An epic thru-hike of the South Fork of the Flathead River.
The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex consists of over one million acres of roadless wilderness spread over four National Forest Ranger Districts. Approximately 25 miles from the nearest trailhead, Youngs Creek and Danaher Creek come together to form the South Fork of the Flathead. From there, the South Fork flows north, dissecting the "Bob" for almost 40 river miles before exiting the wilderness area on its way to the Hungry Horse Reservoir. This is one of the most pristine fisheries in the US, and the native west slope cutthroat eagerly rise to dry flies in crystal clear water. The cutthroat don't get huge, but double-digit days of healthy dry fly fish in the 12-20 inch range are the norm. If it's something huge you're after, pack an 8-weight because the south fork is also home to bull trout, a native species of char that can grow well over the 30" mark. Due to challenges like hybridization with introduced brook trout and habitat loss/fragmentation, these migratory fish have been added to the threatened species list. The Bob Marshall was designated wilderness in 1964, and without the competition from nonnative fish or habitat loss from roads and other human development, the South Fork is home to one of the healthiest bull trout populations in Montana. It is also the only river where anglers can legally target bull trout. With the help of a mandatory Catch Card, biologists hope to learn more about this threatened species and restore this apex predator throughout its native range.
After we exit the backcountry, we will cap off our trip with a day of floating and fishing on the Blackfoot River.
The Bob Marshall Expedition is our longest backcountry expedition. With almost 60 miles of backpacking over eight days, this trip won't be easy, but it will be epic.
|Jul 10 - Jul 22, 2024
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- Community Service
- What to Bring
We have put together a list of all that you will need for a successful and comfortable expedition. We offer a rental program for most of the big ticket items like fly rods, reels, sleeping bags, etc.. If you are already enrolled, you can rent gear by logging into your account at: https://lillard.campintouch.com/v2/login/login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f and navigating to Forms & Documents —> Rental Options.
My teenage son has done two of the advanced expeditions. The experiences have been incredible. Outstanding guides, unique locations, and great camaraderie. Lillard spends the time to create lasting memories. They have my complete trust. My son started as a new fly fisher and is now teaching me what he learned. Besides fishing education, there is a focus on conservation, the environment, wildlife, and living in the moment (no cell phones). I wish that I had a similar opportunity when I was younger. He will keep doing these trips until he ages out. Thanks Will Lillard for expanding the horizons of so many emerging, young adults.
- World class dry fly fishing for 100% genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout.
- Fish for bull trout in the only river in Montana with a healthy population of these threatened species.
- Experience one of the most remote places in Montana.
- Westslope Cutthroat
- Bull Trout
- South Fork of the Flathead and its tributaries
- Blackfoot River
- North Fork Blackfoot River
HOW, WHERE, AND WHEN DO PARTICIPANTS MEET THEIR GROUP?
The Bob Marshal Expedition begins and ends at the Missoula, MT airport. Participants can fly to/from the airport on arrival/departure day or be dropped off/picked up by a parent/guardian. Please look for flights that arrive before 4 pm on arrival day. On the last day of the trip, flights that depart before 2 pm are ideal. Unaccompanied minors will be met at their gate. Participants flying as an adults should follow signs to the baggage claim. Their LFFE trip leader will meet them there. On departure day, your trip leaders will help you check in and wait with the group until the last participant's flight leaves the ground.
Do I need to have fly fishing experience?
The west slope cutthroat fishing in the Bob Marshall wilderness is absolutely lights out. Even the beginner angler will find success fishing dry flies for these eager native trout. The Bull Trout are an endangered species and an apex predator. Their numbers are far lower, with only a handful of fish per mile. Catching one takes a ton of persistence, and some experience fishing heavy streamers doesn't hurt.
Do I need my own fishing equipment?
Students are responsible for their own fly rod, reel, line, and a few other personal fishing items. Please get in touch with us for a complete packing list. Don't have your own gear? Not a problem. We have top-quality Orvis rods and reels available to rent.
What other equipment will I need?
We will send you a complete packing list if you are interested in signing up for one of our Adventure Academies. Group gear, such as tents, stoves, etc., is all provided by LFFE. Personal equipment such as sleeping bags and backpacks are all available to rent.