Streams Outside of Yellowstone National Park
.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park


Fly Fishing the Blackfoot River - Part Three

In the previous article,  I began writing about our experience on the Blackfoot River
before I completed my description of the river down to its confluence with the Clarke
Fork River. I will pick back up there.

The section of the river I failed to mention is the section from Johnsrud Park
downstream. It flows along highway 200, so accessing the stream is easy. There are
several access sites along the road. The river is as big as it gets in this section. There
are a lot of long, deep pools between riffles. Both rainbows and brown trout are
present. The river is also accessible from its opposite side in the section. Roads are
present along most of the river. The Bonner Dam stops the flow of the river about two
miles upstream from its confluence with the Clarke Fork. You can fish the river below
the dam.

As mentioned yesterday, we found the best fishing in the Blackfoot River Recreational
Corridor. It also provides several excellent campsites. This section is roughly thirty miles
long, so there is plenty of good water to fish. The single biggest disadvantages is that
during the summer, there are a lot of recreational floaters that use the water. I think this
would also be the best part of the river to drift. Although much of the slower water,
upstream of the Corridor, can be floated using small personal pontoon type boats, most
of the river inside the Corridor area would probably require larger boats. There are
several access points along the river inside the corridor and in the last section of the
river above Bonner Dam.  That means there are several options when it comes to
floating the river.

Unfortunately, Angie and I have not floated the Blackfoot. I guess one reason we
haven't is that in our three different trips to the river (during three different years) we
have been able to catch a lot of trout wading the river. That means we have missed the
opportunity to fish several areas of the river, especially those pass through private
ranch property.

I have said little, if anything, about other species in the Blackfoot. It has one of the
largest populations of Bull Trout there are in the United States. West Slope Cutthroat
trout are also present in many areas of the river. I also haven't mentioned the spring
runoff which usually occurs in the month of June. Fishing prior to the runoff can be
good. The river has an early season hatch of Skwala stoneflies that takes place during
March and April. Winter stoneflies (
Nemoura) are also present these two months. In the
slower sections of the river there is usually a good hatch of Gray Drakes during April.
As with most all the streams in the area,
baetis mayflies (Blue-winged Olives) hatch
during March, April and May.

The river has a good Salmonfly hatch but it may occur during the spring runoff period.
Green Drake mayflies hatch in June and are subject to hatching when the runoff is in
progress. Both of these two hatches depend greatly on the size and timing of the runoff.
Golden Stoneflies hatch during July and August along with the always reliable "PMD"s
or Pale Morning duns. August and September is Trico time. These little mayflies can
hatch in large quantities in the slower sections of the river. The last mayfly hatch is the
Mahogany. It usually occurs in September and October along with the second hatch of
Blue-winged Olives. Several species of caddisflies are present - the Spotted Sedge
being the most plentiful. Don't overlook terrestrial during the summer. If you want to
catch some big trout, don't overlook streamers. The river has a good population of

                                                                                                    Copyright 2009 James Marsh
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