After fly fishing with Tom Jenni and his crew of seasoned Montana guides for several years, we are continually amazed by how many exceptionally productive blue ribbon floats there are to choose from. Our clients can select from multi-day overnight trips on the Yellowstone, Madison, Missouri, Blackfoot, Clark’s Fork and Bitterroot rivers.
Tom’s trips not only stand out for the nature of the waterways they fish, but also for their guides, equipment, work ethic and remarkable gourmet meals. Honestly, what could be finer than spending a day floating a river, catching wild trout, and then arriving at a fully prepared camp for a lavish meal of rack of lamb, grass-fed bison or wild salmon? And you can head out after you’re full and fly fish the evening hatch in front of camp until the last rays of summer light have left the water.
Camps include covered dining areas, large comfortable tents, cots, sleeping pads, and even hot showers if so desired. Truly the ultimate way to get the most fun and adventure out of a summer trip to Big Sky Country!
Reel Montana Location:
Reel Montana runs guided multi-day float trips on rivers throughout western Montana.
Reel Montana Fishing Program:
Living on our Montana rivers day after day is special- not just an opportunity to immerse yourself in fly fishing but a chance to relish the long floats, the changing light, the cool air of dawn and dusk.
July, August and September are the months that have made Montana rightfully famous. Fantastic fly fishing, clear sunny days, cool dry nights, and mild temperatures make camping the quintessential Big Sky experience. Reel Montana offers catered camping at its finest: gourmet meals, covered dining and kitchen areas, large comfortable tents, cots and sleeping pads, blazing campfires and the roar of the river. On overnight float trips on the Yellowstone, Madison, Clark Fork, or Blackfoot rivers, they break camp after you and your guide leave for the day's fly fishing and set up before you arrive in the evening, creating a float in-float out luxury that must be experienced. On the Stillwater, Missouri, or Blackfoot rivers they set up a base camp to which you return each evening.
We feel the overnighters offer the most quality time for you, your family and your friends. You will be far from phones, TV's, and computers. You can fly fish from "dawn to dusk" or spend hours parked around a campfire.
Reel Montana Fisheries:
Clark’s Fork River:
The Clark Fork River is one of the rivers on which Tom Jenni learned to fly fish and is still one of his favorites. The lower Clark Fork is big, mostly flat water, connected by relatively short riffles, and one big whitewater canyon. From Missoula downstream there is enough water and scenery (trout too!) to create a week long vacation, and never fish the same water twice.
The fish count in the lower Clark Fork sounds low compared to many of the state's better known fisheries but the rainbows and increasing cutthroat trout provide outstanding and consistent dry fly fishing. The fish tend to be in pods so there are long relatively fishless stretches; this is another river where it really helps to have a guide, even for the very experienced fisherman.
Early in the season, starting in March, there can be good stonefly hatches with both skwalas and nemouras. From the first blue-wing olives of the year there are usually some mayflies hatching on the river all the way into October, and caddis flies play another important roll, particularly in the evenings as summer progresses. The hard fighting rainbows and cutthroat in this river will often fall for hoppers or juicy attractors or they may require a little more technical skill during the incredible trico hatches of August.
The Bitterroot is a classic Montana stream and ribbons through a long valley lined with cottonwoods and shouldered by the Bitterroot Range. A typical float trip will include plenty of wade fishing opportunities in many of the runs and side-channels. Nestled in western Montana's gorgeous Bitterroot Valley, the river has a very different character than its neighbors in the Missoula valley, the much larger Clark Fork and the rougher Blackfoot. The "Root" is a riffle-pool river winding through cottonwood flats and gentle drops, over mostly gravelly bottoms, past lots of fishy-looking deadfall.
The Bitterroot offers some unbelievable early season dry fly action in March and April as big trout rise to the large and apparently very tasty skwala stonefly. Ten years ago this was a virtually undiscovered fishing opportunity which has now received some national attention and a corresponding increase in fishing pressure. But if you have the early season fishing bug here is a chance to see some big trout come up and eat in a slow but confident manner.
Yellowstone River: Fly fishing opportunities on the Yellowstone River offer well over one hundred miles of great trout water outside Yellowstone National Park. It is the longest free-flowing (un-dammed) river in the US and has a multitude of moods from the stormy Yankee Jim Canyon above, to eastern Montana cottonwood bottoms below.
