Leave civilization behind on this 60-mile Smith River fishing adventure, which descends a stunning limestone canyon in Montana’s Big Belt Mountains. The Smith is the only river in Montana where all river travelers must have a permit, and for good reason. The scenery, fishing, birding, archeology, geology, and history are arguably some of the most interesting in the lower 48. While meandering along the curves and eddies of the Smith, we will discuss the adventures of Lewis and Clark’s expedition and the history of the Blackfeet Indians, all travelers in the Smith River ecosystem.
Difficulty: Easy, Family Friendly
Trip Date: One trip per year
June 17th, 2020 — FULL June 30th, 2021 June 29th, 2022
Trip Duration: 5 Days
Price Adult and Child: $4,400 per angler; $260/day single supplement for 1:1 angler-guide ratio
Smith River Fishing
The Smith River is one of Montana’s premiere rainbow and brown trout fisheries. It’s also unique in that it is only floatable by permit. Smith River State Park has one put-in point (Camp Baker) and one take-out point (Eden Bridge) for the entire 59-mile stretch. The river is accessible only by non-motorized watercraft, including; rafts, canoes, kayaks and drift boats.
The Smith River’s unequaled beauty boasts outstanding trout habitat. We typically fish from drift boats, ensuring no more than 2 anglers per guide. Enjoy the sounds of the river as you fish with our experienced guides. Whenever angling new waters, experienced guides are important, and ours are some of the best in the West. All supplies, equipment, and tackle are provided for guests. You’ll just need a Montana fishing license!
Smith River Wildlife and Bird Watching
Whether you’re an angler or not, this Smith River fishing adventure is the experience of a lifetime! Birders and photographers will be on the figurative edge of the raft, as this area is known for wildlife and fowl watching. We often see mountain lion, black bear, bobcat, wolverine, flying squirrel, otter, beaver, mergansers, osprey, belted kingfishers, dippers, killdeer, American redstarts, yellow warblers, ruffed grouse, hawks, owls, common raven, swifts, hummingbirds, pileated woodpeckers, chickadees, Swainson’s thrush, varied thrush … the list goes on and on.
Smith River Hiking
We usually arrive at the campsite around 4:00pm each day, so you will have an opportunity to explore around camp or do a short hike while your guides are setting up camp and preparing delicious meals. You can look for wildlife, head up to the canyon rim for a view from above, or explore Native American archeological sites.
Smith River Itinerary
We meet in Great Falls, Montana, at 7:00 AM and then shuttle to the Camp Baker put-in where our river adventure begins! We’ll fish hard every day that we’re on the river. Each day while we’re fishing, we’ll talk a little bit about the Smith, and what it makes it so special. Today’s topics might include river safety, general fishing, wilderness preservation, Montana State Parks, and the United States Forest Service.
Days Two, Three and Four
Anglers will love the 10 – 20 inch rainbow and brown trout in this spectacular fishery. We will keep our binoculars at hand while checking off the bird species that frequent this migration path. Aquatic ecology and fish species might be part of our conversations as our float continues.
More fishing, of course! Today’s conversations include the future of habitat preservation and public lands use. We will have our final lunch on the river, say our goodbyes, and return to Great Falls by 5:00pm.
Smith River Notes
Included: Transportation to and from Great Falls; gourmet meals from our lunch on Day 1 through our lunch on Day 5; deluxe camping (including tents, air mattresses, sleeping bags, and camp lounge chairs); and of course, our expert fly fishing guides and their dories. Questions about what’s provided? Here’s a list of what to bring.
I would like to make comment on my recent trip to the Smith River. You and your people have ruined fishing for me as I will never be able to go on a trip without comparing it to this trip. The food was great, Jennifer did an excellent job. Irv was great and very helpful. We spend every moment of the day in search of satisfaction trying not to waste any along the way. Not one moment was wasted on the Smith River. Thank you all for a wonderful experience. -Tom F.
Irv Heitz and Jennifer Buls are by far the best Guides / Camp crew that I have ever experienced. They are exceptionally competent, congenial, and professional. Don’t let Irv retire. You have a couple of hall of fame employees! -Steve K.
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Although we always hope for perfect weather — and sometimes get it! — keep in mind that it can rain, sleet, hail, and snow any day of the year on the Smith! You’ll want a quality rain jacket and waders, wading boots and sandals, quick dry layers, warm vest, shorts and fishing pants, long sleeved fishing shirts, warm socks, polarfleece or wool hat, cold weather gloves, fingerless gloves, and a cozy camp jacket and pants, even in July.
PACKING YOUR GEAR
We provide all the camping gear that you will need on the Smith River, such as large, 4 person tents, cots, and sleeping bags. You may also wish to bring a small inflatable pillow, a quick dry towel and wash cloth, small toilet kit, flashlight/headlamp with extra batteries, and alcoholic beverages. Please pack these items in a soft duffel that we can repack into a dry bag.
For your day to day needs on the river, bring a waterproof daypack. Day to day needs might include rain gear, jacket, camera with extra battery, binoculars, polarized sunglasses with retention strap, insect repellant, large wide brim hat, and sunscreen.
We provide all the rods and flies that you will need on the Smith River. If you’d like to bring your own gear, that’s great! Do keep in mind that space is limited on any river trip.
GRATUITIES Since we will be far from our main office in West Glacier, you may wish to plan ahead if you desire to leave the crew a cash gratuity.