Fly Fishing the Beaverhead River in Southwest Montana

When people think about a fishing vacation in Southwest Montana, their thoughts usually gravitate to fly fishing the Beaverhead River.  The Beaverhead is one of the more prolific and challenging blue ribbon trout rivers that people come from all over the world to fly fish.

This tailwater flows out of Clark Canyon Reservoir and is a small river in size but an enormous river in stature.  With thousands of trout per mile and rarely more than 70 feet from bank to bank, the Beaverhead River is literally stacked with trout.  Big Trout.  The Beaverhead is known for its population of very large Browns and Rainbows, attracting fly fishers from all over.  The Beaverhead’s constant cold-water provided by the reservoir’s outflow, coupled with the generally silt-free nature of the water and stable summertime flows create an ideal habitat for aquatic insects.  This phenomenal insect habitat produces millions of bugs, which translates to prolific hatches throughout the summer.  With so much food in the river, the trout can’t help but get big.

When fly fishing the Beaverhead, you encounter a meandering river that creates countless holes and buckets, which provide ideal holding-water for trout.  There are trout lying around every corner, and there is no shortage of corners on this winding river.  A fly fishing angler should have no difficulty in finding trout on the Beaverhead–the challenge comes in hooking and landing these strong and energetic trout.  First, you must pick the right fly to imitate the hatch.  With so many natural insects in the water column, it is essential that you pick a pattern that closely matches what the tout are keyed in on.  Second, you need to have great presentation with your fly.  Whether you are nymphing or throwing dries, a good drift dramatically improves your chances of hooking one of these fish.  Finally, once you have hooked a trout, fighting them in the fast water and tight quarters is no easy task.  A fish landed on the Beaverhead is a well earned fish.

Fly Fishing the Sections of the Beaverhead River

The upper Beaverhead River, from the Dam to High Bridge, is generally fished with small nymphs.  This isn’t to say that at times there isn’t amazing dry fly fishing, it is that most of the fish caught in this section are on nymphs.  From High Bridge to Barretts, nymphing is still the most successful style of fly fishing, but more opportunities exist for catching Beaverhead trout on larger dries such as hoppers and crane flies.  Bellow the Barretts’ diversion the number of trout per mile decreases, but that doesn’t mean that opportunities for trophy trout are diminished.

Hoppers and Streamers

Throwing hoppers in the later part of the summer between Dillon, Anderson Lane and Beaverhead Rock frequently produce trout well in excess of 20 inches.  Streamer fishing is another style of fly fishing that can produce large fish on the Beaverhead River.  Casting streamers under the willow-choked banks in the early hours just after dawn is very successful way to get a trophy Beaverhead Trout to eat.

The Beaverhead River is an impressive fishery with world-class fishing opportunities throughout the entire river.  So whether it’s fishing size 22 trico spinners in The Slick, nymphing the Axel Hole with PMDs or throwing hoppers on the lower river, the Beaverhead River has something to offer nearly every fly fishing angler. Click here for more information on Beaverhead River Fly Fishing.