Copyright 2018 James Marsh
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Fly Fishing South Fork Flathead River
Of the three forks of the Flathead River, as well as the
main stem of the river, the South Fork offers the best
fishing opportunities. The reason is very simple. Few
anglers will go to the trouble to reach it to fish it and the
fishing regulations help protect it even more. Fly fishing
the South Fork of the Flathead River should remain a
favorite for the explorer type of angler for a long time. It
has plenty of good size cutthroat and rainbow trout
along with some grayling and some fully protected bull
trout. The South Fork is the favorite of the Flatheads.

The South Fork of the Flathead River is a truly remote
stream. It forms in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, one of if
not the largest wilderness area in the states. It can only
be accessed by foot or horseback.  We don't often do
this, but in this case, if your going to fish the upper
section of the river, we recommend you use an outfitter.

Access is to the wilderness is very good. There are
many trials that transverse the giant area of the Bob
Marshall Wilderness. The South Fork of the Flathead
River can be accessed from the upper end of the
Hungry Horse Reservoir which you can be reached by
traveling about fifty miles on a dirt road. From there you
have to either travel by horseback or backpack in. A
trialhead leads to the South Fork of the river. The South
Fork Trail follows the river for its entire length.

The South Fork of the Flathead River is over forty miles
long before it flows into Hungry Horse Reservoir. There's
also five miles of the stream in the tailwater section
between the dam and the main stem of the Flathead

Even when you arrive, you will find the South Fork of the
Flathead River very difficult to fish. It flows for several
miles through the Meadow Creek Gorge, a deep
canyon-like area. You must hike in a good ways from the
trialhead to fish. Once you get to the river, unless the
water is very high, you will find it easy to wade.

There are several special fishing regulations that apply
to the wilderness portion of the South Fork of the
Flathead River. You should make certain you check the
current regulations prior to fishing the river.

The South Fork tailwater below Hungry Horse Dam flows
for only five miles before it joins the main stem of the
Flathead River, but It too, provides some good fly fishing
opportunities. Except for a few locals, most anglers that
travel that far to fish, do so to fish the wilderness area.

Seasons follow the general Montana fishing season.
Late springtime has some fishing opportunities except
during runoff.
The Summer would be best time for fly fishing the South
Fork of the Flathead River.
Early Fall can be good.

Fly Fishing Gear Tackle and Trout Flies
Type of Stream
Freestone and Tailwater

Rainbow Trout
Bull Trout (must be released)

Northwestern Montana

Large, about 45 miles long

Nearest Towns
Hungry Horse

3rd Sat of May through Nov 30th.


Non-Resident License
State of Montana

National Weather Service Link

USGS Stream Flow Data:
Below Hungry Horse Dam

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle & Trout
100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
South Fork Flathead River Fishing
Report: F
ebruary 02, 2018
(see bottom of page)
South Fork Flathead River Fishing Report:
02/10/16  The seasons is currently closed on the South Fork Flathead River; however, it isn't
too early to start planning your next fly fishing trip. We have taken samples of the aquatic
insects several times from the South Fork using professional equipment and know what
aquatic insects and other foods are present. We don't go by trial and error in selecting flies or
guess at it. Let us help you plan your next trip there: Send us an email at:
08/16/16 We won't have a weekly fly fishing report on the South Fork but we will as many as
possible. We get fewer reports on this watershed. Right now, stream levels are in good shape
and lots of insects are hatching. We received a good report this past weekend. There are lots
of stoneflies, some mayflies and caddis. Shoot us an email and we will send you a list.
08/23/16 This is a good time to be hiking or taking a horseback trip up the South Fork. Lots of
hatches are taking place. We received one good report from a customer this past week.
09/06/16 We didn't receive any reports yet from the South Fork but we should soon. We set
two parties up with flies that should be fishing soon if not already. Conditions should be good.
10/13/16 We received two reports this past 3 weeks for the South Fork for multiple day trips..
Lots of cutthroats were caught in each case.
10/26/16 Two more reports from groups we help set up for the South Fork came in the past
two weeks. All reported large numbers of cutthroats being caught.
11/09/16 The stream levels are still too high to safely wade anywhere but they are dropping
and may be okay within another two or three days. You will just have to check them.
11/30/16 Today is the last day of the trout fishing season.
12/14/16 The season is over but it isn't too early to start planning that next Flathead River
trip. Let us help you do just that. Send us an email at:
12/28/16 Happy holidays. It won't be long before a new season begins.
01/25/17 The river is still closed to trout fishing but it isn't to early to send us an email and let
us help you plan your next trip to the Flathead. Just let us know the dates you plan to fish.  
02/22/17 Just a note to tell you that we are waiting on your email to help you plan that 2017
fishing trip. We outfit several customers each year with flies and gear for it.
03/01/17 We know it is still over two months until the season begins again, but not too early for
you to be planning that next adventure on the South Fork. Shoot us an email.
06/04/17 Runoff is underway and will likely last for two weeks or more. Keep checking back
with us and we will keep you informed. You can email us and let us help you plan that next
fishing trip to the Flathead.
06/21/17 The river is still running high and stained from the runoff. Hopefully, it will be peaking
07/12/17 The river is mostly clear with okay levels to fish. We didn't receive any reports from
customers this past week. Look for Pale Morning and Pale Evening duns, Callebaetis,
(Speckled wing Quills, Salmon flies, Golden stones and little Yellow stones hatching. There
Spotted and Green sedge caddis hatching as well.
07/26/17 Still no reports from anyone fishing. The hot weather is melting a lot of snow and has
keep the level high cold. It should be getting into better shape very soon.
08/08/17 We have some customers fishing it right now, but haven't heard back. It appears that
all the conditions are in good shape.
08/23/17 We received one good report from a group that used an outfitter this past few
days. There are lots of hatches and lots of trout were caught. Conditions are good.
09/06/17 We didn't receive any reports from anyone fishing this past week. Conditions remain
09/27/17 The cooler weather has changed the hatches. As of now, Dark Red Quills,
Mahogany duns, Blue-winged olives, Spotted sedges, Little Sister caddis and October caddis
are hatching.
10/19/17 The tailwater below Hungry Horse Dam is turning out some good catches of trout.
You need to check the discharge rates and levels before going there but is it is reasonable
levels, you should be able to catch good numbers of trout. Midges, creams and reds, and
Blue-winged olives are hatching.
01/12/2018 Just a reminder that it isn't too early to start planning that next Flathead River trip.
Let us help you do just that. Send us an email at: