Smith River

Runs to the Missouri from the Big Belt Mountains near White Sulfur Springs. Watch the Video


Winding through ranch lands shadowed by the Belt Mountains of central Montana, the Smith River begins its journey west to the Missouri. Just downstream of the cowboy town of White Sulfur Springs, the Smith slices a sixty-three mile twisting jag right through the mountains before emptying out into the fertile Missouri River bottoms. It is here, through Montana’s most spectacular river canyon, that we conduct our five day/four night Smith River fly-fishing adventures.

Unlike the other famous Montana trout streams mirrored by major thoroughfares, the Smith River flows for over 50 miles without a single paralleling or bisecting highway. Other than a smattering of summer homes and dude ranches, the Smith River Canyon is all yours, for five days, without wailing sirens or the drone of motor cars.

The Smith River Canyon is the only waterway in Montana where all recreational floating is limited by a state legislated permit system. Even private floaters must obtain permits via an annual random drawing for launch dates. The total number of trips launching on any given day may not exceed nine—eight of which are private and one commercial. Stringent use limits imperative, given the river’s limited access, miles of seclusion, exceptional beauty, wilderness appeal and tremendous trout fishing. So desired is this trip that the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks received nearly 8,100 applications for private permits last year. And the acclaim is well deserved.

Few of Montana’s prolific trout streams offer the solitude and magnitude of the Smith. It should be high on any western river angler’s “must do” list.

We operate our Smith River trips under a very limited Special Use Permit issued by Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest.  Blackfoot River Outfitters is an equal opportunity employer.

The Stats

  • Typical Catch

    We expect to catch browns 13"-18" with a few over 20", rainbows 12"-15" and have at least 20 opportunities per rod per day.

  • Total Area of Drainage

    Just over 2000 miles.

  • Total River Miles We Guide

    The 60 Miles of the Smith River Canyon

  • Travel Distances from Missoula

    A little over 3 hours from Missoula.

  • Bank-side Accommodations

    Riverside Camp with cots/pads, sleeping tents you can stand in, wall tent for dining if the weather is wet.

  • Primary Style of Fishing

    Most of our fishing on the Smith is tight line swinging streamer/nymph combos, stripping streamers off the banks, or pitching attractor dries and droppers tight to the cliff walls.

BRO’s Top Six Patterns for Smith River

  • Sparkle Minnow #6-4
  • Beadhead San Juan Worm (red, pink, purple) #12-8
  • Chubbies (tan, orange or purple) #10-6
  • Patriot Wulff #14-10
  • Conehead Buggers (tan, olive, jj's, brown or black) #8-4
  • Red Tread Beaded Prince #14-8