The Madison. The Blackfoot. The Big Hole. The rivers of Southwest Montana are legendary even to anglers who have never ventured to this region. And those are just the famous spots. In this vast landscape between Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, equally great fishing can be found along quiet waterways and within the crystalline depths of stunning mountain lakes.
The only challenge is deciding where to start. Here are eight waters where an angler can catch a stringer full of memories.
The Madison River , nicknamed the “Fifty Mile Riffle,” is home to vast quantities of hungry trout. The Missouri River just below Holter Dam boasts classic tailwater fishing; visitors often spend an entire vacation fishing just this one short stretch of water.
The Beaverhead River’s tight twists and willowy banks present technical challenges while harboring the highest concentration of trophy brown trout in the state. Just down the highway, the Big Hole River is wide, gently winding water, home to hard-fighting trout as well as fluvial arctic grayling.
Even people who don’t fish tend to know about the Blackfoot River . This is the waterway that braids its way through Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It.” The Blackfoot remains one of Montana’s wildest and most productive fisheries.
For a taste of fantastic still water fishing, Clark Canyon Reservoir is a great bet for landing the biggest rainbow of your life. Georgetown Lake offers nonstop action for pan-sized kokanee salmon and slab-sized rainbow and brook trout. For even more diversity, spend a day at Canyon Ferry Lake targeting feisty walleye in the morning and stout rainbows in the afternoon.
To learn more about fishing Southwest Montana, visit southwestmt.com or call 1-800-879-1159 ext. 1606.