Hell and High Water – Fishing at Mission Lake

Fly Fishing Mission Lake’s Spring Spawn In Extreme Conditions

No one said it would be easy, but life threatening?  It’s just a fish. Yea, a really big fish, but is it worth risking your life? My buddy John would say absolutely, he’d do just about anything to hook another one of those legendary Mission Lake Rainbows.

Windy day on Mission Lake - Montana

Be Prepared for Extreme Weather

The Blackfeet Reservation and the many lakes within its borders hold some of the largest Rainbow and Brown trout in the Lower 48 and in the early spring the fish will move in along the shore in a futile attempt to spawn.

“Montana fishing can be out of this world.”

Keep in mind the Blackfeet Reservation sits along the easter border of the Rocky Mountain Front and Glacier National Park. Here the weather can be extreme.

On this particular day, we arrived at Mission Lake to manageable winds of 15-20 knots. By the time we were geared up and ready to fish the wind was blowing a consistent 40 to 45 mph. This is a good sign to either pack it up and go home or wait it out. We had come a long way to catch fish and John was in no mood to wait.

So he waded in.

Fighting the tail end of a cold, I used my better judgment and decided to watch and take photos. I have never seen someone so determined to catch a fish.

  Cross body cast      Battling the waves

At times, 3′ swells would lift John off his feet in mid cast as he struggled to keep his balance and present his fly in the direction of deeper water and cruising fish.

It was mostly comical, but also inspiring.

John patiently fished for over an hour before succumbing to the chills and facing the inevitable. He never caught a fish, but he did earn my respect.


If your going to fish the Blackfeet Reservation for the chance at a “Fish of a Lifetime”, you will have to bring your “A” game and plenty of resolve. The weather can be extreme, but if you love a challenge and the great outdoors, like we do, you have to be willing to take the good with the bad and persevere.

Visit my Blog: Five tips for Fishing the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Extreme weather

Remember: You don’t catch fish if your fly isn’t in the water!

Be sure to have plenty of warm clothing and multiple layers. Bring extra clothing as well. Just in case.

Be safe, good luck and may the “Fishing Gods” be with you!

Book the StoneHouse at Duck Lake for your next fishing adventure!

(406) 250-9415


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