Catch Trout So Big They're Scary

Beaverhead River, Dillon

It's easy to think New Zealand might be obsolete after a day's float on the Beaverhead. Huge brown trout come eagerly to dry flies and nymphs with astonishing regularity, despite the narrow channels, swift river flows, and steady armada of rafts (not drift boats) custom-rigged to negotiate the river's abrupt channel swerves and bobbing currents. But the real adrenaline junkie will try to talk a local guide service into a moonlit float from Buffalo Bridge downstream. (You can do it yourself, but given the intricacies of the river channel, it usually isn't a good idea.) Nighttime is when the "big boys" eat-trout 2 feet or longer that crash the surface for mouse flies, snakes, or other gaudy topwater patterns. More info: Tim Tollett's Frontier Anglers, 800-228-5263; frontieranglers.com

Next Best: Missouri River, Craig, Montana Missouri River trout have a hard-surging energy. Legendary Montana guide Rusty Vorous once hypothesized that you could tail-tie a Missouri trout to any other trout in the West, and the Missouri trout would drag the other up the river until it drowned. More info: Guide Pete Cardinal, 406-235-9055; moangler.com