The Appalachian Fly Fisher

The Appalachian Fly Fisher
Appalachian Fly Fisher – Group trips for eastern fly fishers, fly fishing equipment, flies, rods, reels, lines, rivers, exciting fishing destinations, practical tips and save BIG!

Where, When, How & What of Fly Fishing

Where, When, How & What of Fly Fishing
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Here is the scoop. We will also be going on some shorter side trips this summer as well. They will be posted here. If you live in Montana, Idaho or Washington state, you may want to contact for details. You'll meet some really great fellow fishers!
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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Ride The Bull (River That Is)

The Bull River, Montana

The Bull River is a real jewel! High in a beautiful mountain valley above and between the Kootenai and Clark Fork rivers lays a mountain lake of indescribable grandeur. Situated in the Cabinet Mountain Range in Lincoln County Montana is Bull Lake. Spring fed and without a dam and naturally flowing into the Kootenai River, you would naturally think it is the headwaters for the Bull River. Well it is not. The river is actually a very deep, meandering naturally spring fed waterway arising in the mountains just west of Bull Lake. I do not know the exact depth, but locals say it is in excess of forty feet in points despite the fact the average width is only about fifty feet and it sports many shallow riffles.
Bull Cutty caught on a Brown Drake 6/14/2011

The Bull flows for about twenty-five mile due south and ends in the Clark Fork River at the junction of highways 56 & 200 and the Bull River Kootenai National Forest Campground. This is a beautiful stretch of river, but I must caution the last four to six miles is steep and treacherous. This lower section is not really floatable unless you are and expert kayaker. From where the lower section begins at highway 200 and almost up to the lake, there are several access points. Pitch is very gradual after milepost 6 and it is easy to row. Fishing in the spring is in this middle section can be incredible! There are some huge browns and nice cutthroat as well.
I own a twelve foot, two person raft in which I love to use in this river. My wife rows and I fish. Who could ask for a better arrangement? By the way, I bought my raft from Kootenai Valley Inflatables for a lot less than other outfitters and the quality is excellent. Anyway, back to the float. I recommend putting in at the canoe access about milepost 11.5 and float to the eight mile bridge. DO NOT USE THE MORE NORTHERN ACCESS I PREVIOUSLY SUGGESTED AT MILEPOST IN MY POST "BULL RIVER HOGS". IT IS NOT SAFE AT ONE POINT JUST PAST THE MILEPOST 12.5 HIGHWAY 56 BRIDGE. As much meandering as the river does, I would guess the actual float I like is about 5-6 miles and takes a good 4-5 hours to float from the canoe access. The flow is mostly slow here, but it makes for good, easy fly fishing. The take out at the 8 mile bridge is very easy and I can easily reload my raft directly onto my trailer.

The Brown Drake hatch is unbelievable in the spring. Insects are huge (size 6-10) and the trout are ravenous. The Bull is predominately known for its huge brown trout, but I have personally seen large schools of bull trout weighing on the average five pounds and perhaps more. I have also caught some really nice cutthroat trout in the 16-20 inch range and an occasional nice rainbow. The fishing seems to slow down in the summer with less prolific hatches, but fish can be had. If you see one other boat while you fish there, I would be very surprised. Out-of-the way and a little hard to find, this is really a great spring fly fishing river. Find highway 56 going north off scenic highway 200 along the Clark Fork River just 10 miles east from where it crosses into Idaho. The Bull parallels highway 56. If you can find no other person with whom to fish, call or email me. I will definitely go with you. 
Don’t forget, in the US bull trout are endangered and must be released as soon as caught. You cannot deliberately fish for a bull trout either, but if you do accidently catch one measure quickly, photograph and release quickly. Do not miss fishing this river if you are ever in western Montana in the spring. Now check out our most recent post "Bull River Hogs" for suggested fishing access points and flies. 
Tags: Idaho Fly Fishers Association
          Idaho Fly

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