Glacier Angler, MT

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter in West Glacier, Montana

Glacier Angler, MT

Overview

Montana is legendary for its fly fishing. Experience it for yourself in the waters that surround Glacier National Park. We offer daily and multi-day guided trips on the beautiful North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River, and multi-day trips into the Great Bear Wilderness to fish the acclaimed Upper Middle Fork. This is prime habitat for eager native westslope cutthroat trout. Bring your own gear or let us supply everything you need. A Montana fishing license is required for all fishing trips with the exception of private pond fishing. Purchase your license at Glacier Outdoor Center or purchase online at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. If you're a beginner, we provide instruction on private ponds where no fishing license is required. One lesson and you may be hooked on fly fishing for life (if you're lucky).

Date Range

Glacier Anglers offers guided fishing trips from April through October.

What is Provided to Customer

Glacier Anglers will provide all necessary equipment, but you are welcome to bring your own gear if you so choose. Glacier Anglers provides Coast Guard approved life jackets for all guided trips. Complimentary waders, wading boots and rain gear are available in inclement weather. Beverages are provided on all fishing trips and a deli lunch is included on all full day trips.

Region/Terrain Where You Fish

The Flathead River system is a fragile environment of clear mountain streams, vast forests and a variety of threatened and endangered species. The river possesses such outstanding qualities that in 1976 Congress added 219 miles of the Flathead to the nation's Wild and Scenic River System. Glacier Anglers is proud to offer guided trips on the Middle Fork (including the Upper Middle Fork) and North Fork of the Flathead.

Middle Fork of the Flathead River (Recreation Section)
The Middle Fork originates in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and flows northwesterly to form the southern border of Glacier National Park in northwest Montana. The Middle Fork offers a unique way to experience the park's majestic beauty. In the spring and early summer there is good whitewater on the Middle Fork. During peak runoff the river is home to Class III+ rapids. By late July the rapids have moderated to fun-filled Class II-III. The Middle Fork has excellent fishing with the unique native westslope cutthroat trout being the primary target. The Flathead is one of the few remaining strongholds for this feisty fish that requires extremely clean, cold mountain streams in order to thrive. Rainbow trout, whitefish and the protected bull trout also make their home in the Middle Fork.

North Fork of the Flathead River
The North Fork originates in Canada and flows southerly into Montana. Glacier National Park lies to the east and the Flathead National Forest, state lands and private lands border the west side. The river flows 58 miles through Montana before its confluence with the Middle Fork. Floaters will find the views breathtaking and the water gin clear (once spring runoff has receded). Peak water is in early June, with low water by early-September. Whitewater ratings range from I-II.

The North Fork provides prime habitat for trout and invites you to drop your line in a variety of water conditions, be it drifting a fly across a deep slow moving pool or laying your line out along the tail of a fast moving riffle. Like the Middle Fork, the North Fork is home to a healthy population of native westslope cutthroat.

In addition to prolific dry-fly fishing the North Fork is famous for its spectacular views, crystal clear waters and an abundance and variety of wildlife; it's an excellent place to spot wildlife. Bald eagles and osprey are common and floaters often spot black bear, moose, grizzly bear, wolves, elk and deer.

Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River (Great Bear Wilderness Section)
In 1978, the Great Bear Wilderness Area was established as a corridor linking the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park. The combined expanse of the park and wilderness is approximately 3 million acres, the largest tract of protected lands in the lower 48 states. Flowing for nearly 50 miles through the heart of this rugged and beautiful landscape, the Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River carves its way through the glacial valleys and lush forests of Northwest Montana. Known as Montana's mightiest river, this upper section of the river is one of the most protected rivers in the United States. Years of hard fought conservation efforts have kept this the most pristine river in the United States. The Upper Middle Fork offers remarkable dry-fly fishing, spectacular beauty and abundant wildlife. Glacier Anglers is proud to be the only Montana outfitter permitted to operate guided trips on the Upper Middle Fork.

The Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River is accessible only by air, horse or foot. In a country where so many of our great rivers are dammed and their flow regulated by government rather than nature, there's a special magic about the Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River, part of the nation's Wild and Scenic River System, and all its natural free-flowing splendor.

Typical Weather by Season

The Flathead Valley of northwest Montana enjoys a relatively mild climate for its elevation (about 3,000 feet) and latitude (near the 49th parallel). Glorious summers boast warm days, abundant sunshine, low humidity, and cool nights. Daytime temperatures average 80 degrees F in July and August with nighttime lows typically in the 50s. Prepare for a variety of conditions and pack accordingly. You may start the day in a T-shirt and shorts, and need a jacket by evening. Dress in layers and always bring raingear.

Itinerary

Sample of Typical Itinerary

Unless stated otherwise our trips are run in a raft with a fishing frame or in a drift boat depending on the river level and section of river you’re fishing.

Half-Day and Full-Day Guided Fly Fishing
No matter if you are a seasoned fly fisherman with decades of experience or a novice who doesn’t know your line from your leader, our guides will give you the support and instruction needed to coax fish to your fly. All our trips run on the North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River in the shadow of Glacier National Park.

Our Half-Day trip offers a great sampling of the fishing available on the forks of the Flathead. It’s a good option if your schedule is cramped and you’re looking to fit a few hours of fishing in the same day as a local hike or a whitewater raft trip. The Half-Day trip departs from our fly shop at 8:30am or 1:30pm and returns around 12:30pm and 5:30pm respectively. Your guide will provide bottled water, but you are welcome to bring snacks or other beverages if you so choose.

Our Full-Day trip offers a quintessential day of Montana fly fishing. Departing from our fly shop at 8:30am and returning around 5:30pm, you’ll have ample time to explore all the seams, pockets and riffles that are likely to hold hungry cutthroat. The Full Day also gives our guides the opportunity to choose from many river sections as most of the put-ins and take-outs on the Middle and North Forks are perfectly positioned to accommodate a full day on the water. Your guide will provide a delicious deli lunch, bottled water and lemonade. You are welcome to bring other snacks or beverages if you like.

2-7 Day Guided Fly Fishing
At least once in your life you should treat yourself to an extraordinary fishing adventure in this “last great place.” The rivers we fish border Glacier National Park, one of the most sensational natural settings on earth. We offer multi-day fishing excursions on various sections of both the Middle and North Forks of the Flathead as well as the acclaimed Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead within the Great Bear Wilderness.

Middle Fork or North Fork Custom Multi-Day

Fish all day, spend your nights under the Big Sky, and wake to the sounds of the river on a fishing trip designed just for you. The length and location of these trips can be varied to create an adventure that best fits your schedule, budget and group dynamic. The North Fork offers unmatched views into Glacier Park as it flows through broad valleys carved by the bellies of glaciers long forgotten. The Middle Fork provides spectacular scenery in wooded canyons above and below a magestic alluvial flood plain. Both rivers are accessible by road though we have recently begun providing an exciting mode of shuttle for our North Fork trips…

North Fork Heli Fly-In Float-Out Fishing
What better way to start your trip through “The Crown of the Continent” than by watching it slip beneath you from the window of your own private helicopter shuttle. In 2011 we began offering a scenic helicopter ride as an optional start to our North Fork Multi-Day trips and it has quickly become one of our favorite trip amenities.

Great Bear Wilderness Trip
If you are looking for the one wilderness-fishing trip that offers it all, the upper 32 miles of the Middle Fork in the Great Bear Wilderness is it. Every once in a while an opportunity floats by that's just too exciting to pass up. Get ready, this is one of them. We invite you to join us on our 4-to 7-Day Great Bear Wilderness Fly-Fishing Adventure this summer. No other trip in the lower 48 states compares. This is a fishing experience you will treasure for a lifetime.

