(Information provided by the US
River travels almost due north for 66 miles through the
beautiful Swan Valley. The valley is
almost perfectly U-shaped with the Mission Mountains
hemming the valley on the west side and the Swan Range
Mountains on the east. The valley is heavily forested
and home to grizzly bears, mountain lions, eagles,
zillions of deer and, of course, trout! Despite its proximity to major tourist attractions like
Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, most of the
Swan River only receives light fishing pressure. The
river is simply overlooked.
The only road in or out of
the valley is Highway 83. Ironically, the highway
never crosses the river and the river is out of sight.
Access to the river is by several roads that cross the
river at fairly even intervals. The majority of the
river bottom passes through private land but if you have
a good map you can find scattered areas of public land.
By mid-summer the river can be waded. Experienced
canoeist can navigate the lower few miles but the rest
of the river has log jams.
Anglers can catch rainbow trout and cutthroat trout,
although seldom are these fish “trophy size”. Small
brook trout are also occasionally caught. From Piper
Creek Bridge downstream to Swan Lake, it is catch and
release fishing only. Above Piper Creek Bridge,
standard regulations apply and the angler is encouraged
to release cutthroat.
are 53 named tributaries to Swan River and all offer
cold, crystal clear waters. Most of the tributaries are
on public land or Plum Creek Timber Company (which
allows the public to fish on their lands). The
tributaries have good fishing for brook trout and
cutthroat trout. It is safe to say that many of the
fish have never seen a hook before. The
Swan River valley is famous for its large bull trout
population. These big, aggressive trout hatch in
tributary streams, grow big in Swan Lake and then return
to the streams to spawn. Anglers may keep one bull
trout per day in Swan Lake. All bull trout caught in
the river or streams must be released immediately. To
protect bull trout four streams are closed year-round,
namely Elk, Lion, Goat and Squeezer Creeks. Be sure
you can identify your catch!
Fishing Regulations: (as of 02/2004)
Creek Bridge to Swan Lake
Catch-and-release for cutthroat trout and rainbow
Artificial lures only.
Lake to the Highway 35 Bridge
Catch-and-release for cutthroat
to angling within a 100-yard radius of Woodward
Creek June 1 through August 30.