in Southwest Montana's
Fishing the Beaverhead River
The Beaverhead River is located in Southwestern Montana, is well known for its abundance of large trout. Brown Trout average nearly 18 inches while Rainbow Trout also weigh in at an impressive size. Twenty plus inch fish are not uncommon for the Beaverhead. It is a narrow brushy tailwater fishery not to be overlooked because of its small size. The water stays cool all season long in its upper reaches with the help of Clark Canyon Reservoir and its tailwater dam. The trout are enormous, beautiful, and "reel-screaming" strong.
The Beaverhead flows for over fifty miles before joining the Big Hole River to form the Jefferson River by Twin Bridges. There are a few Special
Regulations on the river.
The upper portion of the Beaverhead from the reservoir to Barretts Diversion Dam (approximately 12 miles) is the most popular section of river. It is also
the coldest portion of the river because it is closest to the cold outflow from Clark Canyon Dam. Large Rainbows flourish up here along with an over
abundance of big Browns. The river is tight and wanders through a series of sharp curves making it semi-difficult to drift. Overhanging thick willows and
cottenwoods make casting to the banks hard as well. Heavy tippets to get your flies out of the brush and keep your big trout out of the heavy weed bottom
is the norm.
Wading the upper river in most areas is difficult because of the brushy steep banks and deep hard pushing flows. Floating is the easiest and most
productive way to fish this section. Route 15 follows the upper river from Clark Canyon Dam past Barretts Diversion Dam to the town of Dillon. Route 15
turns north towards Melrose and the Big Hole River at the town of Dillon.
Barretts Diversion Dam takes a significant amount of flow away from the lower Beaverhead for irrigation purposes. From the diversion dam to Dillon the
river tends to warm faster with the increased distance from the cold outflow at Clark Canyon Dam and the smaller amount of water flow although it does
hold a good number of quality Brown Trout and some Rainbow Trout. Wade fishing the lower section of river is much easier and does attract more
anglers who choose not to float.
Down river from Dillon the Beaverhead is not as productive, although it does hold a decent number of trout. The river below Dillon is followed by Route
41 all the way to Twin Bridges where it meets the Big Hole River.
Hatches on the Beaverhead include Blue-Winged Olives, Pale Morning Duns, Caddis, Stoneflies, and Craneflies. The Stoneflies that hatch include large
golden stones and small yellow sallies. Caddis can come in a variety of colors although tan seems to be the most predominant.
Dry fly fishing can be challenging sometimes and at other times seem "brainless". Nymphs and streamers are also extremely effective on the river.
If you're planning a trip to the Beaverhead or surrounding area, Bozeman and Butte offer the closest commercial flights. Dillon is the main town on the
Beaverhead although surrounding towns serve access to the area. It is a beautiful part of the state with a lot of wildlife. Seeing moose and other animals
is always a possibility. Fly fishing on the picturesque Beaverhead River is top notch that many anglers come back to experience year after year.