Montana Fly Fishing
The Flathead River

The Flathead River - Main Stem

The Flathead River and the Flathead Mountains
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The Flathead River begins at the confluence of the Middle and North Forks of the Flathead River. Each of the three forks of the Flathead River (North, South, Middle) are discussed seperately in their own sections, as each of the forks are distinct rivers.

The Flathead River is a large river. Draining a sizeable portion of NW Montana, including parts of Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the waters of the Flathead River flow swiftly through some of the most beautiful scenery Montana has to offer.

The Flathead River is divided into two distinct rivers seperated by Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the Western United States.

Above the lake, the Flathead River flows through the upper Flathead Valley, home to such popular towns as Whitefish and Kalispell. The river is wide and frequently quite deep. As the water in the Flathead River is fed predominantly by snowmelt and mountain lakes, the water is usually quite cold even well into the summer. For most of its journey above the lake, the Flathead River flows very swiftly but gently, not slowing down until near the confluence with Flathead Lake.

Below Flathead Lake, the river is regulated by Kerr Dam, which also regulates the level of Flathead Lake. Below the Dam, the flows of the Flathead River vary wildly, and can greatly impact both fishing and floating. Numerous rapids exist that can make floating a challenge (see floating information for more detail).

The Flathead River ends at the confluence with the Clark Fork in the vicinity of Plains, MT.

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