows the activity. But in the late season, the Bitterroot
picks back up with hot action on tiny dry flies.
The Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone scenery is incredible: rimrocks, 10,000-foot Crazy Mountains
to the north, 10,000 plus-foot Absaroka Mountains to the south-this is
Montana! The Yellowstone usually clears in mid to late July; from then on it
produces well with a variety of patterns. August through September is
grasshopper and Golden Stonefly fishing at its best. An angler may also trick
a monster Brown at this time with a big ugly wet fly. No matter what your
preference, the Yellowstone will provide the opportunity.
The Clark Fork River
This river has a split personality. It's virtually two different rivers: the
upper Clark and the lower Clark. The upper Clark is a braided, meandering
stream that's an excellent Brown Trout fishery, with occasional Rainbows and
Cutthroats. The lower Clark is best characterized as big Water. Usually flat
and slow, it carries pods of large Rainbows that rise at the drop of a fly.
You can expect to see generous Westslope Cutthroats, as well. I've seen many
Rainbows better than 18 inches taken from the lower Clark. This is probably
the best river for taking a large fish on a small dry.
Others Rivers to Consider
There are quite a few other rivers and streams in the area that are expected
to produce well this year, and I'm always looking for alternatives. The Big
Hole, Rock Creek, the Sun and the Dearborn have all delivered some great
fishing in past years.
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