Montana Fly Fishing
The Smith River

Smith River

The Smith River

Overnight Montana Fly Fishing Trips on the Smith River
Experience the beauty of the Smith River canyon while camping in style.  Montana Angler Fly Fishing custom designs overnight float trips, lodging packages and wilderness pack trips on multiple world class rivers, spring creeks and private ranches.  Outfitter #10770.

Smith River at Camp Baker Fishing Access Site
Photo Use Guidelines

The Smith River is one of the finest rivers in Montana. Superb fishing, gorgeous scenery and a very remote setting combine to make a Montana fly fishing trip on the Smith River an unforgettable experience.

Unfortunately, gaining access to the river can be a bit of a problem. The Smith River flows through private land for almost its entire distance. Wade fishing is difficult on the Smith River due to a lack of fishing access sites. As a result, the most popular and effective way to fish the Smith River is by canoe, inflatable kayak or inflatable raft.

However, the Smith River is alone among other Montana Rivers, in that all parties wishing to float the Smith River need a permit. A drawing for the permit is held each February, with a limit of 9 float parties allowed to put in on the river on any given day. As a result, while access to the Smith River is difficult, the regulations moderate fishing pressure and allow for very long floats in relative solitude.

The Smith River begins near White Sulphur Springs, Montana, at the confluence of the North and South Fork Smith River. The river then twists and turns for more than 100 miles through remote and scenic landscapes before spilling into the Missouri River near Ulm, Montana.

The upper section of the Smith River, between its origin and above the Smith River Fishing Access Site, flows through gently rolling prairie, flanked by the tall peaks of the Big Belt Mountains and Little Belt Mountains. It is beautiful country, with sweeping wide-open vistas and incredible views. Other than the small town of White Sulphur Springs, the area is also very remote. Agricultural fields surround the river in this section, with extensive brush along its bank. A number of pools are also found on this stretch. Generally, the Smith River flows at a slow to moderate pace in this section, depending on water levels.

Upper Smith River at Smith River Fishing Access Site
Photo Use Guidelines

Just upstream from the Smith River fishing access site, the river twists and turns through a small canyon. The canyon, while small compared to the canyons found further downstream, is beautiful, with small, wooded hills flanking the river. As the canyon lies within state land, excellent access and camping exist.

After the Smith River emerges from this small canyon, it continues twisting and turning through private land across the broad valley, with agricultural fields lining the riverbanks. The river travels in this fashion for nine miles until reaching the Camp Baker Fishing Access Site, which is the most popular put-in spot.

Beginning at Camp Baker, the Smith River enters beautiful canyon country. Forested hills, towering rock walls and open meadows make for an exceptionally beautiful float in a relatively pristine setting. The river twists and turns extensively in the canyon section, and its narrow width can make floating a challenge at times. Happily, no whitewater is found on the Smith River other than a small Class II rapid that is easily managed. The flows of the river in this section vary from slow to moderate, depending on river levels.

The Smith River leaves the mountains behind and flows into the prairie about 10 miles upstream from the Eden Bridge Fishing Access Site, which is the next access site downstream from Camp Baker, a distance of more than sixty miles. While the Smith River is flowing in the prairie, the river itself is still located down in a canyon, with cottonwood trees and brush lining its banks.

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