Montana Fly Fishing
Middle Fork Flathead River

Middle Fork Flathead River

Middle Fork of the Flathead River

Middle Fork Flathead River near Moccasin Creek
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The Middle Fork of the Flathead River begins just outside the Great Bear Wilderness, which is located south of Glacier National Park. It soon enters the wilderness area and begins a beautiful, frequently wild ride through the heart of the wilderness area. Flowing past huge mountains and through deep canyons, the Middle Fork, along with the South Fork, is Montana's premier wilderness river. The remote setting of the Middle Fork keeps the wilderness portion of this river relatively free of both fishermen and floaters. Except for during spring run-off, which can well into July in some years, the waters of the Middle Fork Flathead River are exceptionally clear.

The Middle Fork emerges from the wilderness area near Essex, where it flows past a unique place called the "Goat Lick." Here, salt is found on the grounds surface high along the banks of the river. Numerous mountain goats can often be seen here, as they travel down from their high peaks for the salt. Grizzly Bears and other wildlife are also frequently found here as well.

Middle Fork Flathead River near Paolo Creek
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Beginning in Essex, the Middle Fork Flathead River parallels Highway 2 all the way down to West Glacier, although the river is generally out of sight as it often lies hundreds of vertical feet below and well back from the road. Numerous designated and undesignated access points exist between Essex and West Glacier, allowing for easy access and countless potential camp sites. Its also a very scenic section of the Middle Fork - with the towering mountains of Glacier National Park and the Great Bear Wilderness frequently visible. The middle portion of the river, between Essex and Moccasin Creek, only has moderate pressure from floaters and fishermen.

As the river approaches West Glacier, it becomes a popular place for individual and guide service float trips, as numerous rapids exist just above West Glacier. After West Glacier, the whitewater section ends and most of the floaters disappear, as the river itself slows down as it flows towards its junction with the North Fork of the Flathead River at Blakenship Bridge - which forms the main stem of the Flathead River.

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