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Big Hole River

Montana’s last best river, the Big Hole River, starts in the Beaverhead Mountains south of Jackson at an elevation of over 7,300 feet. The river is 160 miles in length. Travelling through the canyon stretch in Divide and into the farmlands below Melrose this freestone river changes faces several times before reaching Twin Bridges. With over 3,000 trout per mile, it is a world class blue ribbon trout river for many fly fishermen.

Whether we’re fishing the lower river above Twin Bridges, or taking the High road over to Melrose – each day we spend on this river leaves us with a new appreciation for the fish, the water and the land that it flows through. By the time you get to the river, you’re definitely in a “Montana Time” state of mind.


If you have never “chased a hatch“, you may not be able to say that after a day with us on the river. Wind direction, weather patterns, and previous reports may have us looking for stonefly shucks at Browns Bridge. spotting sippers at Pennington during a trico hatch in July, or kicking hoppers in the water below the Notch. This freestone river changes its moods often requires some homework before we launch the boat. How often does it change? My friend Bob Chadwell, after spending three days on the Big Hole in the spring of 2004, determined that we fished three different rivers, all with the same name!

Big Hole River History in Brief

The Lewis and Clark Expeditions traversed through the Big Hole Valley in 1805 enroute to the Pacific Northwest. Captain Lewis had originally named this river the Wisdom River, but through the years, the river became known as the Big Hole. In August of 1877, the famous Nez Perce Indian war was fought in the Big Hole Valley near Wisdom.

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