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Simpson Outfitters

Mike Simpson

3747 Lewis

EAST HELENA, MT 59635

Cell 406-439-2506

e-mail mike@simpsonoutfitters.com

Blackfoot River Whitewater Float

  While most streams run swiftly in their upper reaches and then slow down in the lower parts, the Blackfoot River does just the opposite. A brushy meadow stream where it originates near Lincoln, the Blackfoot picks up steam and offers some challenging whitewater before its juncture with the Clark Fork River near Bonner. During early season highwater the Blackfoot has long stretches of continuous Class II and III whitewater. With its fast moving currents, clear pools, friendly whitewater, and mountain scenery, the Blackfoot is truly a classic Montana river. Known for legendary dry flyfishing, the Blackfoot was the inspiration for Norman Maclean's book, A River Runs Through It.

The Indians knew the Blackfoot as Cokalihishkit, meaning "river of the road to the buffalo." Tribes followed the river for its entire length, crossed the Continental Divide near the place we now call Rogers Pass, and then traveled to the plains surrounding present-day Great Falls in search of bison. Some of the river's toughest rapids lie three miles downstream of Russell Gates FAS near the Bear Creek bridge pilings. Between here and the Clearwater Bridge watch for a couple of drops with big rocks and high waves. Immediately upstream from the Highway 200 bridge at Roundup lies a big rock garden that lasts for several hundred yards. Most of the river between Roundup and Johnsrud is Class I or II except during high water when the larger drops become Class III.

Fishing is good on the Blackfoot. Insect carapaces on the cliff walls tell the story of a significant salmon-fly hatch. Salmon flies are a species of giant stonefly that generally hatch in mid-June. The upper Blackfoot contains mostly brown trout, with some rainbows and an occasional cutthroat and bull trout (release them all). The lower river is predominately a rainbow trout fishery