The Beaverhead River is undoubtedly one of the finest trophy trout rivers in Montana, if not the entire Lower 48. Beginning at the outflow of Clark Canyon Dam, located 20 miles south of Dillon, the Beaverhead River flows north for 60 miles, right through Dillon, and towards the confluence with the Ruby and Big Hole River just downstream of the town of Twin Bridges. A tailwater fishery with a rich Spring Creek influence, the Beaverhead's prolific hatches of caddisflies, mayflies, little Yellow Sallies, midges, and craneflies create a tremendous food source and a very special fishery for exceptionally large trout.
As our summer
season progresses, fish will also be found feeding on a host of terrestrials. And when it comes to fishing for cannibalistic, wild trout, the Beaverhead's inhabitants are more than happy to choke down a mouse, small fish, crayfish, or as one of our guides saw, a snake. Wading anglers beware!
In March, prolific hatches of blue wing olives and midges kick off our dry fly fishing, followed by the famous Mothers Day Caddis hatch, somewhere around the end of April or first of May. Sometime shortly after the 20th of June, the PMDs (pale morning duns) will appear. In short succession, hatches of little Yellow Sallies and numerous different species of caddis stay strong throughout the month of July. These three major hatches - PMDs, Yellow Sallies, and Caddis - will continue for most of the summer season with varying degrees of intensity. On most years you'll see PMD's and little Yellow Sallies last clear into the first week of September, with larger and larger Caddis becoming more prevalent in mid-September. During the first week of August, we start to see Tricos and of course this is when the big "riffle" craneflies start their descent on area waters and can provide the most outrageous dry fly fishing of the year! Excellent dry fly fishing continues until we get the really cold weather towards the end of November. With a good mixture of both Brown and Rainbow trout in the upper Beaverhead River, anglers can expect to catch a number of fine trout on most any day of the fishing season.
One of our absolute favorite things about Dillon is our close proximity to both the Beaverhead and Big Hole Rivers, two quaity fisheries that which could not be any more different from each other.
The character of the Beaverhead River is narrow and winding, with willows lining the banks throughout most of its journey. This habitat creates deep undercut banks, coupled with an amazing abundance of insect life the Beaverhead has the capibility of producing some of Montana's largest trout. The water is a very clear blue-green color because of the vegetation and numerous springs that are common throughout the entire length of the river.
While the Beaverhead's habitat remains similar throughout, the techniques and flies that work best change drastically over the course of the river. Closest to the dam, small bugs are usually the ticket with midges, small mayfly imitations and scuds being the most productive flies in general. As you get a little further downstream, from High Bridge down to Barrett's, the hatches become a little more diverse and in certain situations, much more prolific. Caddisflies, a number of different mayflies, yellow sallies, golden stoneflies, craneflies, and more can all be found in this stretch of the river. Streamer fishing can be deadly and is just the ticket especially in low-light conditions and on overcast or rainy days.
As you travel towards Dillon from Clark Canyon the Beaverhead changes to a smaller corridor and is often overlooked by traveling anglers who have only heard or read about the famous upper stretches of the river. Some of the heaviest Mother's Day Caddis and BWO hatches of the year occur within 2 to 3 miles from town, and there is a lot of public access to the water just upstream of town. When flows from Clark Canyon Dam are running full the river around Dillon provides less volume and anglers looking for wade fishing opportunities should look to this section. From Dillon downstream, public access is more difficult and the number of fish per mile decreases significantly because of lower flows and warmer water temperatures. That being said, there are some good fish to be caught in the stretch between Dillon and Twin Bridges, but they are few and far between when compared with the water upstream of Dillon.
Our guiding season starts in March and we continue to fish right on through November. The fishing in March, April and May can be exceptionally good. The traffic is quiet and fish eager to feed as the water temps. will be on the rise. Since the Beaverhead is a tailwater fishery run-off is usually never an issue, except during a few weeks below where Grasshopper Creek enters. June, July, August and September are popular times to fish the Beaverhead. Many anglers fear the heat of late summer, but in our neck of the woods daytime temperatures rarely exceed 95 and difinitely do not interfere with the outstanding fishing that is found. And since the Beaverhead is a bottom release dam, water temperatures are not a problem.
Many of our guides have been on the Beaverhead for over 20 years. They know the lies and where to find the fish on any given day. A trip down the Beaverhead with one of them will only add to your experience. You'll gain a lot of information that will make your future fishing more productive.