Spotted Bear Ranch, located a few hours’ drive from Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, is one of the most exciting wild trout dry fly fishing destinations we have offered in quite some time. The South Fork of the Flathead is known in the fly fishing world as the epicenter for dry-fly cutthroat trout fishing.

There are two main fly fishing options to choose from: 6 days on the wilderness part of the South fork of the Flathead River accessible only by horseback and multiple Lodge packages that offer both floating and walk and wade fishing close by. Depending on your adventure level, Spotted Bear Ranch has you covered. They can also do custom wilderness trips as well.

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Reservations & Rates

2024 6-Day Wilderness Fly-fishing Pack & Float Trip

5N/6D day wilderness pack & float package: $7,000 USD per person
Extra nights before and after the Wilderness Float trip are $550/person

2024 Lodge Fly Fishing Packages

Spotted Bear Ranch offers many different lodge fishing packages, from 1 night and 1 day of fishing to 7 nights and 6 days of fishing.

4 nights /3 days $3,925/person
5 nights /4 days $5,050/person
6 nights / 5 days $6,175/person

Included in your stay at Spotted Bear Ranch are daily guided fishing (2:1 guest to guide ratio), rods/reels, flies, tippet, leaders, lodging, meals, non-alcoholic beverages, beer and wine with appetizers and dinner and transportation to and from the fisheries from the lodge.

Not included in your stay at Spotted Bear Ranch are transportation to Spotted Bear Ranch, Montana fishing license (purchase online prior to your trip), alcohol outside of what is stated in inclusions, gratuities, and Montana Lodging Tax

The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard (AIG) and Global Rescue (IMG) coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses.

Travel Insurance Information

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Seasons at Spotted Bear Ranch

The wilderness floats are run for a short season from mid-June to the end of August. This is perhaps one of the wildest locations in the lower 48. Weather can change quickly; summer is short in the “Bob” and there is always a chance for summer snow storms and nights dipping below freezing. Anglers need to be prepared and ready for anything Mother Nature can throw at you. Never forget your rain shell! Although there is always a chance for these weather extremes, the summer months are typically a pleasant time to be in the “Bob.” Days are generally clear, sunny, and nice and nights cool and crisp – perfect for sleeping.

With such a short window for eating and the nature of cutthroats, most anglers’ fish dries their entire stay. This doesn’t make all these fish a “gimme.” Poor drifts will put fish down and sometime a few fly changes are needed to bring some of the bigger fish to the net. Various attractor mayflies, different size and color caddis flies, stoneflies, and terrestrial all produce at different times of the year and day.

The season out of the lodge is a little longer and goes from mid-June to mid-September. One of the exciting fishing opportunities that is offered from the lower river is intercepting big bull trout coming out of Hungry Horse Reservoir as they head on their journey up the South fork. Anytime from Mid-June to Mid to End of July, anglers position themselves in some of these lower reaches just above the reservoir and swing huge streamers to these lake beasts that can get up to 15 pounds. Typically, the best time for this is the last week of June and the first week of July. July and August fishing around the lodge can be very exciting for Cutthroats on dry flies. Similar flies used on the upper section produce excellent results. Caddis, Mayflies, Stoneflies, and terrestrials are all great patterns to have in your fly box.

August and into September there can be some amazing hopper fishing on both the main south fork and the smaller tributaries. Casting big foam bugs along the banks always get looks from these opportunistic feeders.

As the season gets farther into September, colder weather becomes more likely and the days are getting shorter and evenings get cooler. Fishing still remains very good throughout this time, but just remember to pack some gloves for the cold morning starts.

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Getting to Spotted Bear Ranch

Getting to the Lodge is easy. In most cases you will fly from home to Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell Montana (FCA). From here it is just over a 2-3 hour (1.5 hours on gravel) drive from the Airport to the Lodge. You can rent a car or can hire a local shuttle service to take you in and pick you back up at the end of the trip.

