Fishing the Flathead Indian Reservation

Northwest Montana FishingFishing the Flathead Indian Reservation Overview below Map
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Regional Fly Shops and Guide Service

Stillwater River of the Northwest.

The majestic Mission Mountains rise straight up from the valley floor as the highway passes through the Flathead Indian Reservation and the towns of Arlee, St. Ignatius and Polson. A few miles north of Polson, visitors will come to a crest and be struck by the size and beauty of Flathead Lake, the largest natural lake west of the Great Lakes. Highway 93 follows the east shore of the lake to Kalispell, or travelers may choose Highway 35 to Bigfork and then reconnect with Highway 93 at the head of the lake. From Kalispell, travelers to Glacier National Park may route themselves on Highway 93 to Whitefish, take the mid-way Highway 2 or pick up Highway 35 which turns into Route 206 to Columbia Falls.

The Flathead Indian Reservation was established July 16, 1885, as part of the Hellgate Treaty. The Salish and Kootenai tribes were forced to move to the Flathead Indian Reservation. Encompassing 1.2 million acres, the reservation has as its northern boundary Flathead Lake, which is almost 27 miles long and 16 miles wide at its widest point. To the east the reservation is bordered by the towering Mission Mountains. Across the rolling pothole country to the west, the reservation is bordered by the Cabinet Mountains. Although originally including portions of the Bitterroot Valley, those lands were lost in subsequent revisions of the treaty, which was typical of Indian treaties in general. Fishing on the reservation requires a special tribal stamp and a recreation permit. The reservation offers excellent angling opportunities for warm-water species such as perch, bass and pike as well as all the major trout species.

The reservation offers alpine lakes, streams, ponds and reservoirs. Tribal wildlife managers continually work to upgrade the quality of riparian habitat for enhancement of native salmonids. The Jocko River is testimony to their efforts, providing good fishing for browns, cutthroats and rainbows. Local fishermen boast that Kicking Horse and Ninepipe Reservoir offer some of the best largemouth bass fishing in the region. And there is always the prospect of landing a 20-pound pike on the lower Flathead River or hiking into the Mission Mountains for native westslope cutthroats, brook trout and rainbows. The Flathead Reservation offers over a million acres of fishing opportunities. Stop in at Ronan Sports and Western in Ronan for fishing information on the reservation.