Just over the “Divide”, about 30 miles northeast of Lincoln is where to go for Dearborn River Fly Fishing. The Dearborn River tumbles down from the east front of the Rock Mountains and flows into the Missouri River 7 miles below Craig, Montana. The North Fork, or “mainstem” is the largest branch. It is floatable just before and just after peak spring run-off until it gets too low to float, usually by the first or second week of July.
Floating the Dearborn
There are 2 stretches we float during this short Dearborn River Fly Fishing season. The shorter of the 2 is from the Hwy 200 Bridge to the Hwy 287 bridge. It is 10 miles according to the river map, but it seems closer to 12. This stretch gets very minimal floating pressure and the fishing can be fantastic! The most popular stretch is from the Hwy 287 Bridge to the Mid-Cannon fishing access site on the Missouri River, about 2 miles below the confluence. The length of this awesome stretch of God’s Country is about 20 miles.
Timing is everything with the Dearborn River Fly Fishing. This is not a trip that can be planned too far into the future. The stream flows must be between 300 – 1,000 cfs for practicality and safety. There are a couple of technical rock gardens and drops, and rapids that can be hindering if low flows. They can be life-threatening at higher flows. These flows usually fluctuate drastically daily, or even hourly.
Ideally, the best way to plan for this trip is to plan to spend a few days to a week fishing in the area. That gives you some flexibility to pick the best day to fish the Dearborn in real-time – the day that offers the best conditions for that river. The other rivers we are fishing in May and June are the blue ribbon designated Blackfoot River on the west side of the divide, and of course, the blue ribbon designated Missouri River which the Dearborn feeds into.
Dearborn River fly fishing is a hidden gem in Montana!
The Dearborn River supports strong Salmonfly and Stonefly hatches that can result in some fantastic fishing during this short window of opportunity. The fast riffles, slower runs, and deep pools are a fishes’ (and a fisherman’s) dream.
The “go-to” rig is the venerable dry-dropper. A dry Salmon or Stone Fly with a nymph dropper is hard to beat. For a change-up, chucking steamers can be epic – especially the last few miles before we hit the Missouri River. The species of fish we catch in the Dearborn are Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, and Brook Trout.
We look forward to sharing this phenomenal fishery with you!
For more interesting information about the Dearborn River click here.
Call us today to schedule your Next Fly Fishing adventure!
Dearborn River Water Flows