Private plane/Helicopter shuttle Don’t feel like an hour and a half of dirt road and want a scenic sightseeing tour while getting to the lodge? Red Eagle Aviation out of Kalispell City Airport offers charter services to the Spotted Bear airstrip, 5 minutes from the lodge, for the 20 min flight in. They have several planes and can accommodate up to 5 guests

A helicopter can also be reserved to transport you to the lodge for 6 guests plus luggage.

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Lodging at Spotted Bear Ranch

Wilderness Accommodations:
For being in such a remote part of the world, the accommodations, food, and service is pretty plush, in a rustic sort of way. Everything has to come 25+ miles and is it all packed on the back of mules. The pack string is long and they take everything including the kitchen sink with them! All anglers will be staying in spacious wall tents furnished with comfortable cots. You will need to bring your own sleeping bag and pillow. Guests will eat breakfast and dinner each day in the open air with a tent fly to keep the weather out and lunches are served streamside with your guides. I don’t know if there is a better place to do this, Lunch with a view…. Meals are

often cooked in cast iron over an open fire and many delicious dinners are prepared in foil and cooked in the coals of these fires. Steaks and spaghetti are some of the favorites, and don’t plan on going hungry.

Lodge Accommodations:
Spotted Bear Ranch has six comfortable and rustic guest cabins. Each has a common room, a front porch and is equipped with heat and a small refrigerator. Most anglers can get single rooms/sharing a bathroom at no extra cost.

Enjoy five-star meals in the wilderness with locally sourced ingredients. Spotted Bear Ramch offers gourmet dinners from their experienced in house chef. Get ready for perfectly-cooked meats, glazes, and layered desserts made from local mountain huckleberries. Every night is a different mouthwatering experience.

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Fishing at Spotted Bear Ranch

Wilderness Fishing Pack Trips (Venturing into the Bob Marshall Wilderness):
Located in the 1.5 million acre Bob Marshall Wilderness, America’s first ever designated wilderness area, the South Fork is formed from the junction of Danaher Creek and Young’s Creek and runs for 45 miles due north, fed by dozens of small tributaries, where it exits the wilderness near Spotted Bear Ranger Station.

Enter by horseback and exit by raft. The only way to begin this float is by trail and since this is a wilderness area, getting there is huge part of the

adventure. This trip is set up for groups of 4 - 6. You will spend the first two days of your trip traveling on horseback to get to the upper reaches of the river. From the trailhead where they load everything up, to the start of your float which is around 25+ miles. It is a long, but beautiful ride in. The first day is shorter, around 10 miles, staff will set up camp while you can get your first taste of cutthroat dry fly fishing on the South Fork and settle in under the stars.

Depending on riding ability and whether you take your time and enjoy the scenery or ride straight through will determine the amount of fishing you will do during or after the ride. Day two is a little longer ride and you will head up river 15 miles or so for the final part of the pack in. You will once again set up camp and fish this 2nd evening. You can stop along the way to fish or head to camp and get out and fish in the afternoon. The third day is typically spent walk and wade fishing the South Fork and the White River. You can stay close to camp or hike even further into the back country. This is a favorite for most of the guests as it is a beautiful area and the river is spectacular to fish. The remaining 3 days of your trip will be enjoyed traveling downriver on rafts, enjoying world class float fishing, meals, and comfortable back country accommodations. You can fish completely based on your preference; from the boat or on foot. Most anglers prefer to get out of the boat to maximize the amount of water that is covered. In between fishy runs boat fishing is a great way to ensure that you are covering water.

Fly-fishing on the South Fork is known to be some of the best in the world. The South Fork is located in an isolated wilderness and the river and its tributaries remain lightly fished during a short summer season, and the result is a wonderful secluded native cutthroat fishery that remains mostly unchanged from its original state. Skilled anglers can plan on getting lots of opportunities with dry flies, and it is not uncommon for each boat to land dozens of native cuts a day. These Cutthroat trout range in size, but there are plenty in the 12 - 18” range, and they love to rise to big puffy dry flies! The South Fork is also one of the few places where an angler can target native Bull Trout in the lower 48. The South Fork Drainage is one of the last strongholds of these native Char in the lower 48 states. Because of the construction of Hungry Horse Reservoir, there fish grow big in the lake and migrate upstream early every summer to spawn in the fall. Every June and July lucky anglers intercept a few of these fish up to 30 inches. Fishing for Bull Trout closes on July 31.

