Clark Fork River Description
Just the Facts:
This major fork of the Columbia River, named after Captain William Clark of the Corps of Discovery, is the mother of all our local rivers. In proving her maternal resolve, the Clark Fork today flows clean and vibrant despite the decades of mining abuses imposed upon her by a less than conservation-minded state. Often described locally as two distinct rivers, the Clark Fork provides decidedly different characteristics on its upper and lower reaches. In the snaking meanders upstream of Missoula, butter-bellied browns explode on baitfish darting from deadfall snags and hoppers haplessly bumping along grassy undercuts. Following her confluence of the Blackfoot and Bitterroot, the Clark Fork through and below town widens and slows. This is the ultimate for anglers hunting line-ripping rainbows and cutthroats on light tippets. Here, the biggest fish sip little duns and chase swimming nymphs around over knee-deep gravel bars. No matter your passion – #20 trico spinners delicately placed in rise ring lanes, dangling a needle-thin phez tail under a big bushy hoppers, or chuck'n and duck'n zonkers – the Clark Fork offers a season and section for you.
Typical catch – On the upper river are browns from 10"-20" with fewer bows and cuts and rarely over 16". The lower rainbows average 14"-18" and cutthroats of similar size with the occasional 18"+ brown. We look for at least a dozen opportunities per rod/per day.
Total area of drainage – Nearly 11,000 square miles, and that's before you add another 10,000 from the Flathead River drainage.
Total river miles we guide – Total just over 200, but primarily 150.
Travel distances from Missoula – 5 minutes to 1 ½ hours, average under 35 minutes.
Type of trips available – Floatfish, wading, float/wade combos, whitewater, whitewater/fishing combos, overnights up to 5 days.
Bank-side accommodations – The Double Tree Hotel in Missoula, tent camps, (and we’re working on others.)
Primary style of fishing – The Clark below Missoula consists of matching the hatch with little dries when conditions warrant and searching with big parachutes and droppers in the down time. Above town attractor dries go on first but streamers under the clouds can be great!
View Clark Fork River Video
BRO's "Top Five" patterns:
#8 tan parachute hoppers
Royal bar-flies of the same size
beadhead size 16 pheasant tail nymphs
Grey quiggley cripple in #16
Parachute adams in #16