In a nation where so many of our great rivers are dammed, their flow regulated by government rather than nature, there's a special magic about the Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River. As part of the nation's Wild and Scenic River System, the Middle Fork is a remote, free-flowing wonder of a river. It’s very rare to see another party on the upper section and the fishing is phenomenal. You'll see breathtaking scenery, experience fly fishing at its best, enjoy gourmet meals, and share tales of the day around the campfire before crawling into your tent alongside the river.

What to expect on a Great Bear Wilderness trip.
We access the river at a point where it is reachable via an easy trail. This scenic hike ventures through the beautiful Granite Creek valley and takes about two hours. If you prefer not to hike in, we can arrange to have a horse carry you. Once we reach the river, you’ll spend the remainder of your trip casting to native westslope cutthroat trout camping along the Upper Middle Fork.

The rapids of "Spruce Park Gorge", "Lunch Creek" and "25-Mile Creek" make this a real adventure. Trips through June experience exciting whitewater, but if you’re looking for some of the best cutthroat fishing in the northwest then it’s best to come after the first week of July through the end of August.

The Upper Middle Fork has a bounty of native westslope cutthroat trout as do the high mountain lakes in this area. We often take a short 1½ mile hike into one of these mountain-cradled, crystal blue lakes. The cutthroat trout in these lakes can get as big as 20 inches and weigh up to 3 lbs. On the river it’s also not uncommon to pull in 16 – 20 inch fish. You may catch something else, too – a glimpse of a deer, moose, elk, mountain goat, or eagle. There’s a lot of wildlife in this backcountry.

Custom group trips
If you're interested in an exclusive fishing trip, we can customize an itinerary for your group. We typically hold group sizes to around six. For every two anglers we have one guide. Our emphasis is on providing a wonderful experience – fishing, camping, rafting, hiking and enjoying the great outdoors. Our agenda is subject to change due to trail conditions, weather, water levels and group interests. One thing is certain: you and your friends will find much to enjoy on this remote wilderness adventure. Although much of the fishing is from a boat, we often wet wade in pools and riffles along the way. If you have questions on what to bring or if you prefer to pick up gear when you arrive in Montana, we have a full service fly shop to assist you. A Montana fishing license is required prior to trip departure. You can purchase one at Glacier Outdoor Center.

This is a "wild" river and as its classification implies it should not be taken lightly. We recommend you be in good physical condition for this trip and be prepared for some breathtaking moments. You'll leave feeling tired but rejuvenated after having spent several days deep in the heart of Montana’s most remote wilderness. Grab the opportunity!

Species

Species You Fish for by Season

Two things that separate Glacier Anglers from many of the other outfitters and fisheries in Montana, let alone the rest of the country, is that we’re fishing for native trout on completely unimpeded freestone rivers. You’re hard pressed in many parts of America, even in a state as unpopulated as Montana, to find trout streams devoid of dams, diversions, weirs and other such thumbprints of human development. We are lucky enough to have two such watersheds, the Middle and North Forks of the Flathead, two of the cleanest rivers in North America, right in our backyard. And in these pure, protected streams swims a species of fish that has made its home here for thousands of years.

The native westslope cutthroat trout, in addition to being an extremely beautiful and lively fish, is a remarkable indicator of water cleanliness and stream health. These fish are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine … if the health of a river begins to degrade they are often the first fish to go. This sensitivity combined with the decline of many western rivers has resulted in a relatively small habitat range, primarily consisting of Western Montana, Idaho, and Southeast British Columbia.

Cutthroat fishing on the Flathead can be a special experience for anglers of all ability levels. These fish offer beginners a great opportunity to catch fish, as they are quick to the fly and often aren’t nearly as line shy as the residents of Montana’s more heavily trafficked trout streams. For the experienced fisherman the challenge comes in targeting the largest and wiliest cutthroat, some measuring 18"-20+”. In the past few years we’ve seen our local native Westslope Cutthroat trout population grow in both average size and quantity, observations that bode well for the health of our rivers and your chances of catching many native trout.

