North Fork Flathead River
Fishing Information

North Fork Flathead River

Fishing the North Fork Flathead River

North Fork Flathead River
Photo Use Guidelines

Due to the cold, clear, low nutrient water, fly fishing in the North Fork Flathead River can be spotty. During the summer months, numerous smaller cutthroats in the 8-12 inch range cruise the river. They are easy to catch on various caddisfly and mayfly imitations, floated around submerged and partially submerged structure, such as rocks and downed trees.

Wet flies also work well, especially in the numerous deep pools. To get the proper depth, a sink tip line or weights are frequently needed as these pools can be quite deep.

For the spin fisherman, small spoons (hopefully with the barbs removed!), fished around the rocks and pools will pull in these cutthroats as well.

While fishing for cutthroats, especially if an angler is using a larger wet fly or streamer, the possibility of hooking a moster bull trout exists. These fish, which travel up from Flathead Lake on a somewhat unpredictable basis to spawn in the north fork tributaries, aren't picky eaters. Just remember, it is illegal to intentionally fish for or keep a bull trout.

North Fork Flathead River
Photo Use Guidelines

Wade fishing is generally good along the river. Access for the wade fisherman is generally easy, as the north fork road closely parallels the river for much of it's length, although some bushwhacking is likely going to be required to reach the better spots and deeper holes.

However, while access is good, fly fishing from along shore can be very difficult due to steep hillsides, rocky terrain and dense vegetation. An inflatable raft or other boat is particularly helpful to reach the "hidden pools" between Big Creek and Glacier Rim River Access. While the road is nearby, the river frequently flows down in a steep canyon, making road access difficult.

Overall, the North Fork Flathead River may not appeal to the angler in search of large, trophy sized trout. That said, between the eager cutthroat fly fishing, the beautiful scenery and the wonderful float trips that can be taken on the North Fork, this river ranks as one of Montana's finest rivers and is worthy of a visit by someone on a Montana fly fishing trip.

Next Page : Floating the North Fork Flathead River


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