Jefferson River Fishing Report

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The Jefferson River is an important part of a system of rivers that combine to form the majestic Missouri. Starting at the confluence of the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers near Twin Bridges, Montana, it winds 77 miles in a northeasterly fashion to Three Forks. Here, it meets with the Madison and Gallatin rivers that together converge into the Missouri River at the Missouri Headwaters State Park. Like so many other rivers in Montana, the Jefferson, named by Clark in honor of the U.S. President, runs deep with history. In fact, the Jefferson River is a segment of the larger Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, administered by our National Park Service.
 
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When thinking about the Jefferson, a Class 1 river for recreational enjoyment, most observers view the river in three distinct sections. Characterized by slow, meandering flows, the upper third works its way through a broad, arid valley. Along this braided, 44 mile long floodplain, you will encounter working farms, dense cottonwood stands, flowered meadows and a variety of wildlife until you reach the town of Cardwell. Throughout the next 15 miles, its waters flow through a narrow, steep canyon where the water can be deep, slow and contained. As a result, the stretch from Cardwell to the Sappington Bridge has comparatively fewer trees, swamps, meadows and wildlife.
 
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At Sappington Bridge the river once again becomes a circuitous, rambling river, rich in swamp life, colorful fields, large cottonwood groves and productive agricultural land. The presence of significant agriculture has resulted in competition for water use. During dry years, the river was tapped generously for irrigation, dropping water levels to the point where fish populations were adversely affected. Recent improvement in riparian management has tended to alleviate these issues. Primarily known as a brown trout river, rainbows, mountain whitefish, burbot and northern pike can also be found here. Less well known and less discovered, the Jefferson offers the opportunity to catch large fish in a scenic, un-crowded environment.
 
