The South Fork Flathead River originates
at the confluence of Danaher and Youngs creeks in the
Bob Marshall Wilderness Area and flows north, unimpeded
for over half its length. Noted for the extreme beauty
of its setting and course, the South Fork runs its first
40 miles within the Bob Marshall between the Continental
Divide on the east and the Swan Range on the west. From
its headwaters to the Spotted Bear River, it is
classified a Wild River under the National Wild and
Scenic Rivers Act.
Access to float the South Fork
requires quite a commitment—packing in gear by foot or
horseback for 20 miles to begin this wilderness float
and the same when the ride is finished. The beauty,
fishing, and serenity of the float make it worth the
effort. Many backpackers and horse parties enjoy
portions of the river as well. An abrupt change in the
river results from
Hungry Horse Dam, 5 miles above the
mouth, which creates the 35-mile-long Hungry Horse
Reservoir. Completed in 1952, the dam has served two
oppositional purposes for the fisheries of the South
Fork—blocking upstream fish migrations from
Lake and effectively isolating the drainage from that
fishery, while above the dam maintaining the most intact
native fish ecosystem remaining in western Montana.
Fishing Regulations: The standard
fishing regulations for the fishing district(s) apply.
Please check your copy of the regulations, or visit the
site(s) linked above for more information.
- Exceptions: All Waters Upstream From Hungry Horse Dam, Including Hungry Horse Reservoir
And Tributaries Except Meadow Creek Section (See Below)
- Combined Trout: 3 daily and in possession, no fish over 12 inches in rivers
and streams. Includes rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and grayling.
- Mainstem Upstream From Hungry Horse Reservoir (From Crossover Boat Ramp
South And Upstream To The Confluence Of Youngs And Danaher Creeks)
- Bull trout: catch-and-release from the third Saturday in May through August
15. A Hungry Horse/South Fork Flathead Bull Trout Catch Card must be in
possession when fishing for bull trout. See Special License requirements for
application information. All bull trout must be released immediately. It is
unlawful to possess a live bull trout for any reason.
- Meadow Creek Bridge To Spotted Bear Foot Bridge And Tributaries
- Catch-and-release only.
- Artificial lures only.
- Hungry Horse Dam Downstream To Devil's Elbow And Tributaries
- Closed entire year.
- Devil's Elbow Downstream To Mouth And Tributaries
- Catch-and-release for cutthroat trout.
- Extended season for whitefish and catch-and-release for trout open December
1 to third Saturday in May with artificial lures and/or maggots only.