Montana Fly Fishing
The Jefferson River

Jefferson River

The Jefferson River

Jefferson River near Waterloo 
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The Jefferson River begins near Twin Bridges, Montana, with the confluence of the Beaverhead River, Big Hole River and the Ruby River. It flows for more than eighty miles to its confluence with the Missouri River and Missouri River Headwaters State Park.

The Jefferson River is not in the same league, fishing wise, that its neighboring rivers are. The current is slow, and irrigation can literally suck sections of the river dry during drought periods. Wade fishing is somewhat difficult. The Jefferson River is deep in many places and frequently is hemmed in by steep banks that must be scrambled down.

The Jefferson River is divided into three rather distinct sections. The upper section flows meanders for fifty miles through a broad and arid valley at a moderately slow pace. The banks of the Jefferson River are brushy and are frequently undercut.

In the middle section, the Jefferson River flows through a steep, arid canyon. A road parallels the river on one side while railroad tracks follow it on the other, providing decent access. The Jefferson River flows slowly through this section and can be quite deep.

The Jefferson River emerges from the canyon seven miles later and flows into another broad valley. In this section, the river has many braids and channels, especially near the State Park. Cottonwood trees line the bank while hay fields are a common sight.

Throughout its length, the Jefferson River is primarily a brown trout river. For anglers seeking rainbows, jump across the mountains and hit the Madison River, head over to the upstream section of the Big Hole River or go further downstream and fish the blue-ribbon stretch of the Missouri River. Of course, the lack of trophy rainbow trout fishing on the Jefferson River does have one nice quality - lack of fishing pressure. Anglers who are searching for brown trout in a non-crowded environment are likely to find the Jefferson River an enjoyable river.

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