As the sun crawls down into the canyon, it's not uncommon for the call of a Canada goose searching for the Nanny and her goslings to echo up and down this tight canyon, serving as a wake up call for all. As well as the frequent waterfowl viewings, elk, deer, river otters, raccoons, beaver, black bears and lots of other wildlife are commonly spotted in the Smith River Corridor.
The limestone formations that erupt out of the Smith River are awesome. Every time you tell yourself that it can't get any prettier, the next turn in the river raises the bar. The diversity of the landscape changes constantly, it varies from limestone cliffs to lush green meadows to dense pine forests continually. I'm amazed each time I go down the Smith River at the pine trees growing out of the sheer limestone cliffs horizontally over the river. This canyon has lots to offer besides excellent trout fishing, it truly is The LAST BEST PLACE!
We specialize in Montata Fly Fishing Trips but everyone is welcome on this trip and the fishing is great with fly or spinning gear. Water conditions are hard to guess on the Smith River, it’s a freestone river, meaning there are no dams. The water clarity and flow may go up or down dramatically depending on weather and Mother Nature.
In early May the water warms up enough for the fish to become active and hungry. Since they haven't seen a hook for about 9 months or so, the trout usually throw caution to the wind and are easily fooled. Some of my best guiding days ever have been in May on the Smith River! Streamers (woolly buggers and yuk bugs) and nymphs (stones, caddis and pheasant tails and the dreaded San Juan Worm) can produce big size in early May, while mayfly, caddis or sqwala hatches can give you an adrenaline rush as well if conditions are right. Being one of the veteran Montana fly fishing guides in the area, the next Montana Smith River Trip is always as exciting as the last
Mid May to June 1 is when the mysterious Salmon Fly Hatch happens. This hatch lasts 7 to 10 days and is simply an amazing cycle to witness. The large trout go nuts for these size 4 crunchy on the outside creamy on the inside floating feasts! The run off may have the river high and dirty, but unless it's blown out, the fish will be looking for the salmon fly on the surface.
Early June, water can be high and dirty but streamer fishing still produces some trout 20”+ and stonefly and mayfly hatches can produce great fishing if the river retains enough clarity. By mid June the dry fly fishing can be outstanding. A variety of stone flies hatch well into the summer.
Early and late hatches of caddis and mayflies can make it difficult for the dry fly fisherman to relax by the fire, especially when you see a guide with a rod and some soft hackles sneaking off like a lab with a T-bone! By early July the Smith is typically clear and stone fly hatches, hoppers and cicadas make the large dry flies a must. The beauty of the Smith, is that one never knows what hatch will come off next.
Each evening we round the last bend and find the cargo crew has set up another beautiful camp. Our camp sights for each night of camping are declared before we launch and each campsite comes complete with a latrine and spectacular views. The entire crew is personable and helpful; if you want something, please ask! The food is excellent and we are fortunate enough to have our Chef prepare spectacular streamside meals for us each evening. We will present a menu to you for approval before our launch date.
On our third day, we can stay at the Heaven on Earth Guest Ranch, and our hosts for the evening will be Gary Anderson and his friendly crew. It’s hard to decide what to do first when we pull the rafts up on the manicured nine hole par three golf course, but the urge for a hot shower in the modern cabins usually takes priority. After that, a cocktail on the deck of the cook cabin or a few holes of golf with your fishing partner to see who gets the front seat and first shot at tomorrow’s victims may be in order. After Gary prepares some of the finest beef you’ll eat, that modern cabin comes into play. Comfortable beds ensure a solid night’s sleep and sweet dreams. After a hearty breakfast and maybe one last shower, we’re off to enjoy the last two days of our Smith River Vacation.
As the sun sets the limestone cliffs on fire every evening, and you find a cozy chair next to the campfire, the thought of what a special place this is may cross your mind. In order to keep things the way they are, the federal and state governments have strict limits regulating how many people visit the canyon every year. These restrictions have kept human impact to a minimum and have provided a recreational opportunity that is second to none. The Smith is heavily irrigated, especially the last seven miles and by mid July we may not have enough water to do the trip. Therefore the season for the Smith River Canyon Float is Late April to mid July for us.
Due to the strict regulations, we are limited to just five launches a year. If you are interested in the Smith River Canyon Float, please contact us as soon as possible to secure your spot on the best multi-day float in America.
-Serious rain coat (I’m not kidding here, spend the money)
-Water proof boots (for around camp)
-Soap & shampoo (biodegradable)
-Light long sleeve shirts
-3 pair quick dry wading pants
-2 pair of sweat pants
-Felt wading sandals
-Sweater & fleece top
-Light weight waders
-Warm coat & hat
-9 foot #4 & #6 rods & reels
-2 sets of gloves(one water proof, one light or fingerless)
-Lots of socks(some wool)
-2 pair of polarized sun glasses(amber and brown)
-Favorite trout flies
-Extra leaders and possibly a new fly line
-Camera & lots of film or memory