Sun River Little Brown Trout
Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Sun River in Montana
The Sun River is one of the many Montana trout
streams that goes almost unnoticed by visitors, simply
because the state has so many trout streams. It isn't a
little stream. It is over a hundred miles long, and about
70 miles of it has a population of trout. The Sun River is
a tributary of the Missouri River. Fly fishing the Sun
River at the right times of the year can provide some
excellent opportunities.

The biggest advantage of fishing the Sun River is the
lack of competition. Its usually only fished by a few
locals. The biggest disadvantage is the fact the water is
used for irrigation and as a result, the flows can vary
greatly depending on the time of the year.

The Sun River headwaters begin in the Bob Marshall
Wilderness from the confluence of the North Fork Sun
River and the South Fork  Sun River. Each of these
forks have good fishing but both do require hiking into.
There are plenty of wild rainbows, brook and cutthroat
trout available that are rarely fished for.

About five miles below the confluence of the two
headwater streams, the main stream enters the Gibson
Reservoir. Fishing is great above the reservoir but
hiking is required to reach its seldom fished waters.

Below the Gibson Reservoir, the water flows through the
Sun River Canyon that is also very difficult to access.
Hiking is required to reach its waters and fishing it from a
boat can be dangerous. Those that go to the effort to
fish it are usually well rewarded. It contains a good
population of rainbows, brown and cutthroat trout. Its
water can be quite deep and difficult to wade (if not
impossible) in many places.

Below the Sun River Canyon, access becomes easier
and so does the fishing. The river slows down some and
consist of more riffles, long pools and runs with water
than is wadable in most areas. Fishing can be good in
this area and the fish, although probably not as plentiful,
are on the average larger. There is about 25 miles of
water below Gibson Reservoir that can be fished before
the river enters Willow Creek Reservoir near the town of

Below Willow Creek Reservoir, the trout fishing becomes
more limited and consist mostly of brown trout. Although
Angie and I( have done well the couple of times we have
fished this section, it doesn't compare to the fishing
below Gibson Reservoir. It is much easier to access.

Fly fishing the Sun River falls under the Montana
general trout season regulations.
Springtime is a good time after the runoff has little effect
on it. Hatches are very plentiful.
Summertime is a good time to fish the river.
Early Fall can also provide some good fly fishing
opportunities, especially for the brown trout.

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Trout Flies
Type of Stream
Freestone and 2 Tailwaters

Rainbow Trout
Cutthroat Trout
Brown Trout
Brook Trout

Small to Medium

Central Montana

Nearest Towns

3rd Sat. May - Nov 30th

Access is good

Non-Resident License
State of Montana

National Weather Service Link

USGS Stream Flow Data:
Near Vaughn

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and
Trout Flies
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The trout in the upper sections of the Sun River are not usually
large, although some exist. This one is a little smaller than the
average size rainbow.
Sun River Montana
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Priority Mail.