Tributaries:
Beaverhead, Big Hole and Boulder Rivers
Source:
Twin Bridges, Montana, at confluence of Beaverhead, Big Hole and Ruby Rivers
Mouth:
Three Forks, Montana, at confluence of Missouri River
Length:
83 miles
Basin:
9,532 sq miles
Seasonal Conditions
Season
Temperature
Hatches
Spring
36 - 63
 F
Short pre-runoff season; by mid April large streamers draw large big browns in undercuts
Summer
45 - 76
 F
Water clears; streamers, Golden Stones and nocturnal stonefly hatches
Fall
22 - 43
 F
Water warms; banks line with grasshoppers
Winter
17 - 39
 F
Guide Reports
Jeff looks great nice and clear, but lots of free floating miss. Which is a huge pain in the neck especially when your trying to strip streamers There are a few hoppers and the midnight ... morestones are starting to show up. Which makes dries an attractive alternative. When you can get them to eat em. Recent cool weather (snow in the mountains) has dropped water temps from low 70s to low 60s jump starting the fish at least until it warms up again.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Wednesday, 13 Jul, 2016
Fish Caught:
13-19 fish
Jefferson went from high and brown to low and mossy in the space of about two weeks. It's way to early for these conditions. Fish are still eating early but you picking up moss on ... moreevery cast even on dries. In my opinion the Jeff is out for now
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Monday, 4 Jul, 2016
Fish Caught:
0 fish
The lower beaver head is starting to clear up at twin bridges, and so goes the Jefferson. We fished there two days ago and fishing was good. Nice part about the day was that we didn't ... moresee another angler all day. Water is still high but is clean. Fish were tight on the banks and in the soft recirculating pools. Fishing was on and off we would catch 3 nice fish then nothing for an hour. I saw some midnight stone empty cases on the bridge abutments which means dry fly fishing isn’t far off. Also saw some fish working caddis but we never switched over. Water is falling and the time is now! Eric Shores
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Thursday, 16 Jun, 2016
Fish Caught:
9-12 fish
Blown. May get a little clarity with colder temps last two days but not for long. At least three weeks, maybe four depending on weather
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Saturday, 16 Apr, 2016
Sounded like a great idea this morning going fishing on the Jefferson River. Fished Hells Canyon to Silver Star at lunch time. Water was moderately clear. Got caught in the winds gusting ... moreto 30 mph. It was not all that great. Had to chase my hat twice. Got three fish on buggars. No hatches, only streamer fishing.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Thursday, 10 Mar, 2016
Fish Caught:
1-3 fish
The weather has switched back to cold and snow for the next week so watch out for the ice. I would sleep in and fish between 11-4 when it is the warmest. You will be the most successful ... morewith Nymphs, Worms and Eggs. You can also try some streamers with a dead drift and a slow strip.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Tuesday, 15 Dec, 2015
Fish Caught:
1-3 fish
The ice is making the Jefferson River difficult and dangerous to fish which makes it not the optimal river to fish in the winter time. If working the Jefferson, Numphing will have ... morethe most success.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Tuesday, 1 Dec, 2015
The weather is making things tougher. It's getting to be the time of year to fish your nymph rod. The browns are spawning and when they wrap up they will be looking for their winter ... moreholding areas.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Sunday, 15 Nov, 2015
Fish Caught:
1-3 fish
Fishing Trips
On its way to the Missouri Headwaters, the Jefferson River passes through an assorted landscape. At the town of Twin Bridges the Ruby River, Beaverhead River and Big Hole River converge ... moreto form the Jefferson. In its early stages the river advances past hay fields, large stands of cottonwood and agricultural landscapes. As the river reaches the town of Cardwell, the Jefferson is then flanked by large canyon walls, home to Lewis and Clark Caverns. Downstream of the canyon the river again proceeds through farm and ranchland laced with cottonwood trees until joining the Madison and Gallatin rivers. Though fishing on the Jefferson can be less consistent than on some of our other rivers, it can certainly make up for it with some very special moments. When the Jefferson is good, it can be great!
  • Transportation to and from the river (dependent on which river is fished)
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunch
  • Expert "Chuck and Duck" instruction from a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide
You know how big fish got to be big fish? By eating little fish. Are you a hog hunter looking for the right stretch to fish and what piece of meet to throw? Or have you just seen these ... morehuge flies in the shop and wanna learn a thing a two? Either way MFFT is here for you. You can't just throw a wooly bugger and hope for the best. There are numerous books based solely on different streamer techniques. Why? Because these techniques have been proven to catch quality trout. However, there is no guarantee in fishing. Especially a big fish guarantee. We are here to help increase your chances of catching big fish, not only on your trip but forever, by teaching you techniques learned throughout extensive guide careers. *The location of this trip will be decided by the guide based the quality of streamer fishing on his last few trips
Destination:
  • Transportation to and from the river (depending on which river is chosen)
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunch
  • Excellent instruction on nymph fishing from a knowledgable and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide!
We all know how to catch the most fish--nymphing. After all, nymphs account for over 80% of a fishes diet. But there is more to it than just flopping a bobber out there, much more. ... moreFor example, how far up your leader do you want to put that indicator? How much weight should you use? How often should you change your nymph rig? And that is just scratching the surface. Come with us on a fun filled day learning how to increase your success rate with nymphs! *The location of this trip will be decided by the guide based on the quality of nymph fishing on his last few trips
Destination:
  • Transportation to and from the river (dependent on which river is fished)
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunch
  • Expert dry fly instruction from a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide
Are you sick of throwing bobbers and wanna try something new? Already throw dry flies but would like to hone your skills? Pretty darn good just want to be pointed in the right direction ... moreand given some bug recommendations but also there with a net when you need it? We can accommodate all skill levels on our dry fly only trips. We can explain how, what and where to fish something that doesn't look like a dodgeball at the top of your leader :) *The location of this trip will be decided by the guide based the quality of dry fly fishing on his last few trips
Destination:
  • Transportation to and from the river (dependent on river being fished.)
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunch on each river
  • A three river adventure with a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide!
Variety is the spice of life, right? Well, that's where our 3 Rivers in 3 Days comes in because that's exactly what you'll be doing, fishing three different rivers in three days! With ... moreour choice of 4 world class rivers, our guides will know what rivers to fish on which days to maximize your chances for success. Don't blink, you might miss something!
Destination:
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  • Transportation to the river and back from Ennis, Alder, Sheridan or Twin Bridges.
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunches
  • Casting instruction
  • Knot tying instruction
  • Entomology lessons
  • Learning how to "read the water"
  • Beautiful 2-3 day float trip in pristine Montana
  • All from a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide
This is our 2-3 day, personalized introduction to fly fishing. You will learn knots, fly selection, how to find where the fish are and soooo much more. Our guides have been fishing ... moreall of their lives, they know what their doing and are excited to share that knowledge with you! We offer this on the water, individualized, class in two and three day sessions. Besides another great day of fishing, the booking the three day intro will give you a chance to: ask more questions as you learn more and start knowing what questions to ask, see more of a variety of water and better learn to adjust your fishing to different situations, get a better understanding of bug life (entemology) and what part that plays in your fishing plans, as well as more intricate fishing knowledge from one of our professional and experienced guides. The rivers you learn this wonderful sport will be determined by the guide and where he/she thinks you will be most successful. However, if there is a certain river you would like to spend some time on, let us know and we are happy to accommodate.
Destination:
  • Transportation to the river and back from Ennis, Alder, Sheridan or Twin Bridges.
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunch
  • Expert guidance from a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide!
The what? Yah, it's not the Madison or other rivers that you read about every other week. Good. This isn't an easy fishery unless you really know it. The fish aren't always jumping ... morein the boat but if you wanna try something new and a little different, you may be rewarded...
  • Montana Fly Fishing Guide
  • Lodging (arrive the night prior to your first day on the water)
  • Nightly 5 star dinnners, prepared by our Chef
  • Daily Montana style fishermans breakfast
  • Any needed gear and all of your flies
Montana’s Last Best Fly Fishing Lodge The Stonefly Inn and Outfitters is a privately owned Fly Fishing Lodge in rural Montana. No stop lights or tourist traps here – just countless ... moremiles of Blue Ribbon Trout Water, an overwhelming number of Trout and the occasional cattle drive. Because of our location, we often do not see the fishing pressure some of the other areas of the state have to deal with. In Twin Bridges, you can truly unwind and enjoy your Montana Fly Fishing Vacation along with the solitude and vastness of Southwest Montana. The days are longer, the fish are bigger and the beer is colder.

