Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Dearborn River Montana
The Dearborn River is 70 mile long tributary of the
Missouri River. It originates in the Lewis and Clark
National Forest near Scapegoat Mountain in the Lewis
and Clark Range of the Rocky Mountains. It terminates
in the Missouri River near Craig, Montana. Fly fishing
the Dearborn River is probably not as popular as its
The upper part of the Dearborn River flows through
mountainous terrain. This section that's approximately
twenty-twp miles long must be accessed on foot or by
horseback. A good trail follows along the river. Like most
of Montana's freestone stream's headwaters, most of
the trout are on the small side and consist mostly of
rainbows and cutthroats.
When the river flows out of the mountains into the
prairie, the declination becomes much lower and the flow
of the river slows down. There are still a few plunges
and whitewater areas for the first few miles. The lower
river contains mostly rainbows and brown trout but there
are a few cutthroats.
Downstream of highway #434, the river flows mostly
through private property. There are a few access points
along the river but they are very limited. This lower part
of the stream is best fished from a drift boat. The best
section to float is downstream of the highway #200
bridge, or the public access on highway #434. You
should also keep in mind that the river can get low in the
summer months and larger size boats may have a tough
time getting through certain areas.
The Dearborn River's close proximity to the more
popular Missouri River keeps most visiting anglers away
from its waters. It deserves more attention than it gets
but I'm sure most locals just as soon it stays that way.
Fly fishing the Dearborn River can be good any day of
Springtime is the best time for fly fishing the Dearborn
River due to plentiful hatches and higher water levels.
The water stays cool enough during the Summer, but it
can get low in areas making fishing tougher than normal.
Early Fall is an excellent time to fish the Dearborn River.
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