Northwest Montana Rivers

Salmon Forks Outfitters / Wilderness Fly Fishing  
Fly fish the South Fork Flathead. Horseback into our Wilderness fishing camp, five & seven day fishing trips, very remote, great fishing, no crowds. Outfitter #1990.

Salmon Fork Outfitters  
Horseback into our Wilderness Fishing Camp to fish the South Fork Flathead. Outfitter #1990.

Anglers on a Montana fly fishing trip often forget about the rivers in Northwest Montana. Despite flowing through spectacular scenery and not having the irrigation issues found elsewhere in Montana, the rivers in Northwest Montana, except for the Kootenai River, receive low fly fishing pressure. Floaters and anglers often have the river to themselves in Northwest Montana.

North Fork Flathead River in Northwest Montana
North Fork Flathead River

Of course, there is a reason for the low fly fishing pressure. Most of the easily accessible rivers in Northwest Montana aren’t home to trophy trout or have the solid trout fishing found elsewhere in Montana. In Northwest Montana, only the Yaak River and the Kootenai River provide consistent trout fishing combined with good accessibility.

However, Northwest Montana is home to the wildest rivers in Montana. And for the anglers who are willing to spend the time to gain access to them, some superb fly-fishing for wild trout awaits. The Middle Fork of the Flathead River and the South Fork of the Flathead River both have excellent fishing in the wilderness areas that form their headwaters. The North Fork Flathead River also gives an angler a chance to have an encounter with a monstrous bull trout.

Northwest Montana provides many benefits to visiting anglers. First is the proximity too many outdoor recreational opportunities, from deep wilderness exploration to whitewater rafting. Glacier National Park, with its beautiful lakes, mountains and extensive hiking trail network, also provide a wide variety of recreation beyond fly fishing. Additionally, several pleasant, well stocked towns for the angler, such as Whitefish and Kalispell, allow anglers to enjoy the benefit of small cities while still having quick access to quiet and secluded rivers.

Overall, except for of the popular Kootenai River, the rivers of Northwest Montana are not popular destination fishing spots for out-state anglers. However, what Northwest Montana lacks in massive rainbow trout it makes up for in its variety of fishing conditions in a beautiful and remote setting. An angler on a Montana fly fishing trip should not pass on the opportunities to fish in Northwest Montana.

The Rivers of Northwest Montana

Flathead River Flathead River
middle-fork-flathead-river.php Middle Fork Flathead River
North Fork Flathead River
  South Fork Flathead River
Kootenai River
  Stillwater River
Swan River
Thompson River
Whitefish River
Yaak River


Direct links to view the photo galleries for various rivers in Northwest Montana.

  • Flathead River
  • Middle Fork Flathead River
  • South Fork Flathead River
  • Kootenai River
  • Swan River
  • Thompson River
  • Yaak River

River Flow Information