Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Blackfoot River, Montana
The Blackfoot River can be fished by wading or from a drift boat. Some areas of the uppermost
sections can be fished from small pontoon type boats or even a canoe. It's a classic freestone
stream that's full of large boulder. Most of the river consist of pocket water.
About half of this river’s headwaters are is in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Much of it has been
logged in the past. There's even been some mining. You will notice the difference at the forks
of the upper river. One is usually clear and the other dingy. Thanks goodness, most of it is
undeveloped and properly protected.
The Blackfoot River flows through a series of canyons. The easiest way to fish them is by boat.
There's some wading access points but much of the river would be inaccessible to the wading
angler without a boat.
Much of the Blackfoot River 's pocket water consist of complex currents. Getting a good drift
isn't easy. Mending will fix the situation but it is by far better to use a reach cast or a reach
mend. It's about the only way to get a good drift in much of the stream.
About the only way to fish the Blackfoot River successfully is to make short, upstream
presentations. The more fly line you have in the water, the more difficult it becomes to get a
drag free drift. Due to the currents, and broken surface of the water, you can usually get fairly
close to the trout fishing in an upstream direction.
Staying hidden is important. By that I mean you should wear clothing that blends in with the
background. Use the boulders to your benefit and slip up behind them as often as possible.
The trout are not very selective unless there's a good hatch taking place. When that happens
you will be far better off matching the hatch.
Westslope cutthroat are the main trout you will encounter. There's plenty of browns and
rainbows too and brookies are plentiful in some areas of the headwaters. Don't forget therfe's
the threatened bull trout. Some of these fish are huge. Some grow to lengths over 30 inches. If
you catch a bull trout by accident, make certain you release it very carefully.
Blackfoot River, Montana
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