It’s difficult to label any single river the best and admittedly, Montana has a large number of excellent fisheries. Dillon is unique however because the town itself is central to multiple rivers, each offering something completely different. You will also find regulatory controls that prevent overcrowded from commercial outfitters.
Our Season is Long
You can find fishing opportunities nearly year-round but December through February are often quite cold. The spring season does however gain traction in February many years and March kicks off great opportunities on the Big Hole. The Beaverhead also has spring influence that helps stabilize water temperatures throughout the entire year. The section directly below the dam does not open until the third Saturday in May but that still leaves a ton of productive water to walk or float.
The Jefferson River is also an often overlooked option and it flows through a more temperate valley, making it ideal for early and late season trips. The primary fisheries are no secret but the area is also loaded with lakes, smaller rivers and streams that are productive waters with opportunities for trophy trout. A good 9-10 months offer fantastic fishing and those off months still have opportunity for those who time the weather right.
Fishing Pressure is Mitigated
Many of the famous Montana fly fishing rivers are overcrowded, especially during big hatch events. Take a trip to the Madison River during salmonfly season and you will find long lines of boats waiting to launch. The Beaverhead and Big Hole rivers are permitted and this controls the pressure from outfitters. Outfitters must stagger launch sites, ensuring each boat ramp has a limited amount of commercial traffic. The system is effective and it spreads out the pressure, creating a better experience for everyone.
High Trout Populations
The combination of high fish counts and size quality is simply unmatched on the Beaverhead. This river is so healthy, anglers are encouraged to keep a limit of brown trout as a means of controlling high fish populations while ensuring size quality remains intact. The Big Hole is also a very healthy system where anglers experience no shortage of opportunity. As a freestone, the size range is broad and big number days happen frequently. Expect everything from 12-inch brown trout to those running over 20-inches. Brown trout over 24-inches are caught here every year as well.
Local Fish Culture
Dillon is a trout town and it’s not uncommon to see folks grabbing gas in waders and stringing up rods in hotel parking lots. The town has an eclectic mix of anglers, hunters, cowboys and cowgirls and locals who enjoy the scenic surroundings. While fishing is central to the community, you might find yourself at a rodeo, a brewery, a concert or an antique shop on any given day. Swapping fish stories over a cold beer is the norm after a long day on the water. There is nothing pretentious about this place and that gives it a special charm.