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Old 06-07-2013, 11:04 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 92
Montana Trip

With our first child on the way this fall the wife and I decided we would take one last out of state road trip where we only have to pack provisions for ourselves. Next summer we will be packing strollers, bounce arounds, diapers and whatever else our little crap factory (Beautiful baby girl but I am sure this time next summer she will also be a crap factory) will need.

We decided we will be heading up to the Beaverhead River below Clark Canyon Reservoir. My wife's parents live in Helena and they will be driving down and setting up camp for us along the river where we will stay from 7/3 to 7/8. My father in law is retiring from Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks this year. He has a drift boat and has tied more flies for the trip than we will ever use. I am confident getting in to fish will not be a problem. We will spending 7/8-7/12 in Helena and will fish the Missouri below Holter lake and probably the Yellowstone.

I am extremely excited about this trip, however, I have one dilemma. I love my in laws and the other family members that will be camping with us but I feel by the 3rd or 4th day in camp I am going to need a little escape. I'd like to take about a half day for myself and do a little mountain stream or lake fishing. I have targeted the Beaverhead Range on the Idaho/Montana border. There are a number of streams and lakes that are only 45 minutes from where our camp will be so I could be back to camp in time for lunch. I have narrowed selections down to Big Lake Creek, Twin Lakes, Upper Miner Lakes, or the headwaters of the Big Hole. I think these waters hold only small brookies and cutts but that is more than fine with me. I am just looking for some nice scenery and a chance to wet a line. If anyone has any other suggestions or experience in this area I would greatly appreciate your input. I'll be posting pics and a report when I get back.

I found an interesting side note that some of you may not be aware of. The Big Hole River headwaters begin at the base of Bloody **** Mountain. (Look it up, I couldn't make it up if I tried)

Now its time for TTF to make some comments about beavers.
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Old 06-07-2013, 12:22 PM
AFFamily AFFamily is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 23
Might be too much of a drive for you but I've done well on the Clark Fork in the past with a fly and bubble setup.
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Old 06-07-2013, 01:45 PM
KellyC KellyC is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 83
I used to fish the Big Hole every summer in the late 80's. It contains a lot of brown trout as well as rainbows and cuttys. The upper reaches also offer grayling, and the water gets prettier the further upstream you go. We always fished it near Butte. You could also drive over the hill to Ennis and fish the Madison.
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:23 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 92
Thanks for the ideas guys. I floated the Madison 3 days in a row the summer before last and it was pretty amazing. It will be a little too far away from our camp though. I am trying to keep my drive time down under an hour each way and still get in a solid 4 hours of fishing.
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Old 06-07-2013, 04:38 PM
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TimL TimL is offline
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Posts: 679
Wow man! Sounds like an epic trip. Also, congrats on the lil' crap factory! It is a gift from God.
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Old 06-07-2013, 06:18 PM
herefishy herefishy is offline
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Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 374
There are a couple of little creeks up on the west side of the Clark Canyon reservoir, too. One of them has the same name as the mountain you named, and supposedly has decent fishing.
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Old 08-19-2013, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 92
I finally got some time to upload some pics on the link below.

We fished 8 days straight. The first 3 days (7/4-7/6) we fished the Beaverhead below Clark Canyon. We didn't catch a ton of fish but the few we did were nice with the biggest being 22" and pushing 4 lbs. We floated a section a few miles below the dam and caught browns in the 14-19" range. Most fish were taken on gold bh nymphs in sizes 18 and 20.

The rest of the trip was based out of Helena where we fished the Little Blackfoot, the Missouri, and the North Fork of the Blackfoot. The Missouri below Holter produced some big fish with the average measuring 18-19". The weeds were getting pretty bad so bringing fish to hand was challenging. They would nose right in to the weeds and by the time we would get them to the boat the line and the fish would have about 5 lbs of weed on them. We floated the Missouri 2 days and waded another with pretty good results. We boated a handful of 20"+ fish each day and lost quite a few due to the weeds. The water was low and getting pretty warm so the fishing was not as good as it typically is in early July.

We fished the Little Blackfoot west of Elliston one day and did pretty well on a mixture of nymphs and dries. We caught mostly small browns but managed to hook and land a few in the 14" range. I caught a small fish that looked a little like a striped bass and thought it was a whitefish but wasn't positive. If you see the pic and know what it is let me know.

The highlight of the trip was getting to fish the North Fork of the Blackfoot in the Scapegoat Wilderness. We hiked 5 miles upstream from the trailhead and fished our way back. Between my father in law and myself we landed 35-40 good sized cutts in about 4 hours time. All of the fish were taken on a random array of dries. I started off with stimulators and then switched to hoppers then yellow sallies, ants, and some small caddis to finish the day. The fish weren't picky. Basically the only reason I had to keep switching flies was because the fish would hit the fly so hard after a couple of fish the fly would be in pretty rough shape. We did end up landing 2 or 3 fish 18" or just over but most were in the 13-14" range. I saw 1 or 2 come up for a peek that were easily over 18" so I have no doubt there are 20"+ Cutthroats in this river. The water is so clear it is unreal. The pictures don't do it justice and next time I will be taking my gopro and getting under water footage.

If any of you get a chance to spend a week in Montana try to get to the North Fork of the Blackfoot for Cutthroats and the Beaverhead for some monster rainbows.

This was a great trip and I am hoping to make a repeat trip in July 2015 only because I already have a central Idaho trip on the books for August 2014 (Wife and baby in tow).

I wish I had more time to write but I gotta get back to work.
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Old 08-19-2013, 05:46 PM
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SJDrifli SJDrifli is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Cottonwood, AZ
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Wow, sounds amazing. Look forward to some pics.

I am really curious what the **** is between the Bloody and the mountain! Rhymes with????
Thanks, Paul

RoughRider Guide Flies
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:54 PM
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MeLikeFlyFish-FlyFishGood MeLikeFlyFish-FlyFishGood is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,055
Nice pics and report. Those Beaverhead Rainbows are beasty!
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:45 AM
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joe joe is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 2,250
Those state fish of Montana are cutesy!
"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." Chief Seattle

Last edited by joe; 08-20-2013 at 09:50 AM.
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