Big Hole / Beaverhead
Big Hole RiverThe Big Hole River is a large freestone river that rises from the small streams and springs in the Upper Big Hole Valley. The river changes character throughout its journey, beginning as a small meadow stream and ending in a large freestone river. The Big Hole can be one of the first major rivers to clear up in the spring and has a great early season stone fly hatch as well as great terrestrial fishing in late summer. Float fishing on the Big Hole River can be excellent although floaters need to pay attention to the dangers of trees blocking the path of the river. The Big Hole is know for its large Cottenwood lined banks and the large braided sections.
Best time to Fish the Big Hole
We like spending time over the hill on the Big Hole during the pre runoff season of April to early May. Great hatches of caddis, mayflies and skwala stoneflies. We also spend a good amount of time on the Big Hole during the yearly salmon fly hatch. This hatch comes off prior to the hatch on the Madison so it is the first place in SW Montana to see the big bugs. The salmon flies are usually the first two weeks of June. It can be busy during this time but the fishing is really good. The third time we like to fish the Big Hold is during the fall. Good fall hatches of mayflies and hoppers keep the fish looking up almost all day long. The river is considerably lower during this period but the fish are still willing to eat dry flies. We always concentrate on the lower half of the river. From Divide to the confluence with the Jefferson River. This has almost 6 different sections to float and fish and has more water during the summer.
The Beaverhead starts high in the Centennial Valley with the confluence of Red Rock Creek and Horse Prairie Creek. It then flows down to Clark Can Reservoir a large lake and dam that changes the character of the river completely. Below Clark Canyon Dam the Beaverhead becomes a classic tailwater river. It holds a huge amount of aquatic insects and trout here grow plentiful and large. In fact it holds the largest concentration of large brown trout per mile than anywhere in Montana. The banks of this narrow tail water are lined with willows and the bottom is often muddy. Casting can be difficult and the flow is swift. Floating is the prefered option. Be careful wade fishing the Beaverhead River as the area is know for its large concentration of Rattlesnakes.
Best Time to Fish the Beaverhead River
We like to concentrate our efforts from the dam of Clark Canyon downstream to Grasshopper Creek. This is a 15 mile section and is considered the prime tailwater section of the river. Trout numbers are extremely high and the concentration of larger brown trout is better than anywhere in Montana. This section is also closed until the second Saturday in May. Once it opens it can be busy but it is worth it. We like June 15-August 1 for the PMD hatch which overlaps with Caddis and small Yellow Sallie stone flies. If you want to catch a large brown on a small dry this might be your time. We also like the end of August for the hoppers, ants and the crane flies. This can be a great time to throw dry flies on the brushy little river.
All Big Hole and Beaverhead trips are run with Matt Greemore Flatline Outfitters #4005, Po Box 475, Twin Bridges, Mt 59754.