Beaverhead River Montana Fly Fishing

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Beaverhead River

The Beaverhead River's interesting namesake originates from the Shoshone name for a 380ft tall rock formation half-way between Dillon and Twin Bridges; the Shoshones believed this rock resembled a swimming beaver's head in the water. In 1805, Sacajawea used Beaverhead rock to help The Lewis and Clark Expedition navigate their way to Camp Fortunate and eventually the Pacific.

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  • Named after the historic rock formation Sacajawea used to navigate Lewis and Clark during their 1805 expedition.
  • Incredibly rich with aquatic biomass and in its upper reaches boasts one of the densest fish populations in Montana.
  • The best way to access the Beaverhead is by floating.

Where is the Beaverhead River?

The Beaverhead River starts at Clark Canyon Dam, 20 miles south of Dillon in southwestern Montana. Its headwaters are the Red Rock River which flow out of Lillian Lake in the Centennial Mountains and Horse Prairie Creek from the Beaverhead Mountains, which then flow into the Clark Canyon Reservoir. The Beaverhead is joined along the way by Grasshopper Creek, Poindexter Slough, Blacktail Creek and several springs. Winding 69 miles through a wide valley of mostly large hay fields and cattle pastures, it meets the Ruby and the Big Hole River to form the Jefferson River near the town of Twin Bridges, Montana.

What can I do and see along the Beaverhead River?

The Beaverhead River is a classic western tail-water, characterized by fast riffles, tight corners, and short deep pools.

  • Season: To the delight of anglers, the Beaverhead River is not susceptible to typical spring run-off conditions. It is unlike many area rivers in the spring, staying clear even when flows are high.
  • Flies: The Beaverhead River is incredibly rich with aquatic biomass in its upper reaches and boasts one of the densest fish populations in Montana. Good to excellent presentations are a must here. Nymphing with small hatch-matching patterns is the predominant technique in the upper reaches. Try a Pheasant Tail or Hare's Ear's in tandem with a Prince Nymph or Caddis Larva. PMD's and Yellow Sallie's in late June and July, evening Caddis all summer and Trico's in August make for some memorable dry fly fishing. Streamer's like Yuk Bugs and Wooly Buggers stripped fast along the willow lined cut banks will trigger aggressive strikes from large pre-spawn brown's in the fall.
  • Although there are several fishing access points between the dam's Spillway and Barrett's Park Campground that can be accessed by foot, the best way to fish the Beaverhead is by floating.

The Beaverhead River is listed as a Class I river, but floaters need to be aware of its navigational hazard's such as the diversion at High Bridge and Barrett's Park Campground(take-out-only).

There are a handful of places to camp next to the water's edge.

  • Armstead Campground: Call 406-683-4199
  • Dillon KOA: Call 406-683-2749
  • Beaverhead Campground: Call 406-683-6472
  • Barrett's Park Campground: Call 406-683-6472