Gear

What Should Customers Bring?

What to Wear: Dress according to weather and water conditions. On a warm, sunny day, wear shorts, a synthetic fishing shirt and hat, along with shoes you don't mind getting wet and that will stay on your feet.

Early season or on cooler days, wool or fleece shirts and hats will make your fishing adventure more enjoyable.

Complimentary waders, wading boots and rain gear are available in inclement weather.

What to Bring: We recommend a 9’ 5 weight or smaller with a weight forward floating line, several leaders (3x, 4x or 5x leaders work well), and a good variety of western trout patterns including Chernobyl Ants, Royal Wulffs, caddis patterns (especially the Elk Hair), Parachute Adams and Stimulators. We have a great selection of flies in our shop and our staff can help you choose the best fly for your trip and time of year.

A Montana fishing license is required and is available for purchase at Glacier Outdoor Center. Glacier Anglers provides Coast Guard approved life jackets for all guided trips.

As a general rule, don't take anything with you on the river that can't get wet. If you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses, be sure to bring along a retainer to hold them on (disposable cameras and eyeglass retainers are available for purchase in our store). Visit www.glacieranglers.net to see our detailed multi-day packing list.

Fly Shop

Our Fly Shop

Glacier Anglers Fly Shop is located within our full-scale outdoor store – Glacier Outdoor Center. Conveniently located just ½ mile from the west entrance to Montana’s Glacier National Park, Glacier Anglers Fly Shop is the closest fly shop to the incredible native trout fisheries found in the Wild and Scenic corridors of the North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River system as well as the beautiful lakes and streams of Glacier National Park and the Great Bear Wilderness. Our savvy staff will get you lined up for a great fishing experience and point you in the right direction to find it. We’ll set you up with the right equipment and flies for your next fishing expedition. You’ll find quality rods, tackle and apparel from Orvis and many other industry leading brands.

Stop in and pick up your Montana fishing license or, if you’re planning to fish the lakes of the Blackfeet Nation, we have the tribal permits here!

Novice fishermen and family groups will be amazed with the fishing instruction available at the four stocked ponds located behind Glacier Outdoor Center. Instructors will educate you on the history of fly fishing, types of equipment, knots, casting techniques, fly patterns, presentation, hatches, reading water and fish identification. No Montana fishing license is required for private pond fishing.

Fishermen wanting to fish on their own will find a full array of rental gear available. Fly rods, spinning rods, waders and wading boots together with pontoon boats, fins and self-bailing rafts set up with frames will give you the flexibility to fish wherever you want to cast your line!

Guests staying in the Glacier Outdoor Center cabins are welcome to practice casting in our ponds. In addition, free casting clinics are offered weekly throughout the summer months.

Catering to and providing guided fishing trips for the visitors of beautiful Glacier Country as well as locals from Whitefish, Kalispell, Columbia Falls and the Flathead Valley, Glacier Anglers Fly Shop is truly your “one stop fly shop”! There are prime fishing waters (and countless fish) waiting for you in Glacier Country. Cast away!

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


Q. Where is the departure point for trips?
A. Our daily and multi-day fishing adventures depart from Glacier Outdoor Center, located at 12400 Hwy 2 East, West Glacier, under the giant log arch on the south side of US Highway 2, ½ mile west of West Glacier. Glacier Anglers provides transportation to and from the river.

Q. What do you fish for?
A. Our primary target is Montana’s State Fish, the westslope cutthroat trout. You also may find a rainbow or a whitefish at the end of your line. Bull trout make their home in the forks of the Flathead, but they are a protected species in this area and we don’t actively fish for them.

Q. Do I need my own equipment?
A. You are welcome to bring/use your own gear if you choose. However our guides are prepared to provide all necessary tackle and equipment. You can simply show up with the clothes on your back and we can provide the rest.

