Montana - Five Rivers Lodge

Five Rivers Lodge - Montana

We love Montana and there is only one place we go to get the best service, food and fishing; Five Rivers Lodge in Dillon! Jay Burgin has been our close friend for many years and it was Jay who got us started fishing in Southwest Montana back in the early 2000's/. We have spent a lot of time at the lodge and of course fishing the Beaverhead, Big Hole, Ruby, Jefferson as well as smaller creeks around Dillon. Five Rivers is an iconic lodge and fishing experience every angler should experience.


The Fishing

The fishing is as good and diversified as western fly fishing can get. The unique thing about Five Rivers is their location. You can reach and fish 5 major rivers from their location on hwy. 41 just outside of Dillon.

The Beverhead

The 69-mile-long journey of the Beaverhead River begins at the outlet of the Clark Canyon Reservoir, an irrigation storage facility built in 1964.  The Beaverhead river is divided into two distinct sections with unique fishing conditions. After joining with the Ruby River it then joins the Big Hole River at Twin Bridges, Montana to form the Jefferson River.  Brown Trout are the predominant fish in the river, with the upper section of the Beaverhead containing about 15% large rainbow trout. Many anglers believe this section is one of the top three or four waters to fish in the lower US. The outflow from the reservoir pumps cold water into the Beaverhead river, making it the coldest section of the river and provides.excellent habitat for large rainbows and brown trout. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist routinely shocked the river to determine the health, size and numbers of fish in the river. According to them, there are approximately 1500 fish over 23 inches per mile. This does not include the little ones under 23 inches. The total number of fish per mile is approximately 3,800. This means an angler is casting to a fish of four pounds or better every 20 feet of bank.  Overhanging willows and cottonwoods line the banks of this fast-flowing stretch. Wading can be very difficult because of the brushy banks and steep cliffs. Yet, while casting to the banks can be tricky, floating the Beaverhead river is by far the easiest and most productive way to fish this section. The Brown Trout in this section have been aptly named the "freshwater Tarpon" because they are not only large, but have a very nasty disposition and dislike people!! Over the many years our guests have fished the upper Beaverhead, we feel for every 10 fish you hook you might land four to five. This is because a number of fish will straighten or break the hook, break the 4 or 5 pounds test tippet and wrap your line around anything they can find. Many anglers remember the all out fight with the fish they lost, even more so than the ones that they landed.

Below Barretts Dam, the Beaverhead River flows into the valley where irrigation plays a major role.  While the dam diverts nearly half of the river water, private lands use much of the remaining flow for irrigation. Therefore, the Beaverhead River from Barretts Dam to Dillon is slower than the upper section making it classic brown trout water with deep undercut banks, overhanging bushes and submerged roots which gives the Brown Trout excellent cover and habitat. While wade fishing is much easier here, accessing the river can be difficult because it flows primarily through private lands. The stretch of water from Dillon downstream to the confluence with the Ruby river holds substantially larger fish. For anglers looking for a more secluded walk-wade or float, our guides at Five Rivers Lodge have the knowledge and access to many of the best fishing areas on the lower Beaverhead river where access is almost nonexistent because of private farmland.

The Big Hole

The Big Hole River is free flowing its entire course and one of the last undammed rivers in the west. The Big Hole river extends over 150 miles from its modest beginnings in the Beaverhead Mountains of southwest Montana to its confluence with the Beaverhead River near Twin Bridges. The river has been designated as a “Blue Ribbon” fishery. The Big Hole River is one of the prettiest rivers in Montana and a float through Maiden Rock Canyon section is one of the top ten most beautiful and awesome floats in the lower US. The Upper Big Hole River is home to the last stream-dwelling population of Arctic grayling in the lower 48 states.This has prompted many significant private partnerships and cooperative efforts to ensure the protection of this valuable population. In the last five years we have started seeing nice size grayling in the middle sections of the river, again proving that conservation does work. Starting with several sections above the town of Wise River we float what we consider to be nine different all-day float/wade sections. In seven of those nine sections the scenery and water structure are different, so it feels like you're fishing seven different rivers. Every year, in the first part of May, there is a tremendous Mothers Day Caddis Fly hatch and sometimes the hatch is so thick it's even hard to see the water. The Big Hole’s mid-June emergence of the famous “Salmonfly Hatch” starts off the summer fishing season in earnest. The chance to throw two-inch -long dry flies for trout averaging eighteen inches is a rare treat many anglers anticipate. Fishing above and below the "Salmonfly Hatch" can be extremely productive fishing with Salmonfly nymphs. This also can greatly extend the time frame for being there exactly at the right time when the "hatches on". Dry fly fishing for rainbows and browns continues in July, August and September with prolific hatches of caddis, mayflies and lesser stoneflies. During August, the Big Hole river is seeing lots of grasshoppers, ants and other terrestrials that can provide excellent and exciting action as well. This is a great time to use a hopper/dropper combination. In late August and in September Tricos blanket the river in the mornings, while the afternoons can provide tremendous caddis hatches.

The first freeze of autumn occurs in early September, cooling the waters and is the time the big Browns prepare for spawning, their color matching the golden-turning cottonwood trees along the river’s banks. For those anglers who love to throw streamers, this is a very productive and exciting time of the season. Then in October, the Big Hole river provides excellent fishing using nymphs, Caddis and Red Quill imitations during the warm Indian summer days. During this time the trees, like the Brown Trout, wear the brilliant colors of fall.

Combining great fishing with ever-changing beautiful scenery makes the Big Hole River a special angling experience, Be sure to take your camera along for times when you may encounter moose blocking your path in the river; Bighorn Sheep grazing at the river's edge; Golden and Bald eagles close by in trees and the many deer and elk grazing in the meadows along the river banks. The camera also comes in handy for taking great photographs of your fish. Back

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