Let our professional fishing guides show you one of the most remote, trout-filled rivers in Montana on a fishing specific South Fork Flathead trip. We start the trip with a two-day ride (or hike) through spectacular scenery to access the starting point of the float, then spend five days fly-fishing some of the most pristine water in Montana. Come see for yourself why the South Fork of the Flathead is a legendary wilderness fishing trip!
This trip includes a two-day, 25-mile horseback ride to access the remote South Fork Flathead. With no roads or airstrips, everything is horse-packed to the put in–it’s the real Montana experience! The scenery on the ride portion of the trip is spectacular. We ride over a mountain pass and through alpine meadows flourishing with wildflowers, before dropping into the headwaters of the South Fork. This remote valley deep in the Bob Marshall Wilderness is home to extraordinary wildlife, including elk, moose, wolf, eagles, mountain goats, grizzly and black bear.
The South Fork Flathead is one of the most beautiful and productive trout streams in North America. For the first few days of the trip, the water meanders lazily through a sweeping glacial valley and grand Ponderosa Pines. We dedicate our river time on this trip to fishing for one of the purest strains of Westslope Cutthroat trout in the world. During July, the South Fork is one of the only rivers in America where you can target bull trout. Catching a South Fork bull trout will be a lasting memory for any fisherman. Big and plenty, these native fish average 12-20 inches. Each fishing boat will carry one or two fishermen with a professional fishing guide. Our guides are knowledgable with flies, the waters of the South Fork, and all aspects of fly-fishing, and they are ready to advise if you need assistance. Or, if you are an experienced fisherman, they will put you in the right spot and let you do your thing!
On this trip, we offer a deluxe camping option where a gear boat goes ahead of the other fishing boats to start setting up camp. As the fishing boats arrive, some of the crew will start getting appetizers ready and finish camp setup. Join us for seven wonderful days of luxury camping and dry fly-fishing in the incredible Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana!
Included: We provide transportation from Kalispell to the Rich Ranch and back to Kalispell at the end of the trip. All meals and snacks, beginning with dinner at the Rich Ranch the night before the trip and ending with lunch on the last day. We also provide use of our sleeping bags, pads, pillows and tents. You will be given dry bags for clothing, sleeping gear, as well as a smaller bag for day use. Most people prefer to bring their own fishing gear, but fishing guides will have a rod setup and other fishing accessories.
Not included: Prices do not include motels after the trip and guide gratuities.
DISCOUNTS: Group discounts based upon the number of people in your party. Charter Trips: Charter trips are available for groups of 6 or more. This means your group has reserved the entire trip. Ask us for details on chartering a trip!
DEPOSIT & RESERVATION Reservations can be made by contacting our office at 800.252.6581. A 25% non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot. The remainder is due 45 days prior to the trip departure.
After your reservation, we will promptly send you a trip packet including general information on your trip, your invoice and statement, gear list, and medical and liability waiver forms that you will need to return to our office.
Cancellation and Refunds: Operating quality trips is a costly operation with no margin for losses resulting from late cancellations. The space you reserve is held for you, and this may mean turning others away. Each trip is planned for the number of reserved spaces, guides scheduled, supplies bought, rafts and vehicles assigned. If notice of cancellations is made more than 45 days prior to departure, you may transfer to any other trip in the same season without penalty. Otherwise the cost is non-refundable.
Travel Insurance: We strongly recommend that you protect yourself with a short term traveler’s insurance policy. Trip cancellation will cover your losses on non-refundable air and land cost on unexpected cancellations.
Cancelled Trips: We reserve the right to cancel a trip due to insufficient reservations, water or weather conditions. In such cases, a full refund for the trip is given. If possible, we will offer an option of a different trip of comparable type.
The South Fork of the Flathead trip begins and ends in Kalispell, Montana.
Before the trip: Fly commercially into Kalispell, Montana. Delta, Alaska/Horizon, United, Allegiant, Frontier and US Airways offer flights into Glacier International Airport (FCA). A variety of car rentals are available should you decide to visit Glacier National Park before or after your trip. Please alert our office of your arrival time and we can arrange to pick you up.
We will provide transportation from Kalispell to the Rich Ranch the day before your trip is scheduled to begin. Please make sure you arrive in Kalispell before 3 p.m. We will have cabins reserved, dinner reservations and orientation at the Rich Ranch. We will need to have our gear ready early the next morning so after dinner and orientation, it’s time to get packed for our morning departure. A short drive to the trailhead and we’ll be on our way.
Motel After: Make your reservations at the Red Lion Hotel (1-800-547-8010) or Travellodge (1-406-755-6123) in Kalispell. The hotel will provide shuttle service from the airport.
After the trip: We provide transportation back to the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell where we typically have an optional farewell dinner that evening.
Suggested reading:Montana’s Bob Marshall Country, by Rick & Susie Craetz. This is a very good, concise resource on “The Bob,” especially the sections on wildlife and history!
SAMPLE ITINERARY We like to keep our schedule flexible so we can customize every trip. Activities will vary according to the group interests, weather, and water levels. Day before the trip: Arrive in Kalispell, MT. We will provide transportation from Kalispell to the Rich Ranch. Please make sure you arrive in Kalispell before 3 p.m. We will have cabins reserved, dinner reservations and orientation at the Rich Ranch. In the evening we’ll get together to go over gear, hand out WRO hydroflasks and T-shirts and answer any last minute questions.
