The Best Places to SUP Fish in Montana: A Comprehensive Guide!
Montana, with its stunning landscapes and abundant water bodies, offers excellent opportunities for Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) fishing enthusiasts. From the northern plains to the western mountains, and the eastern prairies to the southern valleys, this article explores five top locations in each region. We'll highlight the best types of lures or bait to use, the type of fish you can catch, the best time of year to fish, and even share the remarkable stories of the largest target species caught at each location. So grab your paddle board, fishing gear, and get ready to explore Montana's SUP fishing paradise! These are some of the best places for sup fishing in Montana, do you have other hidden gems we should know about?
Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, is a SUP fishing haven. Anglers can target various species such as lake trout, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass. Effective lures include swimbaits, jigs, and spoons. Spring and fall are prime seasons for fishing here, with anglers reporting remarkable catches year-round. In July 2019, an impressive 38-pound lake trout was caught by a dedicated angler.
Fort Peck Reservoir:
Located on the Missouri River, Fort Peck Reservoir is known for its fantastic walleye fishing. Popular lures include crankbaits, jigs, and spinnerbaits. Spring and early summer offer the best opportunities for walleye fishing, as they migrate closer to the shore. In May 2021, a trophy-sized walleye weighing 12 pounds was landed by an angler who will forever cherish that memory.
Whitefish Lake, nestled in the picturesque town of Whitefish, offers an array of fish species, including rainbow trout, lake trout, and northern pike. Top lure choices include jerkbaits, spoons, and soft plastics. Early summer and fall are great times to fish for rainbow trout, while lake trout are more active in the colder months. In October 2020, an angler landed a 32-inch northern pike, leaving him with a fish tale to tell for years to come.
Thompson Chain of Lakes:
The Thompson Chain of Lakes, a collection of interconnected lakes near Kalispell, provides a tranquil SUP fishing experience. Anglers target species like largemouth bass, perch, and bluegill. Effective lures include soft plastics, topwater lures, and live bait. Spring and summer are ideal for targeting largemouth bass, which can reach impressive sizes. In June 2022, a massive 8-pound largemouth bass was caught, leaving the angler with an unforgettable memory.
The Swan River, located in the scenic Swan Valley, is renowned for its trout fishing opportunities. Brown trout and rainbow trout are the primary targets. Successful lures include nymphs, streamers, and dry flies. The best time to fish the Swan River is during the summer months when trout are more active. In July 2021, an angler landed a trophy-sized brown trout weighing 6 pounds, etching that day into their angling history.
Clark Fork River:
The Clark Fork River, stretching across western Montana, offers exceptional fishing for trout, including rainbow trout and brown trout. Anglers have success with nymphs, streamers, and dry flies. Late spring and early summer are prime times for trout fishing here. In June 2020, an angler caught a 24-inch brown trout, creating an everlasting memory of that beautiful summer day.
The Bitterroot River, with its pristine waters, is a popular destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Rainbow trout and cutthroat trout are the sought-after species. Effective fly patterns include nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Late spring and early summer are excellent times to fish the Bitterroot River. In May 2023, an angler landed a magnificent 20-inch rainbow trout, reminding them of the exceptional fishing opportunities the river offers.
Rock Creek, a scenic tributary of the Clark Fork River, is famous for its blue-ribbon trout fishing. Rainbow trout and brown trout thrive in its waters. Successful fly patterns include nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Spring and early summer provide prime fishing conditions. In April 2022, an angler caught a 22-inch brown trout, forever cementing Rock Creek as a cherished fishing spot.
The Kootenai River, located in the far northwest corner of Montana, offers a unique fishing experience. Anglers can target species such as rainbow trout, bull trout, and whitefish. Successful lures include streamers, spoons, and spinners. Spring and fall are great times to fish here, with rainbow trout being the most common catch. In September 2021, an angler hooked a trophy-sized rainbow trout measuring 26 inches, becoming the highlight of their fishing season.
Lake Koocanusa, stretching from Montana into Canada, is a massive reservoir renowned for its excellent fishing opportunities. Anglers target species like kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass. Effective lures include spoons, crankbaits, and soft plastics. Spring and fall offer great fishing conditions, with kokanee salmon being a popular target. In May 2020, an angler caught a remarkable 20-inch kokanee salmon, etching their name in the record books.
