3. Fishing the South Fork of the Flathead

3. Fishing the South Fork of the Flathead

per person

If true wilderness and the best native Westslope Cutthroat fishing in the “lower 48” interests you, then we have the trip you’re looking for!  The South Fork of the Flathead, located in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, is a horsepack in/float out trip of 5-7 days, putting you over feisty Cutthroats to 22″ and “Bull Trout” to 15 pounds.  The wilderness mountain settings, clear waters, campfires, wilderness lakes and streams, and superb fishing will wash away worldly cares.

These mid to late summer expeditions are best experienced when this high country river flows low and clear, and trout willingly rise to attractor patterns.  Cameron Lee is the licensed permittee for the South Fork of the Flathead float trips.  We have other wilderness and backcountry trips too, so call soon to reserve your dates on these pristine and permit only wilderness waters.


Typical Itinerary

The South Fork of the Flathead – Bob Marshall Wilderness trip generally begins in Great Falls, the day before the start day.  After picking up licenses and last minute items that afternoon, we check into our lodging for the night and transfer gear to the horsepacker.  We will need to get all your gear except what you will be taking on horseback to the packer by mid afternoon the day before the trip.

The next day begins about 6:00 a.m. for breakfast and the drive or flight to the trailhead.  Here we saddle up and begin our spectacular 1 to 2 day journey into the heart of the wilderness.  The first day is often the longest, about 7 to 9 hours on horseback.  Mountain goats, black bear, elk, and a variety of smaller mammals and birds are often seen along this journey through the Rocky Mountains.  That night we will camp and enjoy the beautiful scenery and wilderness environment.  On some trips, fishing may be available this first evening.

Day two of the wilderness expedition is generally a somewhat shorter ride ending with afternoon wade fishing on the South Fork of the Flathead.

We begin the floating portion of our trip on day three.  Our float fishing day begins around 9:00 a.m. after a hearty breakfast.  We cover 5-15 miles each day before arriving at camp at 5:00-6:00 p.m. A total of 30-47 miles is floated.  Westslope Cutthroat from 10″-20″ are the primary quarry, and take attractor patterns like Royal Wulffs and Humpies greedily.  Bull Trout up to 15 pounds are there too!  Dinner is served at about 6:00 p.m. after which there is plenty of time to wade fish or relax around camp and enjoy an exhilarating wilderness evening.  We will have ample opportunities for taking side hikes, photography, exploring, and fishing tributaries and lakes.  Clearly, the “Bob” is one of the most beautiful, pristine, and majestic places you will ever visit.

On our last day, the float trip ends in the early afternoon at the beginning of Meadow Creek Gorge.  Here we rejoin our horses for a moderate 1 1/2 hour ride or walk out to the pickup point.  From here, we can transport you to your lodging for the night in Kalispell or better yet we can arrange an exciting 20 minute, Alaska style, scenic charter flight out from the edge of the wilderness.  You may choose to extend this flight to a scenic fly over Glacier National Park or the Great Bear Wilderness.  Regardless, we highly recommend this alternative so you can get to your lodging in the most pleasant, exciting, and efficient means.


Pale Morning Dun #12-16                         Hoppers #6-10                         Royal Wulff #10-14                         Elk Hair Caddis #8-16                         Parachute Caddis 10-16                         Stimulator #6-12                         Royal Trude #8-16                         Parachute Adams #10-18 Lightning bug #12-18                         Humpy #10-14                         Girdle bug #4-8                         Montana Nymph #6-12                         Bead Head Prince Nymph #10-16                         Bead Head Pheasant Tail #12-18                         Bead Head Hares Ear #8-16


  • One or two changes of outer clothes should be adequate (use layering method)
  • Long johns are a good idea, particularly the new high tech wicking, quick drying materials
  • Foot gear: light weight hiking boots serve well as combination riding and hiking boots
  • A pair of camp shoes is a good idea
  • Canteen/water bottle
  • Day pack
  • Rain gear can be a saddle slicker, poncho, or rain suit
  • Extra eye glasses
  • Special medications and pain relievers
  • Pillow case stuffed with a jacket or sweater makes a comfy “pillow”
  • Pack everything in one soft luggage or duffel bag
  • Maximum weight of bag should be 50 pounds

It is helpful but not necessary to do some riding prior to your trip.  Being in shape for riding will make your ride more enjoyable, especially the first day.  Bicycling is useful because it helps prepare your posterior as well as the rest of your body.

On the day of the trip please separate everything except the few items you will take with you on horseback.  The only items you should have with you for the horseback ride are: full water bottle, camera, rain gear, fleece jacket or sweater, hat, and riding clothes.  The rest of your gear will be packed up the afternoon before the trip.  Your personal day gear will be packed in saddle bags or a small dry pack.

If you need any specialized clothing or equipment from saddle slickers to sleeping bags, canteens, or underwear, let us know.  We can have it ready for you to purchase or rent when you arrive.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

We look forward to making this horseback/float fishing trip a comfortable, enjoyable, and exciting adventure.

  • Departure Time
  • Return Time
  • Dress Code
    Clothing that ranges from fishing to horseback riding.
  • Included
    3. Fishing the South Fork of the Flathead