Montana Fly Fishing
The Jefferson River

Jefferson River

Fly Fishing the Jefferson River

Jefferson River near Cardwell 
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The Jefferson River, as mentioned, is predominantly a brown trout river. Rainbows, due to frequent low water, high temperatures and bouts with whirling disease, have taken a beating in the Jefferson River. The entire river is currently catch-and-release for rainbow trout.

The best fly fishing on the Jefferson River is found in the upper section, between Twin Bridges and Cardwell. In this section, brown trout averaging twelve to fourteen inches are common. As the Jefferson River is inhabited primarily by brown trout, fly fishing on the surface produces little action. Fly fishing the Jefferson River, as in other brown trout waters, requires using large streamer or nymphs to catch the larger fish. During the summer, popular choices include Muddler Minnows, Prince Nymphs and Matukas. The Jefferson River does have solid caddis hatches, but the larger fish will rarely be caught using an elk hair caddis or similar dry fly.

For the angler who only wants to fly fish on top, solid action can be had in late summer using hoppers. The Jefferson River flows through good hopper country, especially on the lower twenty miles where hayfields frequently come up to the bank. Hoppers floated right along the banks can often entice large browns up to the surface.

The best and most consistent fly fishing on the Jefferson River occurs during the fall. During the fall, the brown trout congregate at the mouths of the many inlet streams that feed into the Jefferson.

The Jefferson River, as it is fairly wide and can be quite deep, is most easily fished by boat. The Jefferson River does have very good access, but its depth and width can make reaching the prime fly fishing spots difficult for anglers lacking a fishing boat.

Next Page : Floating the Jefferson River

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