Clark Fork River

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Clark Fork River

Updated 05/18/2023 at 10:42pm

Conditions At-a-glance


Weather Forecast

Our Report

BRO’s Tips of the Week:

The Clark Fork is still in full runoff. Creeks and tributaries open this Saturday, and along with tailwaters and lakes, smaller water will be your best option for the near future.

7 Day Outlook:

The next couple of days look beautiful around the Missoula area – high 80s and mid-70s next week. Expect the river to stay big. 

Our Recommendations for the Best Techniques and Patterns:

If you can find accessible, slow water, fishing larger, dark nymphs together with weight can find a fish or two. Think big Rubber Legs, the TJ Hooker, Double Bead Stones, and a San Juan as more worms wash into the river, but again, it’s better to head elsewhere. 

If you throw streamers, olive and black patterns, Mini Dungeons, Baby Gongas, or Sparkle Minnows might get a chase tight to the bank.

See our staff pick fly selection here!

Goings on at World Headquarters in Missoula:

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Call or email us for up to the minute updates at 406.542.7411 or if you are in the area, stop in for all your Orvis gear and the right bugs.

USGS Water Charts


The Clark Fork jumped in flow this week and is running off-color.

The Hatch

March Browns, BWOs.

Fly Patterns

DRIES - March Browns #12-14, BWOs #18 NYMPHS - TJ Hooker, Girdle Bug, Rubber Legs, San Juan #08-#12. Perdigon, Spanish Bullet, Frenchie, Brillon’s Mean Machine, Duracell, Prince Nymph, Jig PT #14-18, Zebra Midge #18-20. STREAMERS - Double Gonga #08, Zonkers #06 & #08 in Natural, Olive, or Yellow. Lil Kims. Buggers #06-12, Dungeon in Brown, Olive, and White.


Water Flow

14,500cfs (above average for this time of year)



Water temperature at mid-day

48 degrees

Water Condition

The river is high and muddy.

Best time of day to fish

Late morning through evening.

Best stretch

The whole river is starting to open up. Floating is easiest through town and below Missoula.

Best access point

Multiple access points all along the river.

Fish species

Rainbows, westslope cutthroats, cut-bows, browns, pike and whitefish.

Fishing season

Fishing season is open year round.

Nearest airport

Missoula International Airport

Recommended fly fishing leader

From a boat - 7.5' 3x-4x. Wading step it up to 9'

Recommended fly fishing tippet

3x top bug and 4x for second or 4x to 5x for smaller rigs

Best fly fishing rod

9ft 5 or 6 weights for nymphing and dries - 7wt for streamers

Best floating fly line

WF 5wt or 6wt

Best sinking fly line