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Montana: Middle Fork of the Flathead Trip Report - Picture Heavy

May 03, 23
I recently returned from my first trip to Glacier with Jake Wells, our U.S. program director. We drove up to Glacier to check out a new Yellow Dog operation in the town of West Glacier, by the name of Glacier Outdoor Center. They are most well-known for their incredible whitewater rafting program; however, they have a fly fishing outfit on the Middle and North Fork of the Flathead River. That is what we came for!

Upon arrival, we checked into our room at the main lodge, then headed out to get a feel for the entire property. While walking around, I noticed that Glacier Outdoor Center keeps its grounds extremely clean and all of their staff is very friendly. We went into their fly shop which was well-stocked with flies, rods, waders, and anything else you’d need to fish the Flathead with.

The next morning, we woke up and met our guide, Eric, and Colin who would be rowing the second raft with all of the camping gear and equipment. It was about a 30-45-minute drive to the put-in where we got ready for a two-day float. We fished with Eric for the next several hours on the clearest water I’ve ever seen in the state of Montana. The only thing I can personally compare it to is the water I’ve seen in the Caribbean – emerald green and navy blue! You could clearly see rocks at the bottom of the river in holes that were over twenty feet deep.

Plenty of westslope cutthroat was brought to the net during the first half of the day that ranged from 10-14 inches. Their colors were vibrant, yet they blended in so well with the red, green and blue rocks on the stream bed. After eating an excellent shoreside lunch and fishing for the last part of the day, we arrived in camp at around 5:00 PM. Colin had already set everything up for us, including our tents, and was preparing dinner. We sat around the fire and traded stories, passed around some scotch and watched the night sky become dotted with specks of light.

There were no sounds of passing cars, just the pitter-patter of raindrops falling on the tent that woke me up the following morning. Eric and Colin were already awake and had a large pot of coffee brewing over the campfire. After a filling breakfast, the rain commenced, the clouds parted and the sun came out in full force. We continued our float on the Middle Fork of the Flathead, casting small streamers and large dries over promising runs and pools.

Every so often we’d hook into a cutthroat trout that would put up an absolute stellar of a fight on a five-weight. Some of the battles we won and others were lost, but they were all exciting! Eric would point out waterfalls, tributaries, campgrounds, and many peaks in and around the area.

On our last night, we stayed in one of the many cabins on the Glacier Outdoor Center property. It was very clean, had a great kitchen and sitting area, and very comfortable beds. Overall the experience was terrific. In my mind, this is a great destination for families, as it offers numerous non-angling activities and it is right on top of Glacier National Park. Stay tuned for a new lodge listing on Yellow Dog's Montana page! Key Takeaways:
  • This is a terrific trip for couples and families. They offer so many different outdoor activities that there's literally something for everyone to enjoy.
  • If you're looking to do a true wilderness float trip, but don't want to be gone for more than three days, this is it.
  • This would be a great add-on to a Glacier National Park trip.
  • For business and company retreats, it doesn't get any better than this. There's a great atmosphere, plenty of cabins, the main lodge, and plenty of space for team building activities.

Interested in this trip yourself? Contact Jake Wells.