Fishing, especially for brown trout, has long been a major preoccupation in the Blackfoot Valley. Although past mining and ongoing heavy logging have deteriorated conditions, rehabilitation efforts have begun to pay off. On the Blackfoot and its tributaries, catch-and-release is required for cutthroat and bull trout (actually, you’re not supposed to intentionally catch bull trout at all). For the more prevalent brown and rainbow trout, check current regulations.
The Clearwater Bridge is a fishing-access site on Sunset Hill Road (which intersects Highway 200 just east of Greenough Hill). Farther down Sunset Hill Road is another fishing-access site.
To reach the Scotty Brown Bridge, turn down the gravel road seven miles east of Clearwater Junction on Highway 200. It’s marked with a fishing-access site sign, and the road leads to several fishing and camping sites.
Blackfoot River Road has two junctions with Highway 200, one just north of the McNamara Bridge (14 miles east of Missoula) and the other at the Roundup Bridge (28 miles east of Missoula). There are several fishing-access sites along this road, most with undeveloped campsites nearby.
During the winter, the recreational focus shifts to snowmobiling. There are more than 200 miles of groomed trails, many of them springing from a hub in Lincoln.
The Ovando area offers good west-side access to the Scapegoat and Bob Marshall Wilderness Areas.
For an outfitted pack trip into these stunningly beautiful areas, contact the folks at Lake Upsata Guest Ranch, who have a good crew of wranglers leading backcountry trips.
WTR Outfitters (406/793-5666 or 800/987-5666, www.wtroutfitters.com) is another well-established outfitting business.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition