The Marias River
The Marias River begins at the confluence of Cut Bank Creek and Two
Medicine River, near Cut Bank, Montana. The Marias River twists and turns
for more than sixty miles through rolling prairie, before spilling into
Lake Elwell, a twenty-seven mile long lake formed by Tiber Dam. Although
the river flows through prairie, it is still enjoyable, as cottonwood
trees line its banks.
Below Tiber Dam, the Marias River continues to flow through
the Montana prairie, with small sandstone cliffs and cottonwood
trees marking the rivers course. The countryside below
Tiber Dam is very remote. Access to the river is difficult,
and the distance between access points is often considerable.
The Marias River flows for an additional eighty miles below
Tiber Dam to its confluence with the Missouri
There are no rapids or whitewater on the Marias River.
While a raft will work for floating the Marias River, a
canoe or inflatable
kayak are the best boats to use. Pockets
of slow water, combined with potentially high winds, can
lead to difficult floating for rafts.
The upper stretch of the Marias River, between its origin
and Lake Elwell, has limited trout fishing but can provide
decent fishing for walleyes, bass, large catfish and lots
The best trout fishing will be found in the first twelve
miles or so below Tiber Dam. Below the dam, large brown
trout can be found in fair numbers, averaging over three
pounds with some approaching ten pounds. Rainbow trout
can also be found, although their numbers and sizes are
well below that of the local brown trout population.
Fishing pressure is very low on the Marias River below
Tiber Dam. The bulk of the fly fishing that ooccurs on
the Marias River is just below the dam.
In this stretch below the dam, the Marias River has many
deep pools, some runs and a few small riffles, as well
as a number of braids. Cottonwood trees also line the bank,
with an occasional downed tree providing much needed cover
for the trout. The river is also quite wide and deep, limiting
a wade fisherman's ability to reach the productive fishing
spots on the river, which is an important consideration.
Unlike some other Montana rivers that have fish seemingly
crowding all along the stream bottom, the trout on the
Marias River are generally very dispersed. When fishing
the Marias River, focus in on those deep pools and other
prime waters, ignoring the rest of the river.
The flies of choice for fishing this stretch of the Marias
River include minnow imitations such as the Muddle Minnow.
Not surprisingly, as the river runs through prime hopper
country, hopper imitations become very important come mid-summer
and work very well through mid-September. Since fly fishing
pressure is low, standard dry fly imitations also work
well for the smaller fish, but are unlikely to catch the
really large brown trout that are found in the Marias.
Beginning about twelve miles or so below Tiber Dam, productive
trout fishing tapers off due to the warming waters, irrigation
and slower flows of the river. While some large brown trout
can still be found, the Marias River turns over into a
warm water fishery, with shovelnose sturgeon, walleye,
pike, catfish and bass being the primary species. As smallmouth
bass are lods of fun to catch fly fishing, don't rule out
this stretch of the river. Use a crayfish, dragging it
along the bottom.
Marias River : River Miles
Shelby Golf Course Access: 142
Old Highway 91 Bridge Access: 140
Highway 417 Bridge Access: 117
Tiber Reservoir Inlet: 107
Tiber Dam: 80
County Road Bridge Acces: 75
County Road Bridge Access: 69
Highway 223 Bridge Access: 60
Rudyard Road Bridge Access: 39
Highway 87 Bridge Access: 2.4
Confluence with Missouri River: 0
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