Best Fishing Spots in Missoula, MT

Missoula, Montana, is renowned as a top destination to enjoy the wilderness and outdoor pursuits. Whether you’re visiting here on vacation or you live nearby, one of the favored pastimes to get involved in is fishing. There’s no shortage of popular spots around here to choose from. Luckily, most of them offer enough space so that you can spread out and find your own peaceful spot, even if a large number of anglers are out and about. Here are a few ideas for you to try compiled by our local experts at Bretz RV & Marine.

Bitterroot River

Bitterroot River has many easy access roads along its length, making it a good choice for getting started. The river is popular with boats, but there are some tricks you can follow to avoid them as a wader. For instance, get to an access point early and head upstream, then return to the access point by lunchtime and head downstream.

This river is host to several types of fish, including brown trout and rainbows. Many parts are also suitable for wading.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is a great destination for you to get started in the local area. It’s easy to access thanks to the proximity of Rock Creek Road, which runs alongside the creek for approximately 50 miles. Along the road, you’ll find plenty of access points to start your fishing expedition.

In Montana, you can move up and down the river below the high water mark as far as you like, so long as you have gained access via a public route. This law helps make Rock Creek an attractive destination, especially if you’re an angler looking for an easy place to get started.

The creek is full of cutthroat, brown trout, and rainbows, giving you an exciting selection of fish to look out for. Wading conditions are also favorable, making it relatively simple for you to get out into the water for fly fishing. If you’d also like to enjoy a bit of wildlife during your fishing trip, you’re likely to catch a glimpse of moose, deer, and sheep when you visit Rock Creek.

Clark Fork River Through Town

The Clark Fork River is the biggest in western Montana, and it gives you plenty of fishing options to choose from along its length. One of the easiest access points for the river is where it flows through downtown Missoula. While many fishing enthusiasts overlook this location because of its urban setting, it’s a great spot for catching large trout and other fish. What’s more, you can take a break at one of the restaurants or breweries located nearby for a bite to eat or a refreshment. The Clark Fork River also offers many out-of-town public access points.

One word of caution for waders is that the Clark Fork River west of town is best avoided. The river here has steep banks and fast-moving water approximately 6 feet from the banks. These conditions make it a difficult proposition to wade safely. If you want to try fishing in this part of the river, your best option would be to take a boat, which opens up significantly more possibilities. If you prefer to stick to wading, you may want to check out some of our other local recommendations.

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot River is probably the most iconic fishing spot in Missoula, thanks above all to its appearance in the movie “A River Runs Through It.” The Blackfoot is also a top destination to catch brown trout and rainbow, provided you take some precautions when planning your trip.

One of the first things you should be aware of is that many parts of the river are extremely challenging to wade in. That’s because there are large boulders, and the water is fast-moving. The Blackfoot drops approximately 3,000 feet from its highest point to the place where it enters the Clark Fork River, which helps explain the strong currents.

However, it’s not all bad news. You’ll find great places further upstream for wading, as well as some areas near Lincoln. You could also take a guided fishing trip on a boat or raft, which gives you the opportunity to float safely downstream.

The best time for fishing in this river is in the summer, when the supply of fish is plentiful and the runoff from the spring melt has passed. Whenever you visit, the unique setting, healthy selection of fish, and beauty of the local landscape are sure to help you have an enjoyable fishing trip for a few hours or an entire day.

Tips for Getting Started

If you’re new to the area or just haven’t done much angling before, there are several local fishing stores you can consult for help. They’ll be more than happy to share some tricks of the trade and give you tips on the best spots to try out. You’ll also find everything you could need for a good fishing trip, including flies, rods, and other gear. Clothing for wading, and protecting yourself from the rain or sunshine is also available.

If you’d like to rely on the expertise of a guide during your trip, there’s a variety of guided fishing trip options available in Missoula and the surrounding area. These offerings include a boat trip on one of the local rivers or a guided tour to some choice spots where you can fish from the bank.

A further point to keep in mind is that the rivers around Missoula we’ve identified all feature numerous access points by public road. As a result, you should be able to find a spot that’s quiet and concealed from other anglers, even if you decide to try one of the most popular areas. Keep in mind, however, that the access roads will often require a sturdy vehicle to navigate, especially if you’re towing your own boat at the rear.

Let Us Know About Your Fishing Trip in Missoula

So, there you have it. Our local experts here at Bretz RV & Marine have picked out some great fishing spots and provided some helpful tips to get you started. Did we mention your favorite place for fly fishing? Perhaps you’ve already fished the Blackfoot River or Rock Creek and would like to share your experience with us. Feel free to contact our team today with your stories and tips, and we’ll be sure to share them in one of our future blogs about the great city of Missoula, Montana.

Blackfoot River in Missoula, Montana” by Bureau of Land Management Licensed under CC BY 2.0

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