Missoula, Mont., is probably most known for being the location where “A River Runs Through It” was based.
But Missoula has a lot more than just the timeless Blackfoot River to hang its hat on.
In fact, Missoula is within minutes of four of the best trout fisheries you’ll find in Big Sky Country.
Along with the Blackfoot, Missoulians can also fish for wild rainbows, cutthroat, brook, cutbows and brown trout at Rock Creek and the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers. There are also plenty of squawfish and mountain whitefish for anglers who have never hooked up with these species.
And a majority of the fishing on these rivers is with the dry fly, which only adds to the scenic beauty of fishing in Western Montana. For more information on fly selection, contact the Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop (406-721-8996).
A closer look at the four rivers near Missoula:
This river can be a challenge because it runs on a lot of private land. Just keep in mind Montana’s angler-friendly high-water line rule of thumb. If you’re fishing below the high-water line, you’re OK on Montana’s rivers. This is a fun river for brown trout, which feed on tones, caddis and ’hoppers.
This is the river made famous by “A River Runs Through It,” a river that has seen a lot of pressure and pollutants that have set the fishery back a bit. The good news is there are still plenty of cutts, browns, rainbows and bulls to be had in the deeper pools. Salmon files, goldies and ’hoppers and streamers are good here.
The Clark runs through the heart of town and is actually located behind the Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop. When you see all the boils on this river in the morning, you’ll find yourself calling in sick at work in a hurry. On this river, you’ll want to cast with PMDs, mahogany duns, caddis and ’hoppers.
This is the creek the locals love, although it’s located about a half hour or 45 minutes outside of town. The browns are fun downstream, while cutts, rainbows and whitefish can be had at higher elevations. Like the other rivers above, ’hoppers are good in the late summer or fall. PMDs, caddis and dark purple streamers are also good options.