Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Big Hole River
A word of caution:
If you fish this area, or anywhere in the Big Hole Valley, during the months of June and July,
you should be aware that there will be huge numbers of mosquitoes. The valley is usually
flooded to irrigate the farmer's crops. The first frost that usually occurs as early as the
middle of August, will reduce the numbers, but otherwise you will need plenty of protection
and insect repellent. You will also find reduced numbers of mosquitoes in the lower sections
of the river.
The Big Hole River above Jackson is a small mountain stream. It's mostly small brook trout
fishing. When the stream comes out of the mountains at Jackson, it changes to a slower
moving stream with less decline. The trout are still mostly brook trout but grayling begin to
show up. This section is tightly enclosed with willow trees in many areas. Most of the stream
is on private property. The area near Wisdom has the most grayling. These fish are easy to
catch and as a general rule, will take just about any attractor fly.
Below Wisdom you will begin to find some rainbows and cutthroat trout mixed in with the
grayling and brook trout. The stream around the Wisdom area is a meadow stream that
meanders back and front through open areas. This section has a lot of cattle grazing along
the river and flows mostly through private ranch and farm property. From Pintler Creek
downstream to the Dickey Bridge the river flows along highway #43 and there is plenty of
access. The stream flows are usually very slow in this area. You will begin to see some
brown trout and more mountain whitefish in this section. In the early year when there is
enough water, the stretch near Sportsman's Park can be floated. However, low summer and
early fall flows can make it difficult.
From Dicky Bridge downstream to Divide you will find a diverse range of water including a
section of the Big Hole that runs through a canyon. The water increase in speed an becomes
pocket water with lots of runs, riffles and deep pools. There are some large boulders that
makes getting around difficult in places. This area has to be accessed by trails. Rainbows
become the most plentiful species. This section has special regulations so make sure you
are aware of the current rules. There are several boat launch locations in this section.
The most popular section of the Big Hole is the area from Divide downstream to Glen. There
is little bank access. Most all the fishing is done from drift boats. On the upper end rainbow
trout is still the most predominate species. The lower part near Glen has more brown trout
than rainbows. There's special regulation area in this section of the river between Divide and
Melrose. It is currently not open year-round, rather only during the general Montana fishing
The last section of the river, from Glen down to High Road, there's some more water that can
be floated. This area can get low during the summer. It contains mostly brown trout including
some very large ones.
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Big Hole River Montana