There is enough water here that a two week vacation wouldn't let you fish it all, and thus a guide can be particularly useful. A fly fishing float trip through the Paradise Valley section is a classic with slow-rising Yellowstone cutthroat trout and unforgettable views of the mountainous Yellowstone country. The Yellowstone River has brown, rainbow, and of course Yellowstone cutthroat trout, and it is not unusual to catch all three in a day. It offers great spring nymphing with big-uglies like Yuk bugs, buggers, and bitch creek nymphs. It has the potential for truly mind-blowing days in late April and early May with the Mother's Day caddis hatch, an event so intense that usually both fish and fishermen get overwhelmed. There is good attractor fishing after run-off (usually early July) and great hopper fishing during the heat of August. The seasons of the Yellowstone wind up with fall excitement when we throw juicy streamers for big browns.
Madison River: Montana's Madison is one of the legendary fly fishing rivers in the US and many fly fishermen make a pilgrimage here before they feel they have really fished the west. From Quake Lake to Ennis is the "50 mile riffle" and some more varied water too. This part of the river is probably best known for the giant salmonfly which can produce some spectacular fishing. The hatch is in late June and early July but the nymphs are available to the trout year-round so an imitation of this food form is a consistent producer. A variety of caddis fly species call the Madison home so from the first hatches in May they can be the key to successful fishing.
The lower Madison river between Ennis and Three Forks is a Bozeman local favorite. It fishes best early and late, from March through early July and then again in the fall. The edges of the many large weed beds can produce great fishing with blue-winged olives on drizzly days. If you are willing to get up bright and early and be done shortly after the sun hits the water, you can fish right through the summer. There are fewer fish here than in the more famous upper river but your chances of hooking a hog are probably better. The Mother's Day caddis hatch can be so thick that it looks like fog.
Reel Montana Accommodations and Meals:
Your hosts will set up a comfortable camp each night. Each day the bag boater will make their way down river to have camp set up by the time you arrive. Tom Jenni will provide your tent as well as all other camping gear.
*Note: Please bring your own sleeping bag.
Tom Jenni’s staff offer catered camping at its finest: gourmet meals, covered dining and kitchen areas, large comfortable tents, cots and sleeping pads, blazing campfires and the roar of the river. On overnight float trips on the Yellowstone, Madison, Clark Fork, or Bitterroot, they break camp after you and your guide leave for the day's fishing and set up before you arrive in the evening, creating a float-in / float-out luxury that must be experienced.
In order to properly plan for your trip, please be sure and notify us of any dietary needs or food allergies as well as any other heath issues that could lead to an acute emergency (i.e. heart conditions, diabetes, and bee sting allergies). When on the river, you might be several hours from the nearest professional medical help.
Beer, wine and a bar are included and supplied on the trip. Beer is always cans of cheap stuff to have available on the river. Wine is good but not great ($10-18 a bottle type of wine)…matching the meals...if you have a beverage of choice please let us know ahead of time so they can adjust their stock. The bar is complete with a bottle each of scotch, bourbon, gin, vodka along with mixers.
Day 1: Arrive Bozeman, MT and overnight.
Day 2: Put on river. Full day of floating/fishing.
Days 3-5: Full days of guided fishing
Day 6: Float / fish all day. At end of day transfer to Bozeman and overnight.
Day 7: Depart Bozeman.
After spending five days with Tom, it was an excellent suggestion and recommendation. We chose a day trip for the first day, followed by three days and two nights on the river, and a final day trip for the five fishing days. Both Tom Jenni and Mike Spence are excellent guides, willing to change flies and tactics as the day developed. Mike Spence is passionate about his profession and willing to go that extra mile of rowing to catch fish for clients. Every meal with Tom is an experience to enjoy. If he was not guiding, he could easily operate a fine restaurant in the Missoula area. Tom is one of the best outdoor cooks that our group has ever seen. Shore lunches were not the usual sandwiches bought from a gas station. Tom provides a wide variety of meals, from Chicken Caesar Salad (with optional anchovy) to grilled brats. The dinner meals are superb, with a main course the second night of lamb chops, done perfectly on the grill, followed up by a modified Banana Foster's (without the ice cream). This was the big surprise of the trip - great food! Overall, this was top-notch fishing for this time on year in western Montana. We would highly recommend this outfitter, Tom Jenni.” S.C., MN
2019 Rate: $1,575 per person for a 2 night/3 day float trip
Included: Camp accommodations and meals on the river, guided fishing, flies, dry bags, camping gear (except sleeping bags), transportation to and from hotel to river and back, alcohol, beer and wine
Not Included: Airfare, accommodations and meals in Bozeman or Missoula (depending upon itinerary), sleeping bag, fishing licenses, gratuities
Species: Rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout
Season: July – September
Capacity: 4 – 18 anglers
Map: Bozeman, MT
Time: The time in Montana is Mountain Daylight Time.