Fort Peck Lake:
Fort Peck Lake, mentioned earlier, deserves a place in the eastern Montana category as well due to its vastness. Besides walleye, it offers opportunities to catch northern pike, sauger, and lake trout. Lure choices vary depending on the target species, including crankbaits, spoons, and jigs. Fishing can be productive year-round, with each season offering unique opportunities. In February 2023, an angler reeled in a monstrous 46-inch northern pike, setting a new personal best.
1.A Fort Peck Dredge Cuts:
Located in Fort Peck Lake, provide a unique fishing experience. Anglers can target a variety of species, including walleye, sauger, and northern pike. Effective lures include jigs, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits. Fishing can be productive year-round, with each season offering its advantages. In November 2021, an angler caught a massive 14-pound walleye, creating an unforgettable memory on this vast reservoir.
The Yellowstone River, one of Montana's legendary waterways, offers an incredible diversity of fish species. Anglers can target brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and even the elusive Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Successful fly patterns include nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Spring and early summer provide excellent conditions for fishing. In May 2022, an angler landed a 25-inch Yellowstone cutthroat trout, marking a memorable day on this iconic river.
The Missouri River, known for its blue-ribbon trout fishing, attracts anglers from far and wide. Rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout are plentiful here. Effective fly patterns include nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Spring and early summer are prime times for trout fishing on the Missouri River. In June 2021, an angler caught a beautiful 22-inch brown trout, solidifying the river's reputation as a top-notch fishing destination.
Tongue River Reservoir:
Tongue River Reservoir, situated near the town of Decker, offers fantastic angling opportunities for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and crappie. Top lures include soft plastics, jigs, and crankbaits. Spring and fall are ideal for bass fishing, while crappie are more active during the summer months. In September 2020, an angler hooked an impressive 6-pound largemouth bass, forever capturing the excitement of that day.
Big Horn River:
The Big Horn River, winding through the breathtaking Big Horn Canyon, is celebrated for its world-class trout fishing. Rainbow trout and brown trout are abundant here. Successful fly patterns include nymphs, midges, and streamers. Spring and summer offer excellent fishing conditions. In June 2021, an angler landed a trophy-sized 24-inch rainbow trout, reminding them of the river's remarkable fishery.
The Madison River, flowing through Yellowstone National Park and Montana, is a legendary destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout can be found in its waters. Effective fly patterns include nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Spring and early summer provide prime fishing opportunities. In May 2022, an angler caught a stunning 20-inch brown trout, making it a day they will forever treasure.
The Ruby River, known for its scenic beauty, offers excellent trout fishing. Rainbow trout and brown trout are the main targets for anglers. Successful fly patterns include nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Spring and summer are prime times for trout fishing. In July 2020, an angler landed a remarkable 23-inch rainbow trout, leaving a lasting impression of the Ruby River's angling potential.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir:
Canyon Ferry Reservoir, located near Helena, provides diverse fishing opportunities. Anglers can target species such as walleye, rainbow trout, and yellow perch. Effective lures include jigs, crankbaits, and spoons. Spring and fall offer great fishing conditions, with walleye being the prized catch. In October 2021, an angler caught a 10-pound walleye, forever commemorating their success on this picturesque reservoir.
Clark Canyon Reservoir:
Clark Canyon Reservoir, nestled in the Ruby Valley, offers serene fishing experiences. Rainbow trout, brown trout, and kokanee salmon can be found here. Successful lures include spoons, crankbaits, and soft plastics. Spring and fall provide ideal fishing conditions, with kokanee salmon being a sought-after species. In September 2022, an angler reeled in a stunning 18-inch kokanee salmon, making it a memorable day on Clark Canyon Reservoir.
Montana's diverse regions provide abundant opportunities for SUP fishing enthusiasts. Whether you're in the northern plains, western mountains, eastern prairies, or southern valleys, each region offers unique fishing experiences. From the remarkable catches to the picturesque landscapes, Montana's SUP fishing destinations have something to offer anglers of all skill levels. So grab your gear, hop on your paddle board, and immerse yourself in the thrill of SUP fishing in the treasure state of Montana.
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For wildlife tips check out our blog and this article on Beginners Guide To Bird Watching. And don't forget to read our article on Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Wildlife Encounters. For a complete guide of where to paddle board in every state, this one is for you! The best places to paddle board in the United States a state by state tour of where to paddle board with Glide Paddle Boards. Or perhaps something international is what you are looking for, then these two articles will help out. Check out the ultimate guide on finding places to paddle board near you for tips and tricks on finding new and exciting places near you! And for international spots Epic Spots Globally To Paddle Board is for you!