Im sure we have all seen the pictures and videos of tall pine trees, huge snow topped mountains and rivers so blue that it takes you breath away. Well we are lucky enough to have such things in the beautiful state of Montana. Zach and Marcusdrove 9 hours from Salt Lake City to Kalispell, Montana to meet up with fellow pro staffer Lamont Carter @fly_rod_carter to fish around Glacier National Park on the three forks of the Flathead River.
They started off the trip by meeting up with Lamont and his roommate Alec and driving to middle fork of the Flathead River. They headed east out of Kalispell on MT35 till we came to state road 206 and headed north until we hit highway 2. You will actually cross the south fork of the Flathead at one point and continue on until the road comes next to the river and you’ll be able to see the Middle Fork of the Flathead.
They day started off at Bear Creek inlet to the Middle Fork. There are plenty of signs there that tell you that you can’t fish within 100 yards up or down stream of Bear Creek because that is considered a Bull Trout spawning creek. We worked above the inlet into several amazing looking pools running a dry dropper setup having no luck (partially thinking because it started to pour rain on us) Having several rods set up with a nymphing setup we decided to try fishing a little deeper since it seemed the fish weren’t looking up. We ended up catching several mountain white fish which is great for not getting skunked but not the fish we were after. On this trip we were wanting to target Westslope Cutthroat Trout. Since this river is Glacier fed the river system doesn’t have a large aquatic invertebrate population but we still saw a decent about of stonefly casings on the river rocks. The Cutthroat in this system don’t get much bigger than 14 inches. After catching just whitefish we decided to move down stream some to see what else we can find
We moved downstream close to a boat take out and moved upstream from the boat take out. Trying to find some decent soft water (water that is a bit slower but still has good amounts of oxygen and food). Sure enough we got into more whitefish and started to get a bit discouraged becuase we drove 9 hours to catch a fish that is all over the Weber River in our backyard. Until Boom!!!! Zach ends up hooking into a fish and everyone was feeling like oh great another whitefish until it got close to the net and we started rejoicing. The whitefish were at the back of the run and we discovered the cutthroat were up higher right off the edge of a quick riffle where a small bubble line was barely visable.
Lamont and Alec reverted back to full guide mode (as you can see in the above picture) They were super stoked to help get the Utah boys onto the fish they came up to get. After a couple more fish we drove farther down stream to a place where boats lauch to start a whitewater rafting tour. We were able to park in a small parking lot and walk down the hill to where the rail road tracks are and hit the river from there. Zach and Lamont picked up fish on one side of the river while Alec fished the other side and Marcus started playing with the drone for the YouTube video. All and all each person probably caught close to 10 fish a piece in a 1/2 mile stretch of river.
After hours of wet cold rain and catching feisty cutthroat we decided to call it day. The dry dropper had treated us well of the lower stretch catching whitefish, cutthroat and even one Brooke trout. So we decided to call it a day and grab a pint (except Zach who got a mountian dew) and then head back to the house.
The next day we dedcided to hit the South Fork because there are rainbows in there that seem to get a little bigger than the cutthroat. We stopped at the bridge the crosses the southfork on Highway 2 and fished there for half the day. Fishing the edges of the quicker water picking up whitefish, cutthroat and even a couple cutbows. We moved up right under the bridge where there was a deeeeep pool with a slow current that fish were just stacked in. It was full of Cutthroat and even a really big sucker fish. At lunch we decided that we would leave here and head to the North Fork and see what we could find
So we headed into the small town of Columbia Falls. Turned north of Nucleus Ave until it dead ends into Railroad street. We hung a right and Railroad Street turns into N Fork Rd. which takes you from pavement to dirt and along the North fork of the Flathead. We ended up parking and walking down to the river and we actually were suprised to see two guys on the river with a Tenkara rod. We started fishing and heard a big POP and those guys snapped it in half on a snag. We worked down stream and ended up at a fast riffle going into a deep pool. We found a live Salmon Fly and found the gem of the trip as well. We ended up grabbing a small Bull Trout out of this pool.
It was funny after the Bull Trout we all kinda sat down and relaxed, ate some beef jerky and embraced the mission statement of Roam and Reel. This wasnt about big fish, this wasnt about fish at all. This trip was friends making memories that we will never forget. We sat next to the river and listened to the sound of water rushing by and not another person around us. Thats what Roam and Reel is all about. The people you’re with, the adventure you’re on and the memories you make.