Day 1: We’ll get an early start for our drive to the Lodgepole Trailhead, so we can cover about 12 miles on horses the first day, going over a mountain pass and camping along the headwaters of the South Fork. This is usually a great place to spot wildlife. While the crew riding horses will stop partway, some of the guides will go all the way to the river to start rigging boats and gear at the put in.
Day 2: Finish the ride to the river, arriving in the afternoon. There are some fishing holes near the confluence of Young’s Creek and the Danaher, so if you feel like doing a little fishing that afternoon that can be an option. We usually camp near the confluence the second night and finish rigging the boats for the next morning’s departure.
Day 3: Our first day on the river! As the South Fork Flathead meanders through gravel bars there are nice fishing holes that can be fished from the boats or the bank. On lower water trips, there are some places we may need to have fishermen get out of the boats in shallow water.
Day 4-6: We’ll keep working our way down the river from hole to hole, stopping for a nice lunch along the river and staying at comfortable riverside camps. There are opportunities to take side hikes here and there to fish surrounding tributaries and lakes, so there will be plenty of opportunities for enjoying the superb fishing! We’ll can also take some time to wander through the surrounding beautiful Ponderosa forests to spot grazing elk and other wildlife.
Day 7: After a morning of fishing, we reach the Mid Creek take out at the head of the Meadow Creek Gorge, where the easy-going South Fork becomes very narrow and fast. The class V gorge is not runnable with the fishing specific boats used on this trip. Horses will come in and pick up the rafts and other river gear to be packed out to the Meadow Creek Trailhead where we will meet the van. From the trailhead it is about four hours back to Kalispell. For an additional fee, there is the option to fly from nearby Spotted Bear airstrip to avoid the long and sometimes bumpy car ride back to Kalispell.
*Itinerary and route to river is subject to change based on water levels, horse packer requirements, and trail conditions.
South Fork of the Flathead River Suggested Gear
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
This is the suggested gear list for this particular trip. Having the right gear is important to make it the best possible experience for you. Most of the gear listed you will have or you can use it year-round on any outdoor excursion (football games, boating, skiing, etc.). We want you to have everything you will need to be comfortable and happy.
We encourage no stereos or speakers to promote yours and others wilderness experience!
SLEEPING BAG, PAD, PILLOW, TENT, AND GROUND CLOTH…packed in a large dry bag for you.
LARGE WATERPROOF BAG…for your clothing and personal items.
WATERPROOF DAY BAG…a smaller dry bag for items you would like access to during the day.
RAIN GEAR… good jacket and pants, ponchos aren’t enough. AVOID VINYL & CHEAP PLASTICS.
3 LIGHTWEIGHT SHIRTS…at least one long sleeved.
2 PAIR LONG PANTS…one synthetic is best. You will also want a pair of jeans or other sturdy pants for the horseback portion of the trip.
2 PAIR SHORTS…synthetics dry faster.
SWIMSUITS…nylon is best because it dries faster.
CAP OR SUNHAT…in case of wind attach with a tie or clip.
WARM WOOL OR SYNTHETIC HAT…for cool evenings…a must for everyone.
GLOVES OR MITTENS…synthetic or wool.
2 WARM SHIRTS…fleece or wool.
LONG UNDERWEAR…polypro or capilene (not cotton) tops & bottoms.
WARM JACKET…synthetic down is warm even when damp.
HIKING BOOTS or TRAIL SHOES…well broken in. You will need a sturdy shoe for the horseback ride in and other side hikes we may take on the trip.
SOCKS…4-5 pair, we suggest 3 medium synthetic wool and 2 liner socks or lightweight socks.
RIVER SANDALS/SHOES and/or OLD SNEAKERS FOR WATER…it’s nice to have a shoe for walking around on the rocks and getting in and out of the boat.
NEOPRENE SOCKS…can be worn under river shoes to help keep your feet warm in the cold water.
SUNGLASSES AND CROAKIES/CHUMS…protects against glare. We suggest you pack an extra pair of glasses or contacts.
SMALL DAY OR FANNY PACK…for side excursions.
WATER BOTTLE…at least 1 liter.
CAMERA…bring an extra battery and memory card.
ZIPLOCKS…for personal trash and organization.
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES…if desired (in plastic or aluminum containers, no glass!), we recommend hard alcohol on this trip as everything is packed in on horses and weight sensitive.
WRO provides a MAJOR FIRST AID KIT. However, we do recommend you bring your own preferred personal medication and accessories (Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin, Band-Aids, Cold medicine, etc..)
On this wilderness fishing expedition everything is packed in to the put-in by horses and packed out on horses at the end. Please pack what you need, but keep in mind the weight limit is 35 lbs/person.
Reviews from the South Fork of the Flathead River Trip
“The fishing was unbelievable, the river was perfect, the food was great, the hikes were beautiful and the company was the best. Speaking for Trent and myself, we did not want the trip to end. We will forever cherish the time we shared in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.” Steve Page, 2012