Regional Reports-West

Blackfoot River

June and July see big-bug hatches on the Blackfoot River that can't be missed. The bugs are easy to see when floating and big fish show up to eat, and your casts don't have to be delicate or perfect. In June as runoff roils the Blackfoot all the way to Ovando, watch for big adult salmonflies on the surface and dredge large, rubber-legged stonefly nymphs along the shoreline cobble. In July, the golden stoneflies come up. Try bead-head Golden Stone nymph patterns or yellow Stimulators. Later in July, grasshopper patterns and natural-colored hardware fool west-slope cutthroat trout and lesser numbers of rainbows and browns (release all bull trout). The Blackfoot, born on the Continental Divide east of Lincoln, bends its way to the Clark Fork near Missoula. A half-dozen white-water stretches along its route can bump you into boulders, so if you float, do it in a rubber raft rather than a hard-sided boat. Best floats, for a mix of top fishing, great scenery and semi-technical water, are from Russell Gates to Roundup, from Roundup to River Bend and from Johnsrud to Bonner. Contact: CrossCurrents Fly Shop in Helena (406-449-2292); Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Missoula (406-542-5500).