Reviews

Overall: Show Rating Distribution 5.0 / 5 based on 5 reviews

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5 of 5 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5

    Amazing - 4/25/2014
    By: from Michigan

    I was fortunate enough to meet Darwon and his team in 2010 for my very first fly fishing trip, a 4 day great bear wilderness float trip. Before I go on I want to say I have become a fly fishing junkie!! I have been back every year sense and will be back again this year for more than fishing. My 2013 trip was the best trip of all as I took both my boys for a 5 day float down the upper middle fork as a graduation present for my oldest son Cody. This trip was absolutely amazing to spend time with my sons and Darwon team. As a result of this amazing trip my son Cody has applied for a summer job at Glacier Anglers and will be working for Darwon this summer (2014). Not only were the boys absolutely stunned by the hospitality of the Glacier Anglers, but additionally awestruck by the sheer wonder of the nature around us. The guides are so knowledgeable of the river and put us on so many fish even the beginners we are caught an overabundance of cutthroat trout every day. The guides were so helpful to both my boys as they beginners and want to thank them for this. The trip will be an unforgettable trip for them but it doesn’t end there as the stories around the camp fire at night are still talked about today. Thanks Glacier Anglers and I would recommend this trip to anyone regardless if you are a beginner or expert.

  • 5/5

    Best Graduation Present Ever - 4/20/2014
    By: from Bay City, MI, USA

    For my high school graduation my dad bought me a week long trip to the upper middle fork of the Flathead River. I went with my dad, brother, uncle, and cousins. It was the BEST vacation I have ever had. Easily the best trout fishing I have ever encountered. The guides are great and very knowledgable. The guides will go to any lengths to help you with anything on the trip. The scenery is second to none. The wildlife is abundant and this area is very remote. We only saw one other person the whole trip and he was a park ranger. The food were excellent and there was a wide variety of it. Overall the experience was excellent, 5 stars.

  • 5/5

    Trip of a Lifetime! - 4/19/2014
    By: from Kalispell, MT

    I took Glacier Raft Company's Great Bear Wilderness Float Trip in July, 2013. It was the Trip of a Lifetime! The river is very technical, so I wouldn't consider taking it on with my floating equipment. The fishing was outstanding - incredible numbers of large cutthroat trout on dry flies. The guiding was excellent - each of the guides would put you over big fish with a good chance of hooking up. The service was incredible - from advice on what to take, packing the gear in, making sure the anglers had everything they needed, excellent fishing advice and pointers, camp set up, absolutely incredible food and plenty of it. The guides were excellent and extremely knowledgeable about the river, the fish, and the surrounding environment and Wilderness. Great Trip!

  • 5/5

    Great Bear Wilderness - 2/4/2014
    By: from Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

    I am an avid fly fisherman, and have had the pleasure of experiencing most of the best wilderness river trout fly/flyfishing adventures around the western US. This trip is by far the best trout fishing experience that exists in the lower 48. Due to the inaccessibility of the canyon to anyone not affiliated with Glacier Raft Company, there is so little fishing pressure, and are so many cutthroat trout, bugs on the surface just dont stand a chance, dry flies get eaten. Period. Lots of big, beautiful, healthy cutthroat trout that fight hard. The staff and guides at Glacier Raft Company are unsurpassed, from the information and reservation process, to the capable hands you and your gear are in from the mule packing of the gear and the walk/hike to the river, and the entire river trout fishing experience, the quality of the guiding is the best I have experienced yet. I will be back every summer, to do this trip again and again. Thank you Glacier

  • 5/5

    One of th emost amazing places you'll ever fish - 8/20/2012
    By:
    Staff

    Floated with John and Darwon and in a word AMAZING. The fish were eager to eat dry flies and the views are incredible.

Glacier Anglers
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitters
Darwon Stoneman
PO Box 210
West Glacier, MT 59936
800-235-6781
406-888-5454

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