The Smith River canyon is Montana’s most beautiful backcountry trout river. This small, spring fed river has excellent hatches, including Stoneflies, Brown Drakes, PMD’s, Caddis, and Tricos, but the nature of the water also favors attractor patterns and terrestrials. It is ideal water for the beginners to catch trout. The fish run up to 26″, with 12-18″ trout being numerous and common. This is an excellent family trip also, with lots to see and do for the non-fishing parties along this scenic canyon waterway.
Join us this year on Montana’s ultimate “get away from it all” fishing expedition! Our 4-7 day float/camp trips give you plenty of time to fish, relax and explore 60 miles of extraordinary trout stream in style. Our camps are very comfortable, with many luxuries and the riverside fare is superb. With a permit system in place, it’s important to reserve your Smith River dates early.
Smith River Itinerary
If you are flying into Great Falls International Airport, the hotel will pick you up at the airport and take you to your lodging. (NOTE: We can make both your airline and hotel reservations to provide you with a trouble free vacation.) There are some noteworthy sights in Great Falls, especially the C. M. Russell Studio and Museum, one of the finest western art museums in the country. Also plan to see the Great Falls of the Missouri themselves, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, and other historical sites of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. You may also want to fish the Missouri River a day or two before or after your Smith River trip. The Missouri, a rich tail water fishery, provides an interesting contrast to the Smith’s freestone nature, and it is definitely worth fishing while in the area.
We like to get going about 7:30 a.m. on the morning of your trip. We will meet you after breakfast, load your personal gear, and get on the road by 7:45 a.m.. If you arrived late the night before and didn’t have time to get flies or other needs, the trip leader will arrange to bring what you need.
We have a 2 1/2 hour scenic drive over the Little Belt Mountains on the way to our put-in at Camp Baker. A variety of wildlife may be sighted on the drive including: Whitetail and Mule Deer, Antelope, and Elk. We can stop briefly in White Sulpher Springs for last minute needs.
After arriving at our put-in site, it will take the guides roughly an hour to load the rafts. During this time you will load your soft luggage into our waterproof bags and get setup for fishing. The cargo boat will go ahead to set up camp before the fishing boats get there. The fishing boats take off around 11:30 a.m. on this day. (Each boat will have a cooler on board for snacks and drinks.) We generally float a few miles before lunch. After a hearty lunch served by the guides, we float and wade our way down the river to our camp site, arriving at 5:00-6:00 p.m. each night. Appetizers, cold drinks, chairs, tables, and tents will be ready when you arrive. A delicious riverside dinner will follow shortly. The wade fishing is good around all the camps, and, if you are interested, the guides can point you toward the best spots to wade fish until dark.
Mornings find the campfire burning, coffee on, and a great breakfast on the way. All of our meals are prepared from a wide variety of fresh foods. (Be sure to let us know if you have any special dietary or medical needs.) To maximize your fishing time on the river, the fishing boats try to leave around 8:00 a.m.. This allows more time to stop and wade fish the best spots. Of course, we can accommodate late sleepers, too.
As we drift through the canyon the scenery gets more spectacular and the fish bigger. Mink, beaver, golden eagles, mule deer, black bear, moose and even elk are frequently sighted as we traverse this unique waterway. The lower half of the canyon has the least amount of human intrusion and the largest trout. The Browns, Rainbow, Cutthroat, and Brook Trout will average 10″-16″, with specimens to 24″ taken, mostly on dry flies. Catches of 25 or more fish per day per person are not uncommon for a skilled angler.
Our last day finds us winding out of the forested canyon into an interesting landscape of big coulees, rock outcroppings, and high rolling plains. The trout in this area are fewer, but tend to be the largest of all. As this is a long day mileage wise, we try to get an earlier than usual start. We arrive at Eden Bridge, our take-out point, between 4:00-5:00 p.m.. It takes about an hour to load up all the equipment in the vans and trailers. From there, it is a 45 minute drive to Great Falls and your lodging.