December 1, 2022

Experience Montana’s Best Fly-Fishing at Spotted Bear Ranch

Powerful bull trout and dancing cutthroats abound in this unique mountain paradise

HUNGRY HORSE, Mont. (March 29, 2021) — Spotted Bear Ranch, Montana’s premier Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing lodge, is currently offering a number of lodge-based packages and one backcountry fishing package in 2021. Ideally located on the world-famous Southfork river, Spotted Bear’s fishing packages will begin the end of May as streams and rivers fill their banks with snowmelt, and insect hatches greet the warming sun. And no place in the entire state offers better bull trout fishing than Spotted Bear Ranch – one of the few places in the lower 48 states where you can legally fish for this unique species.

The bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) is a char of the family Salmonidae native to northwestern North America. Reclassified as a separate species from the Dolly Varden in 1980, bull trout were listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1999 throughout its limited range in the contiguous United States. It is used as a management indicator in several national forests. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, bull trout populations have been negatively impacted by the combined effects of a variety of factors, including habitat degradation and fragmentation, blockage of migration corridors, poor water quality, past fishery management practices, and the introduction of non-native species. Although this may be true, the species is abundant in the areas fished at Spotted Bear ranch.

Beginning in late June, Spotted Bear lodge drift boats head out in search of bull trout. Experience has taught the experienced guides where the fish like to stage before heading to their spawning grounds. Bull trout grow large, and once hooked will dive deep into the current and race upriver, the boat’s oarsman straining to keep up as line screams off your reel. Once subdued, the bull trout must be carefully released back into the current.

As summer days lengthen and daytime temperatures rise, so, too, does Montana’s official state fish, the Westslope cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi. What these beautiful dainty fish lack in size – their average length is 8-12 inches, with an 18-incher a true monster – they make up for in acrobatic aerobatic jumps and hard runs. They readily attack dry flies and topwater bugs, requiring anglers to have a quick wrist and sharp eye, as well as the ability to properly cast and mend their fly line. The waters fished by Spotted Bear Ranch clients are loaded with this highly-prized trout, which can be taken both from a drift boat or hiking along the riverbank.

This season, Spotted Bear Ranch is offering two different fishing experiences — lodge-based and wilderness fishing. Lodge-based packages are typically 3- and 5-day trips, blending gorgeous float fishing and fantastic walk or wade opportunities. Lodge trips are fully inclusive, with lodging, chef-prepared meals, beer and wine, daily maid service, and all your guided activities included. If you aren’t tired after 8-9 hours of guided fly-fishing, the lodge and cabins are conveniently situated within a hundred yards of the river, so you can always go catch more fish at any time! All fishing is catch-and-release, and all equipment is included in the packages – though of course you can bring your own if you prefer. And while fly-fishing is the most common method, spin fishermen are welcome, too.

In 2021, one wilderness fishing trip has availability, with six spots currently open from July 1-6. Cost is $6000/person, all inclusive. All-inclusive three day/four night and five day/six-night lodge-based trips cost $2700 and $4200 per person, respectively; contact the lodge for available dates.

With a full staff of highly experienced fly-fishing guides and backcountry outfitters, Spotted Bear Ranch remains the ultimate place to disconnect and spend uninterrupted time with family, friends and nature. It’s a place where you feel at home, where memories are made, and old-time outdoor traditions live on. The Spotted Bear staff is ready to provide a number of world-class amenities to help give you a once in a lifetime experience. It’s a blend of the old and the new, with unmatched wilderness to explore, but all the modern conveniences at the lodge, including Wi-Fi, laundry service, world-class chef-prepared meals, and a bar where you can find a wine and spirits menu that we know you will love.

Come join our family and explore an unspoiled part of Montana with us! Space is limited so book your adventure soon. For more information, visit, or call us at (406) 270-5235.

About Spotted Bear Ranch
Spotted Bear Ranch is a full service fly-fishing and hunting lodge nestled in the middle of a 2+ million-acre wilderness complex located in the Flathead National Forest near the confluence of the South Fork of the Flathead River and the Spotted Bear River. It is a 3x Orvis endorsed Expedition of the Year Lodge and an Orvis endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge and uniquely, it is one of the only places in the lower 48 to offer a legal season on the threatened, native bull trout.

In addition to the six private guest cabins that overlook the South fork of the Flathead River, this premier lodge offers backcountry wilderness expeditions for fishing. For those that prefer hunting, The Spotted Bear Ranch also offers backcountry hunts for trophy elk and mule deer hunting.