Montana Fly Fishing
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The Blackfoot River
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The Blackfoot River is one of the finest rivers in Montana. Exceptional scenery, classic trout water habitat and a wide variety in the river all combine to make a fly fishing trip on the Blackfoot River a memorable one.
Prior to the 1992 release of the movie A River Runs Through It, the Blackfoot River was not well known by out-state anglers. Today, the Blackfoot is one of the more popular rivers in Montana, for fly fishing, rafting and just relaxing. An angler floating down the Blackfoot River will find whitewater enthusiasts running the numerous rapids, many wade fisherman, and in the lower stretches of the river, people floating down the river on inner-tubes and other "various things" that just happen to float. The rivers close proximity to Missoula, which is the fastest growing region of the state, has also led to an increased use of the river.
While the Blackfoot River is indeed popular and receives heavy use, actual fly fishing pressure is not as heavy as some other notable Montana rivers. Much of the use on the Blackfoot is for non-fishing uses. As a result, the fishing on the Blackfoot is excellent, helped in large part by excellent management by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP).
The Blackfoot River, for more than 30 miles on the lower stretch of the river, flows through the "Blackfoot River Recreation Corridor." This corridor is a cooperative land agreement between FWP and the private landowners along the river, which has allowed for excellent access to the river while reducing the impact from its heavy use.
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The Blackfoot River begins along the continental divide in the mountains outside Lincoln, and flows through scenic and diverse countryside for 130 miles before its confluence with the Clark Fork near the town of Bonner.
In the upper half of the river, the Blackfoot runs slowly through dense forests with brushy and timbered banks. Numerous logjams are found in the river. Access is excellent above Lincoln, as much of the river flows through National Forest land. Below Lincoln, several fishing access sites exist, in addition good road access is found just off of Highway 200 for much of this stretch.
Beginning near River Junction Fishing Access Site, about the halfway point on the river, the Blackfoot picks up velocity and continues with quick to moderate flows all the way down to the Clark Fork. For the first twelve, the Blackfoot River flows through a broad, sparsely wooded plain. A wildlife preserve exists on the far side of the road to the north of the river. This section of the river is an excellent spot to observe wildlife. Elk, moose, deer and bears can all be found along this section.
The river then flows through a beautiful canyon, which has some whitewater at the tail end of it, and then soon joins the Clearwater River at Clearwater Junction. Beneath Clearwater Junction, the Blackfoot enters the mountains and the protected river corridor. The pace of the river through this section is quick, with many moderate rapids and deep pools. Many designated campsites exist along this section of river. One thing to keep in mind is that camping is not allowed except at designated campsites in the Blackfoot River Recreation Corridor.
The river emerges from the mountains just a couple of miles above the Clark Fork. All use of the river ends a half-mile above Bonner, as a small dam blocks the way. Below the dam, the river flows for another mile and a half before the confluence with the Clark Fork.
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