Tips for Fly Fishing the Blackfeet Reservation in Extreme Conditions

Simple and Helpful Tips

Fishing the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in NW Montana is not for the faint of heart. At times the weather can be extreme, but the reward is usually the best fishing you have ever had.

Even when the weather is good it is always best to be prepared for the worst.

We like to say, “If you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes.”

Here are a few tips to make your fly fishing adventure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Have The Right Clothing

David Walburn catching big trout on Mission Lake, Montana

It may be sunny and 55 degrees but with wind comes the chill factor. With a 15-20 mph wind, 55* may feel more like 35*, especially when standing waist deep in water.

It’s easy to get chilled. Waders are not enough protection. Wear multiple layers. Here is a quick list of clothing I always bring with me even during the warmer summer months.

  • Thin Polo pro long underwear
  • Heavier pair of fleece or insulated pants (second layer if needed)
  • Three layers of shirts with extra fleece pull-over sweater
  • Wool socks and liner (plus extra pair)
  • Wool Hat
  • Gore-tex jacket with hood (very important for protection from the wind and insulation)
  • Water proof rubber gloves (I like the ones with the ability to cover exposed fingers when necessary)
  • Polarized sun glasses

Casting in the Wind

The wind does blow on the east side of the Divide and it will be important for you to learn how to manage the wind when casting and use it to your advantage.

  • Try to position yourself so the wind is at your back whenever possible. At times this may mean moving to an opposite shore line. Keep your backcast short and let the wind to most of the work.
  • If you have a cross wind coming from your casting arm side, it’s important to learn who to cast across your body so the fly passes in front of you and not to the outside of your casting arm. You won’t be able to cast as far, but it will keep the wind from pushing the fly into your body.

Cross body cast

  • Shorten your cast and keep the number of false cast to a minimum. It’s a long day of casting…

Have the Right Attitude

What I love most about Montana and the east side are the “extremes.” Everything is bigger and more intense on the east side.

When fishing the Blackfeet Reservation it is important to have the right attitude and perspective. At times you will have to deal with wind and rain or even snow, but that’s what makes the adventure more real and the rewards more significant.

One of my best days ever was fishing Duck Lake in a spring snow storm that dumped 6″ of snow in less than an hour. The wind was blowing the snow sideways across the lake. By the time the storm passed and the sun came out again, I landed over 40 fish. It’s an experience I will never forget.

Always Check the Weather Forecast

With internet access and global wireless phone service, there is no reason not to keep up with the current weather forecast. Some of the best fishing can be just before and during a storm, so it’s best to know what’s heading your way and if it’s going to be safe and productive. There is cell and wi-fi service at the StoneHouse.

Consider Hiring an Experienced Guide

Dave Parson's with large rainbow-Four Horn lake

As a non-native, I am not permitted to guide on the reservation, but we are happy to assist you in a self-guided fishing or bird hunting trip. I always suggest that if you are new to the area, hire an experienced Blackfeet guide. I recommend Dave Parsons (aka Buckskin) of Cut Bank Creek Outfitters.

He has fished and hunted the reservation his entire life and knows the area like the back of his hand. Regardless of the weather, Dave’s vast knowledge can keep you safe while providing the perfect Montana experience!

Provide a Safety Net

Some areas are more remote than others, but it’s always best to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.

Stay at the StoneHouse

After a hard day of fishing or hunting, there is nothing better than hanging out with friends in the warmth and security of the StoneHouse recounting the day’s adventures.

Guest in Kitchen-StoneHouse at Duck Lake

Call or email to book the StoneHouse for your next east side adventure!

David Walburn



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