Here at The Stonefly, Dan “Rooster” Leavens and his entire staff of Montana Fly Fishing Guides are dedicated to providing you a Montana Fly Fishing Vacation that will leave you wanting to return year after year. Our average return ratio hovers around 95% season after season and Rooster goes out of his way to keep it that way. 

A typical day at The Stonefly will start with breakfast with your Montana Fly fishing Guide before you head to one of our local rivers to fish. During the day, you can expect professional instruction while you employ seemingly endless techniques to catch fish. With so many rivers to pick from, each day is certain to be different. Returning to the lodge, you’ll find fresh appetizers in the Roost Lounge and take a little time to unwind and tell a fish story or two over a cocktail. Dinners are prepared by our in house chef, Glen Hornsby – a veteran chef of over 20 years in the fly fishing industry. Following dinner, nightly campfires are the norm complete with after dinner cocktails, joke telling, guitar picking and plenty of storytelling.

During your Montana Fly Fishing Vacation, you will always feel welcome at The Stonefly. You can count on professional instruction from your Montana Fly Fishing Guides, top shelf “Farm to Table” meals and courteous service from our staff. You have our word on it. Odds are, you’ll catch a few great fish while you are here as well!

Pricing based on double occupancy
Destination:
  • Experienced Guide
Formed in Twin Bridges by the confluence of the Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Ruby Rivers, the Jefferson flows northbound over eighty miles to the confluence of the Madison and Gallatin ... moreRivers to form the Missouri. Receiving less pressure than any of the others, this is one of those fisheries that you have to see to believe.

What the Jefferson offers:

80 miles of floatable water, with good wading opportunities

Early stonefly hatches

Great streamer fishing

Unparallelled wildlife and scenery

Larger than average trout

Low angler pressure

Did we mention BIG brown trout?
Destination:
  • Full-day of professionally guided fly fishing for up to two anglers
  • Lunch, drinks, and snacks
  • Flies and other needed gear
With over 50 combined years of experience fishing the Jefferson River, we have the deep knowledge needed to guide you down this Blue Ribbon River. Located in Ennis, Montana, one of ... morethe top fly fishing towns in the world, Red Mountain Adventures is conveniently located to help you with your fishing experience.

Our guided float trips on the Jefferson River are perfect for:

Anglers looking for less angler traffic yet want to catch bigger fish

First time anglers who come here first to get easy, effective, and mindful instruction on fly fishing

Novices to experts who gain from our deep knowledge and instruction on the Madison River

Book with us today and enjoy the best in Montana fly fishing.
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Top Fly Fishing Rivers in the US
Rated as one of the top trout fishing rivers in the US byBob Mallard, author of 25 Best Towns - Fly Fishing for Trout
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Great fishing river when you want to escape the crowds
Been fishing this river for years. Great place to float when traffic is high on other rivers. Bigger fish, fewer of them, lots of peace.
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