Fishing Montana's South Fork of the Flathead

Jul 22, 2010
Outside Magazine
South Fork of the Flathead

South Fork of the Flathead    Photo: Ian Van Coller

Think of the South Fork of the Flathead as a little slice of Alaska tucked into Montana's northwestern corner: a spectacularly remote river that happens to offer some of the best, easiest dry-fly fishing in the world. Guests horsepack in for two days through the grizzly-rich Bob Marshall Wilderness to the put-in, then float 30 miles of Class II and III water in four days. On the way, you'll camp on the riverside and catch as many wild, native west–slope cutthroats as you wish, as well as a few bull trout. (The South Fork is one of the few places where targeting the threatened, 30-inch beasts is legal.) Go with the guides at Spotted Bear Ranch, near the takeout at Meadow Creek Gorge—they offer a post-float hot shower and cookout at the lodge. $4,600;