Lodge Fishing:
Spotted Bear Ranch has 17 miles of the South Fork that they float fish from the lodge. They typically break this section of river into 2 separate floats which offer two full days of fishing. One ends at the lodge and the other starts at the Lodge. It is a beautiful section of river to float. If you enjoy fishing this float section and want to explore it again, you can do multiple days on these two stretches. However, it would not be the same if you didn’t check out a few of the many small streams and tributaries in the area. SBR has many miles of small rivers and stream fishing accessible within a short drive from the lodge. Spotted Bear River, Bunker Creek, Upper and Lower Twin creek are a few of the smaller tributaries the guides will take you to. Some can be challenging wading but for those that can cover water, there are plenty of eager cutthroats ready to eat your fly. Many of these small creeks rarely get fished and you can expect to catch lots of aggressive fish on big attractor patterns while wading in pristine clear mountain water in a stunning mountainous setting. You can also walk and wade the “Gorge,” which is untouched by floaters leaving cutthroats even more naïve than normal.

What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?

• REAL WILDERNESS The South Fork of the Flathead is located in the Bob Marshall wilderness complex, a 1.5 million acre protected track of land. Due to its remote wilderness location and no roads accessing the upper entry point of the float, this fishery has remained unchanged for centuries. Fishing is like it was in the good ole days and you’ll experience unbelievable days of catching wild native cutthroat trout on dry flies. Sure, it takes some extra effort and some adventure to get access this fishery, but we feel it is worth every trail mile. At the end of your trip, you’ll be a changed person, for the better…

• BULL RIDING Bull Trout are protected in much of the lower 48 with only a few places where you can legally target these big native char. The South fork of the Flathead is one of these locations and fish up to 15 pounds are landed every season. Stories of anglers landing cutthroats in the shallows only to have one of these big bulls attack their catch are not uncommon. Take the dries off and put on your biggest streamers for a chance at one of these big voracious predators, you won’t be disappointed in these prehistoric sportfish.

• EXPERIENCE When you get into any wilderness situation, typically you are a long way from the nearest road or any kind of support. There is no exception to this in the “Bob.” Keeping safe is a priority of the outfitter and you as an angler. When you are “in Deep” you want to be in the hands of a seasoned outfitter and great guides as well as experienced outdoorsmen. The Spotted Bear Ranch Team has spent a good portion of their adult lives in the wilderness. They are some hardy, tough folks that know the ins and the outs of wilderness travel and safety. The SPR staff will take care of all the details of your trip, so you can kick back, take it all in and recharge.

• SOLITUDE The South Fork of the Flathead lies within the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and with this there are commercial regulations and outfitters need special permits. There are only a handful of commercial permits on the river and SBR is proud to be one outfitter allowed to operate in the “Bob”. Isolation and difficulty accessing this remote wilderness and limited permits to commercial outfitters, assures you solitude and quality dry fly fishing on this unique wilderness river. You won’t have to worry about another angler dropping in below you on the river; you’ll have it all to yourself. Now that’s peace of mind…

• A NUMBERS GAME With access to such prolific wilderness fisheries, Spotted Bear Ranch is the ideal destination for anglers new to fly fishing and especially young anglers just learning how to fly fish. The fishing at times is ridiculous and if you blow a cast, miss a take or loose a fish; no big deal, another one is willing and able to eat your dry fly on the next cast...over and over again. We can’t think of better spot to light the passion of a young angler, then on a wilderness river loaded with native cutthroat.

Additional Photos

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Making Reservations to Spotted Bear Ranch

To make a reservation, please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours (Monday - Friday • 7:30 AM - 6:00 PM), or email us at anytime. We can give you the answers you need, detailed explanations to questions you might have, or check on availability and confirm your reservation in minutes.