Montana Fly Fishing Guided Trips, Guide School, Fly Shop Big Sky MT


  • Favorite Stretch: Dam to Barrett's Diverson
  • Seasons: Year-round.
  • Prime Hatches: Blue Winged Olives, caddis, tricos, terrestrials.

The cold water of Clark Canyon Reservoir makes for a river that produces hatches, and trout, of large proportions. These factors have created an amazing fishery. The downside: ease of access makes this river seem more crowded than it really should be, or can be. Because it is such a small river - often times less than 100 feet wide - wading anglers and floaters don't always coexist peacefully on this stretch as sometimes there is just not enough room for everyone. Keep in mind that peak season up here is May through September, and into October and November you may have the river to yourself.

Sections of the Beaverhead River

From Barretts Diversion Dam to Anderson Lane Fishing Access Site

This stretch of the Beaverhead sees considerably less pressure than above Barretts. For the fourteen miles from Barretts to Dillon, the river looks and feels very similar to the upper river, and it is very similar with exception of a few things: There are less fish, less anglers, and less insect life.

Does that mean it is not worth fishing? Quite the contrary. Above Dillon the river opens into the Beaverhead Valley and views of five mountain ranges can be had. The fishing and hatches are similar to the upper river so there is no need to drastically adjust one's angling techniques. There are still plenty of fish and still lots of large fish all they way through the town of Dillon and down to Anderson Lane. The numbers below Dillon drop to 350-500 fish per mile in any given year, but keep in mind the river itself is still quite small down here so there is little room for the fish to hide and they have to eat sometime . . .

From Anderson Lane to the confluence of the Big Hole and start of the Jefferson

This stretch of the is dominated by the geographic formation of Beaverhead Rock, appropriately named by Native Americans and then brought to widespread fame by the Lewis and Clark Expedition as the passed through this valley on their trek. Lewis and Clark found solitude on this stretch and, even today, most anglers find solitude as well. Because of the relatively windy and brushy nature of the river down here and the lack of fish numbers this stretch is mainly fished by local outfitters and guides who know this water intimately.

The further an angler travels downstream fish populations thin out substantially. Large fish are found in this section, but there are far fewer of them than upriver. During the summer, this run can have very warm water temps, as it meanders in a broad valley with little in the way of current or cold tributaries to provide cool water or oxygen. Because of the warm water and slow current few anglers venture down here, unless a summer cold front hits then you might see the occasional angler wanting to get away from the crowds, but they are accepting the fact there are less fish and possibly more wind.

The closer one gets Twin Bridges the view of the Tobacco Roots become more amazing, but the fish populations stay low and anglers have a more difficult time gaining access. Floating anglers require long floats and at low flows that can more for a long day. Because of the previously mentioned characteristics this stretch of the Beaverhead is great for anglers who want water with less people but are willing to also see less fish.

Tributary Streams and Rivers

The Ruby River
  • Length: Headwaters above Ruby Reservoir to the confluence with the Beaverhead at Twin Bridges
  • Favorite Stretch: Ruby Dam to Laurin
  • Seasons: Late June through August
  • Fish Species: Rainbow, Brown, Whitefish
  • Prime Hatches: Caddis in July.

The Ruby is a smaller tailwater that can fish remarkably well. It is mainly for wading anglers and those who are willing to walk will find plenty of water on the Ruby. Hatches of caddis, some stoneflies, and various mayfly species will keep most anglers busy. Rainbow and brown trout are the main species in the Ruby; an occasional pig brown trout can be caught on the Ruby.

One of the favored ways to fish the Ruby is with streamers and anglers who have not wade-fished streamers are in for a treat while fishing this river. However the Ruby is not limited strictly to experienced anglers, in fact beginners will find the Ruby's trout are eager and willing to strike most anything.

Access on this river is tough as most of the land surrounding it is private, but with careful wading - staying below the highwater mark - wading anglers will have more water than they care to fish. Be very courteous while wade fishing and remember, in Montana, taking the time to strike up a conversation with a local will be priceless when goodwill is important.

In short, the Beaverhead is productive, popular, and just plain fun.

McCoy's Spring Creek
  • Length: A few miles
  • Favorite Stretch: The entire run of either area
  • Seasons: April through August
  • Fish Species: Rainbow, Brown
  • Prime Hatches: Pale Morning Duns.

The McCoy Cattle Company owns the waters commonly referred to as McCoy's Spring Creek. There are actually a few sections of water on their property and they are truly a treat for the skilled angler. The creeks are surrounded with stunning vistas, including the towering Ruby, Blacktail, and Pioneer mountain ranges. The views match the fishing which is a unique combination of stalking, micro dry fly fishing, and stripping buggers in the deeper holes.

The McCoy's have a policy that requires first-time visitors to hire a local guide, a policy that ensures first-timer's have a good experience while fishing the challenging water.

Fishing the water of McCoy's Spring Creek requires anglers to pay a rod fee. However, if you are up for a challenge the creeks are well-managed and you are sure to have an enjoyable day testing your wits against some big trout.

The creeks are not impossible fishing by any means, but their location at the valley bottom means there can often be wind and being a reasonably astute caster is important to success on this creek - the trout here grow large and strong because they are seldom bothered - and a sloppy cast will surely cease any feeding.