Big Hole River, Montana
Fishing the Big Hole River
The Big Hole River, often referred to as the ‘Last Best River‘, begins at Skinner Lake, high in the Beaverhead Mountains of Southwest Montana. This free flowing, Blue Ribbon Trout Stream is home to fluvial Arctic Grayling, Cutthroats, Brook Trout, Mountain Whitefish, Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout. Wild and free, the Big Hole River rises near the small town of Jackson, Montana and flows more than 150 miles to join the Ruby and the Beaverhead River to form the Jefferson River in Twin Bridges, Montana. From our location, its easy to sample some of the best Montana fishing.
River at the Silver Bow Club
The Silver Bow Club boasts 3.5 miles of riverfront on the Big Hole River in the Canyon Stretch. Located approximately 50 river miles from the confluence of the Jefferson, the Silver Bow Club sits on the best stretch of river in terms of fish size and population. Our guests are encouraged to access the river by crossing the hay meadows and access the numerous pools, riffles and runs. Our golf cart path winds along a portion of the river for easy access to several of our favorite pools. Only during spring run-off is the river too high to wade comfortably. For those who prefer to float, the Big Hole River offers numerous boat launches. Just upstream from the Silver Bow Club is the Divide Bridge access. Here you’ll find an easy boat launch and picnic area. Downstream, is the Maiden Rock Fishing Access. Float the beautiful canyon for some of the best fly fishing the Big Hole River has to offer.
The Big Hole River begins high in the Beaverhead Mountains. Surrounded by peaks that reach above 10,000 feet, the river flows from Skinner Lake at an elevation of 7,340. The infant river and its tributaries are home to brook trout, arctic grayling and the occasional cutthroat. The river travels through ranch land and access is limited to bridge crossing. Fish the river upstream or down from bridge crossing while staying below the high water mark. Banks are often lined with low willows. Moose are often seen in the upper river to and downstream to the North Fork.
Mudd Creek to Wise River
The river remains very wade-able in the stretch of river between the Mudd Creek Fishing Access through the Sportsman’s Park Access. Caddis hatch late April through May. Grayling in the section can be on the larger size, up to 15 inches. Brook trout are still found within the river system but as you go further downstream, rainbow and browns join the mix. Floating the river is a great way to access the riffles, runs, pockets and glides. In early season before the hatches begin, stripping streamers off the banks yields hungry brookies, browns, and rainbows.
Wise River to Melrose – The Canyon Stretch
Perhaps the most written about and regaled section of the Big Hole River is the Canyon Stretch. At the confluence of the Wise River, a cold mountain stream, is the small town of Wise River, Montana. A great place to grab some snacks or a cold beer, floating through Wise River is a great bet. Here the river is wider and deeper. Cliffs and craggy rock formations curve the river and often form deep pools. Rainbow and browns are the predominate catch in this faster moving stretch. In Dewey, access the river in numerous places as the river hugs the road in many places. In Divide the river flattens and slows slightly. The access at the Divide Bridge offers picnicking and shade. From here, drift downstream just a short distance before seeing the northern hay fields of the Silver Bow Club. The river is tree-lined as it passes through the ranch. Pull the boat over for a leisurely stream side lunch. Downstream from the ranch the craggy cliffs of Maiden Rock Canyon rise from the valley floor. The foothills of the Pioneer Mountains, the rugged beauty of the Maiden Rock Canyon is not to be missed. Look for bighorn sheep along the cliffs as you float through.
Melrose to Twin Bridges
Dry fly fishing in this section of the Big Hole River really heats up in summer. Casting a hopper at the bank beginning in July can keep an angler busy! Perhaps the best river to fly fish in Montana, the Big Hole River is home to big brown trout in the lower sections. The lower 39 river miles flows through the towns of Melrose, Glen and Twin Bridges. Target covered or shady areas in search of brown trout. There are numerous boat launches in this stretch. While tree lined, the river flows through open land on its journey to form the Jefferson.
Perhaps the most famous Big Hole River hatch is the Mother’s Day Caddis. Hard to predict, the blitz of caddis appear during run-off in May. Otherwise, caddis hatch can be expected from April through July. The Salmonfly hatch occurs in June followed by the Golden Stones. Pale Morning Duns, Trico, Grasshoppers, and baetis are all important hatches. For more on Big Hole River hatches, see our hatch chart.