Remote fly fishing river
High up in the Castle Mountains of central Montana, the Smith River begins at the confluence of the North and South Fork Smith River near White Sulphur Springs. Flanked by the tall peaks of the Big Belt Mountains and Little Belt Mountains, the river meanders wildly for more than 100 miles through remote and scenic landscapes before flowing into the Missouri River near Ulm, Montana. This freestone river offers great scenery and at times very good dry fly fishing.
Smith River Wildlife
Wildlife is abundant throughout the river’s corridor. Nesting waterfowl patrol the banks of the river, while migratory songbirds search the brush and sky for an unsuspecting stonefly. Deer and elk are also sometimes seen near the banks of the Smith.
Fly Fishing the Smith River
The Smith River has one public put-in point (Camp Baker) and one take-out point (Eden Bridge), creating a 59-mile stretch of pristine floating. This unique inaccessibility allows Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to greatly regulate the use of the river, as permits are mandatory. The narrow Smith River drops over 1000 feet in elevation over the 59-mile stretch, twisting and turning through gentle rolling meadows and grasslands into beautiful canyons with towering rock walls surrounded by forested hills and ending in wide-open Montana prairie.
Smith River Fishing Tips
The character of the river is quite diverse, including wide riffles and pools, shallow flats, deep under-cut cliff walls and quiet backwaters. This character creates a healthy variety of trout habitat. And since the Smith River is a natural freestone river, as opposed to a tailwater, the insect populations are as diverse as the river itself, including everything from the tiniest trico mayfly to the substantial salmon fly stonefly.
Fish Types in the Smith River
The Smith River is an excellent river for both brown trout and rainbow trout. While the Smith does not hold a significant amount of large fish, it does have many trout between 13-17 inches. And what it lacks in very large trout, the Smith River makes up in relative ease of catching trout; for instance, 20 to 30 trout released in a day is not uncommon. However, for many anglers dry fly fishing the Smith, the fishing comes second to the river’s overall atmosphere and beauty.