Blue Stream Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing Report for:

Clark Fork - Below Missoula - Montana

Hatch Chart - Best Access/Spots - Local Fish - About

Water Flow Chart

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Using Water Flow Charts & Weather Reports: Begin with our water flow charts to grasp stream velocity and volume – look for stable or rising trends to pinpoint ideal fishing times. Learn to interpret sudden spikes or drops, which can indicate potential challenges. Next, consult our weather reports to understand ambient conditions. Pairing the two, you can anticipate fish behavior, choose the right gear, and select the best fishing spots. Use these tools together for a holistic approach to your next fishing adventure.

In-Depth Weather

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Directions To Location

Hatch Chart

Month Hatch Time of Day Recommended Fly Sizes Popular Fly Patterns
January Midges Afternoon 18-22 Zebra Midge, Griffith's Gnat
Winter Stoneflies Late Afternoon 14-16 Black Stonefly Nymph
February Winter Stoneflies Afternoon 14-16 Black Stonefly Nymph
Midges Late Afternoon 18-22 Griffith's Gnat, Zebra Midge
March Blue Winged Olives Afternoon 18-20 Blue Winged Olive, Pheasant Tail Nymph
Large Dark Stoneflies Evening 12-14 Black Stonefly Nymph
April Blue Winged Olives Dusk 18-20 BWO Emerger, BWO Dry Fly
March Browns Afternoon 12-14 March Brown Nymph, Comparadun March Brown
May SALMONFLIES All Day 2-6 Pat's Rubber Legs, Black Stimulator
Blue Winged Olives Evening 16-18 Blue Winged Olive, Pheasant Tail Nymph
June Green Drakes Afternoon 10-12 Green Drake, Green Drake Cripple
Yellow Sallies Evening 14-16 Yellow Sally, Little Yellow Stone
July Tricos Morning 22-24 Trico Spinner, Trico Dun
PMD Afternoon 14-16 PMD Dun, PMD Emerger
August Tricos Morning 22-24 Trico Spinner, Trico Dun
PMD Afternoon 14-16 PMD Dun, PMD Emerger
September Blue Winged Olives Afternoon 18-20 BWO Emerger, BWO Dry Fly
October Midges Afternoon 18-22 Zebra Midge, Griffith's Gnat
Blue Winged Olives Afternoon 18-20 BWO Emerger, BWO Dry Fly
November Midges Afternoon 18-22 Zebra Midge, Griffith's Gnat
December Midges Afternoon 18-22 Zebra Midge, Griffith's Gnat

While we strive to ensure the precision of our hatch charts, some reflect broader river region insights. Through ongoing partnerships with local guides and fly shops, we’re committed to refining our data. Should you notice any inconsistencies or have feedback, we welcome you to reach out. 

Best Fishing Spots

Renowned for its impressive Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout, the section of the Clark Fork River located below Missoula in Montana provides numerous ideal spots for fly fishing:

  • Kelly Island: Accessible from the west end of Spurgin Road, this area is particularly renowned for its spring fly fishing opportunities.
  • Tower Street Conservation Area: Located just below the confluence of the Bitterroot and Clark Fork Rivers, this area provides excellent hatches of Mayflies, Caddis, and Stoneflies.
  • Turah Bridge: This spot near the Turah Bridge provides ample space for wade fishing.
  • Rock Creek: Just off I-90, the mouth of Rock Creek is another excellent spot for catching Brown and Rainbow Trout.

Acquiring a detailed map and a local fishing guide will undoubtedly enhance your fly fishing experience on the Clark Fork River below Missoula.

Best Access Points

The Clark Fork River, below Missoula, presents some of the best access points for fly fishing. Some notable ones are:

  • Clark Fork River at Turah: Easily accessible from I-90 and offers significant variety of fish species, especially trout. Also, optimal for both float and wade fishing.
  • The Johnsrud Park: Is a popular destination featuring both a boat ramp and fishing access site.
  • Tarkio: Here, the fishing access site is near the Tarkio Bridge with ample parking and a boat launch ramp.

Here are also some tips for efficient fishing on Clark Fork:

  1. If float fishing, more productive hours tend to be in the morning or late evening.
  2. Wade fishing is generally most productive in areas with significant structure and depth changes.

Local Fish

  • Westslope Cutthroat Trout: This is a strictly catch and release fish, which makes it an exciting target for sport fishing on the Clark Fork.
  • Rainbow Trout: These fish are abundant in this river, making them one of the most targeted species.
  • Mountain Whitefish: While often overlooked by many fly anglers, this native fish species can offer quite a challenge.
  • Brown Trout: This species is becoming more popular in recent years among the Clark Fork anglers due to their size.
  • Pickerel: Although not as common as trout, pickerel can be a fun challenge for experienced fly fishermen.
  • Northern Pike: These fish are aggressive feeders, which makes them a thrilling catch for fly fishing.
  • Smallmouth Bass: Their strength and aggressiveness make them an exciting target for fly fishers.
  • Pumpkinseed Sunfish: Despite their small size, these fish are quite the fighters making them a fan favorite among fly fishermen.

About The River

The picturesque Clark Fork River holds immense historical significance! Running right below the heart of Missoula, it’s seen a fair share of changes.

Originally inhabited by the Salish tribe, the area witnessed the arrival of Lewis and Clark’s expedition in 1805. The river was subsequently named after William Clark.

With the gold rush came settlers, forever transforming the landscape. The once unblemished river end endured mining activities, drastically impacting the river’s health.

River improvements began in the 1930s with construction of Milltown Dam to control flooding. But its presence led to built-up toxic sediments.

In the 2000s, an ambitious rehabilitation project was set in motion. The dam was removed and the largest Superfund projects ever initiated was dedicated to cleaning the riverbed.

  • The former dam site today is a thriving State Park.
  • The improved health of the river allows for retuned salmon species.
  • The Clark Fork is now celebrated with river festivals and outdoor activities.

From mining scars to recreational marvel, the striking journey of the Clark Fork, below Missoula, mirrors the resilience of nature when given a chance.

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