Montana Fly Fishing
The Beaverhead River

Beaverhead River

Fly Fishing the Beaverhead River

Beaverhead River : Barretts Diversion Dam to Dillon

Beaverhead River near Barretts Diversion Dam 
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This section of the Beaverhead River, which covers fourteen miles, also has excellent fly fishing. Overall fish populations are not as high as they are above Barretts Diversion Dam. However, this section has equally as large brown trout, and fly fishing pressure is significantly less on this stretch than between Clark Canyon Reservoir and the diversion dam, resulting in fish that are less finicky and difficult.

Access is difficult along this stretch. The Beaverhead River primarily flows through private land as it spills out of the canyon into the broad valley near Dillon. Access spots are widely spaced apart. Additionally, due to irrigation withdrawls at Barretts Diversion Dam, low water is also a frequent problem for floaters along this stretch, especially in mid-summer.

Despite these problems, this stretch of the Beaverhead River offers excellent fly fishing possibilities. As the river is much shallower and has slower current, wade fishing along this stretch is excellent. While low water levels can create some problems for floaters, the slower current provides the angler with more time to select fishing spots and without the constant line mending done further upstream.

Additionally, while an angler will not find solitude along this stretch, except for perhaps in the winter, anglers will also not have to confront a highway of floating rafts either. And for the wade angler willing to walk up or downstream away from the handful of access sites, they are likely to find areas of water that are not heavily fished. Rattlesnakes are commonly found along the Beaverhead River, so watch where you step.

Fishing technique on this stretch differs little from the stretch above. Nymph fishing is still the key to taking larger trout, fishing them right along the banks and into the deeper holes.

However, the dry fly angler will find a friendlier river than upstream. Excellent caddis hatches occur along this section the entire year in the evenings once it begins to cool. The Elk Hair Caddis works well during these hatches. An additional option for the dry fly angler is to fish attractor patterns, floating them right along the bank, especially where obstruction such as logjams and rocks are found.

Beaverhead River : Dillon to Confluence with Ruby River

Lower Beaverhead River 
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From Dillon downstream, fish populations thin out quite substantially. Large fish are found in this section, but their numbers are significantly less than found further upstream. During the summer, this stretch of the Beaverhead River usually gets quite warm, as it runs slowly out in the middle of a very arid valley. Because of the warm water and slow current, fly fishing this stretch during the summer can yield few results. Most anglers hit this stretch of the Beaverhead River during the fall once the weather and water begin to cool down.

That said, cooler summer weather can often times bring solid fishing on this stretch. Periods of cool and cloudy weather can often bring solid fishing for brown trout on this section during the summer, particularly if river flows are still decent. So don't rule this stretch out entirely if you visit the Beaverhead River during the summer. While fish populations are less per mile, the trout are just as large as found further upstream. Additionally, the trout receive substantially less fly fishing pressure than found further upstream.

However, for those anglers looking more for a secluded float than spectacular fishing on the Beaverhead, then this stretch is for you. Few anglers fish this stretch, and fewer yet float it. Access to the river is also sparse on this stretch.

Throughout this stretch, the river flows are very slow and windy conditions are frequent. For this reason, canoes or inflatable kayaks or pontoon boats are the best vessels to use, as the angler can at least easily paddle their way through the many very slow water stretches.

Next Page : Floating the Beaverhead River

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