Thompson River

Note: Thompson River Road follows the river and intersects with Highway 2 in route to Libby or Kalispell.

The Thompson River flows from the Thompson Lake chain to the Clark Fork River. Considered one of the best streams in the area, the Thompson River is pounded by catch-and-eat fishermen who have easy access to the river along Thompson River Road #56 and the private logging road on the east side of the river. Road #56 parallels the river for almost 40 miles. If you plan on camping and fishing, Copper King Campground (USFS) offers a nice campground right on the river four miles from the junction with Highway 200. Offering five sites, the campground has no drinking water. Above the campground the road begins a single-lane dirt and gravel road with a number of intersecting logging roads. The Thompson River is worth the dusty ride, as the stream and road wind up through wooded mountainsides and canyons to the meadow section.

A free-flowing stream, the Thompson River produces healthy populations of 10- to 12-inch rainbows, along with some hefty browns and bull trout in the lower section. Small cutthroats and brook trout are the staple in the upper river. In an effort to improve the size of Thompson River trout, new regulations require release of all trout fro 10" to 18-inches. With the recent decline in timber harvest in the area, coupled with the slot restrictions, the Thompson River will steadily improve.

The Thompson River kicks off in the spring with a healthy Salmon Fly hatch and an abundance of Grannom caddis. Late summer brings out the hoppers, drakes and Baetis hatches all the way into the fall. The Thompson is just fun to fish. For the most part, fly fishers need only present an attractor pattern on a short cast to hungry trout!

The river is easily fished with lightweight spinning rods and fly rods.

It offers a little bit of everyone's favorite type of water, from small riffles and pools to long glides and deep pockets in the canyon section. During late summer and early fall, large stonefly nymphs such as the Bitch Creek and Woolly Buggers are the choice patterns of fly fishers searching for the early browns heading up from the Clark Fork to spawn.

River description by David Archer