Saint Mary Lake, Saint Mary River
Like most large lakes, Saint Mary Lake is best fished from a boat. Typically, the best fishing is at the inlet, which is a boggy and difficult bushwhack from Going-to-the-Sun Road. The Saint Mary River above the lake contains mostly whitefish. Below the lake, the river is home to a variety of trout species as well as the voracious pike. A short section of the river at the lake’s outlet to the bridge is popular.
Red Eagle Lake
Although Red Eagle Creek is generally considered to be bereft of fish due the scouring effects of spring run-off, Red Eagle Lake has a reputation for both scenic beauty and big trout. The trail is basically an easy hike, but the one-way trip is 7.8 miles. Four campsites are offered at both the head and the foot of the lake. You will locate the trailhead just south of the Saint Mary Lake Entrance. Just before the Entrance Station, turn south (left) on a paved road. Follow this road for about a half-mile, and then bear right to the parking area near an old ranger station. The trail offers spectacular scenery of snow-capped mountains and surrounding meadows with little elevation gain. Considered to be one of the more prolific lakes for large trout, Red Eagle Lake provides fishing for rainbows, cutthroats and hybrids. These trout are educated trout. Belly boats increase an angler’s chance to land one of these beauties.
Eastern Entrance: Two Medicine
Take Two Medicine Road from Highway 49 to the entrance station. If you plan on fishing Lower Two Medicine Lake in the lower reaches, be sure to acquire a Blackfoot Indian Reservation fishing permit.
Glacier Park Boat Company offers boat excursions at Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Two Medicine Lake and Lake McDonald
Two Medicine Lake
Two Medicine Lake and its adjacent lake, Pray Lake, are less than 10 miles from the entrance station. The Two Medicine Trail follows the northern shoreline to No Name Lake or Upper Two Medicine Lake, a distance of 4.4 miles. Two Medicine Lake and Pray Lake hold good-sized brook trout and rainbow trout. Two Medicine Lake is a large lake, and high winds should be a concern for those fishing from a car-top boat or a belly boat. Both lakes hold good-sized brook trout for experienced lake fishers.
Upper Two Medicine Lake
Follow the trail 4.4 miles or cut your distance in half by taking the boat tour to the upper boat landing on Two Medicine Lake. Glacier Park Boat Company offers cruises at 9:00, 10:30, 1:00, 3:00 and 5:00, which provides plenty of time to fish and meet an afternoon departure. Upper Two Medicine Lake offers fair fishing for small brook trout. The trailhead starts in the campground. No Name Lake Trail is an optional hike, when you depart off the boat. No Name Lake is a small lake offering fair fishing for brook trout and rainbow trout.
Oldman Lake has a reputation for nurturing large Yellowstone cutthroat trout and bull trout. (Bull trout must be released.) The trail from Two Medicine Campground to the lake is nearly seven miles, which in my mind precludes listing it as a day hike.
Eastern Entrance: Many Glacier
Resembling the European Alps with its stunning vistas and four glaciers, Many Glacier Valley attracted visitors via the Great Northern Railway when Many Glacier Hotel opened in 1914, just four years after the formation of the Park. Branching out from the hotel, hikers, then and now, have a network of trails to choose from for their day’s outing. The hotel offers trail rides, and tour boats run between the hotel and the upper end of Lake Josephine. Just outside the Park entrance, the town of Babb also offers visitor services and accommodations.
The Many Glacier Valley offers visitors the opportunity to view wildlife such as the powerful grizzly bear and the agile mountain goat and bighorn sheep. Fishing opportunities include the valley lakes as well as the backcountry lakes. However, some of the lakes, such as Upper Grinnell Lake, Iceberg Lake, Swiftcurrent Ridge Lake, Poia Lake and Cracker Lake, are barren or closed to fishing.
A short distance from Swiftcurrent Lake, at the end of the road, is the trailhead to Red Rock Lake. The hike to Red Rock Lake is three miles. It provides fishing for brook trout. A third trail from Many Glacier leads to Fishercap Lake, Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Lake. Fishercap Lake is a five-mile hike from Swiftcurrent Campground and provides fishing for brook trout and rainbows. Pass up the barren Iceberg Lake and plan on a hard five-mile hike to fish Ptarmigan Lake.
Lake Sherrburne is actually a reservoir and provides inconsistent fishing for pike and the occasional brook trout.
Attracting large numbers of people at both the hotel and the campground, Swiftcurrent Lake receives the most fishing pressure of the area lakes. The lake is home to brook trout and kokanee and the fishing is described as fair. Beginning a half-mile west of the hotel at a picnic site, Swiftcurrent Lake Trail #167 provides a self-guided nature trail that circles the lake. Crossing the foot-bridge over Grinnel Creek, Trail #180 branches off to take the hiker to Trail #171, which follows the southern shoreline of Lake Josephine.
Less than a mile hike from Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine provides fair fishing for brook trout and kokanee. Hikers may choose the South Shore Lake Josephine Trail starting at the hotel or the footpath along the north side of Swiftcurrent Lake to the upper Swiftcurrent boat dock and then westward to Lake Josephine.
Lying above Lake Josephine, Grinnell Lake may be reached following the south shore of Lake Josephine or the northern shore. However, the fishing is said to be poor as a result of receding glacial flow from Grinnell Glacier.
Just past the parking lot for the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, Fishercap Lake is easy to reach but disappointing as a fishery, offering up small brook trout in a shallow lake. The inlet stream and the outlet stream offer better opportunities for faster action, albeit small fish. Fishercap Lake is the trailhead for Red Rock Lake and Bullhead Lake.
Red Rock Lake
Because of its two-mile hike from the parking lot of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, Red Rock Lake gets pounded with hardware and bait. It is said to be fair fishing for brook trout. The final lake in this chain of lakes is Bullhead Lake, which is only 3.3 miles from the parking lot. Again, the lake is reported as fair fishing for brook trout.