Montana Creeks

David Archer on November 11, 2010 4:43 PM | Comments

Pick a creek between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park and ready yourself for more fishing than you can possibly imagine.  Between the two parks, this site divides into six sections: Northwest, Western, Rocky Mountain Front, Upper Missouri River, Southwestern and the Yellowstone River Drainage. Below is a partial list of popular fishing creeks in Montana separated by region.  Those creeks that are not linked are work in progress.

Note of Enthusiasm: It is unfortunate when such a great resources goes begging because anglers want to catch the big ones.  So many Montana creeks offer wonderful canyon beauty with an abundance of small trout that love to grab a dry fly by mid-summer.  How dare you call them dinks!  These are tough, mature trout whose size is a product of a tough environment for growing.  If you hit a hot day in August when the river fishing is slow, head for the mountains where you will catch dozens of beautiful rainbows, brooks and cutthroats.  Have some fun!

Montana's Popular Fishing Creeks by Region

Northwestern Montana


map_region_NW.gifWe will begin in the Northwest corner of the state working eastward to the Rocky Mountain Front and than southwards towards Missoula, Montana, as mapped in the Montana Atlas & Gazetteer. Sections 81, 82,83; 80,66,67.

Unlike western Montana with its abundance of creeks, especially in the Bitterroot Valley, the northwestern region has a scattering of creeks, and the distances between them are immense.  I have included material in which I have combined creeks and lakes.  Some of the creeks are very small, and I overlooked them years ago when I was researching material for my book.  I plan on returning to this section during the 2011fishing season.  For a creek-size river, visit Thompson River, which is close to Thompson Falls and not too far from Kalispell.



Western Montana

map_region_western.gifWe will begin at the western edge of the state at St. Regis and move eastward to Missoula and then northeast to Lincoln, and then cover the area south of Missoula, the Bitterroot Valley, as mapped in the Montana Atlas & Gazetteer. Sections 52,53,54; 37,38.)


Bitterroot Valley Creeks and Lakes

Western Montana, especially the Bitterroot River Valley, hosts dozens of fine little mountain creeks where the entire family can catch cutthroats, rainbows and an occasional brookie.  Keep in mind, however, that you have to scramble down talus slides, skinny over downed trees and get down on your knees to drop a dry fly in a boulder-rimmed pocket.  Both the East Fork and the West Fork of the Bitterroot River are more aptly described as creek water in the headwaters.  Due to the number of creeks in the valley, I have included both creeks and lakes. 

Little Rock Creek (Darby, Montana.  Como Lake)

Fish Creek (A tributary Creek of the Clark Fork 35 miles west of Missoula on Exit 66 of Interstate 90)

Rock Creek

Note:  Although they are not creeks, I have included forks of rivers, such as the North Fork of the Blackfoot River, because it offers smaller water and no float traffic.

Blackfoot River Creeks


Rocky Mountain Front


map_region_rocky.gifThe Rocky Mountain Front stunned the Lewis and Clark Expedition with its looming peaks thrusting up from the plains.  Beginning along the eastern boundary of Glacier National Park southwards to Great Falls and Helena, this is a huge area.  See maps in the Montana Atlas & Gazetteer Sections 84, 69, 56, 40.





Upper Missouri River Drainage


map_region_missouri.gifEssentially, this section covers the creeks for the Missouri River from its headwaters at Three Forks north to Townsend, Montana and than northward to Helena, Montana, capital of Montana. 





Southwestern Montana


map_region_southwestern.gifFrom West to East, we will first cover the Phillipsburg to Anaconda area and the area south, which covers the Big Hole River and the Wise River near the communities of Wisdom.  From here we will move eastward below Butte to cover the Twin Bridges area.  Twin Bridges, Montana is the beginning of the Jefferson River, which is formed by the Beaverhead River, the Wise River and the Ruby River.  The Jefferson River heads north and than eastward to Three Forks, Montana.  It is at Three Forks, Montana that the Missouri River is formed from the Jefferson River, the Madison River and the Gallatin River to finish the Southwestern Montana section.  See maps in the Montana Atlas & Gazetteer Sections 38, 39, 40; 24, 25, 26.



Yellowstone River Drainage


yrd-map-revised.jpgThe Yellowstone River leads north out of Yellowstone National Park to Livingston, Montana. From Livingston it heads due East to Billings.  This area holds some delightful creeks, although not as abundant as the Bitterroot Valley.