Great Bear Wilderness Fly Fishing on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River

great bear wilderness

Great Bear Wilderness Fly Fishing (Montana’s Best Kept Secret)

Few outfitters can offer a life-changing, almost spiritual fly fishing experience deep into the wilderness of Montana. Glacier Anglers is one of them. Hidden away in the Great Bear Wilderness and accessible only by plane, foot or horseback, the Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River is as untouched and pristine as any river in America. Glacier Anglers is fortunate to be the exclusive Montana river outfitter permitted to fish its waters. So sleep under the stars, eat richly, drink deeply and spend 5 days catching fish after fish from one of the healthiest populations of native Westslope cutthroat trout in the world. The experts don’t use the term loosely when they call this place a dry-fly mecca. This Great Bear Wilderness fishing trip is a Montana fly fishing and rafting experience you will treasure for a lifetime.

Featured in “Big Sky Journal”, “The Drake”, “The New York Times”


In a nation where so many of our great rivers are dammed, their flow regulated by government rather than nature, there’s a special magic about the Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River in the Great Bear Wilderness. As part of the nation’s Wild and Scenic River System, the Middle Fork is a remote, free-flowing wonder of a river. It’s very rare to see another party on the upper section and the fly fishing is phenomenal. You’ll see breathtaking scenery, experience fly fishing at its best, enjoy gourmet meals, and share tales of the day around the campfire before crawling into your tent alongside the river.

Between Glacier Park and The Bob Marshall Wilderness

In 1978, the Great Bear Wilderness was established as a corridor linking the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park. The Park and wilderness areas combined total approximately 3 million acres, one of the largest tract of protected lands in the lower contiguous United States. Flowing through the heart of this rugged and beautiful landscape, the Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River carves its way through the glacial valleys and lush forests of Northwest Montana. Years of hard fought conservation efforts have kept this the most pristine river in the nation.

What to Expect on Your Great Bear Wilderness Fishing Trip

As the summer season progresses and the river recedes near the headwaters, we access the river at a point where it is navigable via an easy trail. This scenic hike ventures through the beautiful Granite Creek valley and takes about two hours.  Once we reach the river, you’ll spend the remainder of your trip casting to native Westslope cutthroat trout and rainbow trout and camping along the Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead.

The rapids of “Spruce Park Gorge”, “Lunch Creek” and “25-Mile Creek” make this a real adventure. Trips through June experience exciting whitewater, but if you’re looking for some of the best cutthroat fishing in the northwest then it’s best to come after the first week of July through the end of August.

The Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead has a bounty of native Westslope cutthroat trout as do the high mountain lakes in this area. There’s opportunity to take a short 1½ mile hike into one of these mountain-cradled, crystal blue lakes, called Castle Lake. This lake holds Yellowstone Cutthroat that can get as big as 20 inches and weigh up to 3 lbs. On the river it’s not uncommon to pull in fish over 16 inches. You may catch something else, too – a glimpse of a deer, moose, bear, elk, mountain goat, or eagle. There’s a lot of wildlife in this backcountry.

Custom Group Great Bear Wilderness Fishing Trips

If you’re interested in an exclusive fishing trip, we can customize an itinerary for your group. We typically hold group sizes to around six. For every two customers we have one guide. Our emphasis is on providing a wonderful experience – fishing, camping, rafting, hiking and enjoying the great outdoors. Our agenda is subject to change due to trail conditions, weather, water levels and group interests. One thing is certain: you and your friends will find much to enjoy on this remote Great Bear Wilderness fishing adventure.

What to Bring to Your Great Bear Wilderness Fishing Trip

We recommend a 5 weight/9 foot rod or smaller with a weight forward floating line, several leaders (4x or 5x leaders work well), and a good variety of western trout patterns including the Chubby Chernobyl in pink or purple, Army’s Ant in natural or black, red and yellow Humpies, Royal Wulff, caddis patterns (especially the Elk Hair), Parachute Adams and Stimulators.

Although much of the fishing is from a boat, there are opportunities to wade fish as well. While the water is brisk, we recommend you leave your waders at home as it’s usually too hot in the summer to use them. Wading boots with gravel guards or river sandals work best in these wet wading conditions. If you have questions on what to bring or if you prefer to pick up gear when you arrive in Montana, we have a full service fly shop to assist you. A Montana fishing license is required prior to trip departure. You can purchase one at Glacier Outdoor Center.

This is a “wild” river and as its classification implies it should not be taken lightly. We recommend you be in good physical condition for this trip and be prepared for some breathtaking moments. You’ll leave feeling tired but rejuvenated after having spent several days deep in the heart of Montana’s most remote wilderness. Grab the opportunity!

All fishing trips depart from Glacier Outdoor Center.

A Montana Fishing License is required for Multi-Day Fly Fishing Trips. Licenses can be purchased at Glacier Outdoor Center prior to departure or online.

Due to the constraints involved with wilderness travel, we ask that you limit your baggage to 40 lbs. per person. This trip is available to adults over 16 years of age only prior to July 1, and 12 years of age after July 1.

Departs 8:30am
Trip Length 5 Days
Departure Dates July – August
*Available by request
River Rating Class III-IV
River Miles 16
Age Limit Mature 12 (dependent on water conditions)
Rates Please call for pricing
Gear Boat included
Price does not include 8% service fee or guide gratuity
Waiver Download Waiver Here
*Save time at Check-In by bringing your waiver
License Save time and purchase your license online from your computer or on any mobile device.


Montana fishing license is required and available at Glacier Outdoor Center:
$31.50 for 1-day non-resident license (includes required Montana Conservation License and State Lands License)

$73.50 for 5-day non-resident license (includes required Montana Conservation License and State Lands License)

$117.50 for season license (non-resident)


Outfitter: Jeffrey Baldelli, License #21638
PO Box 210, West Glacier, MT 59936