DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Teton River in Montana

The Teton River in northwestern Montana is a 150-mile tributary of the Marias River and Missouri River, starting on the eastern side of the Rockies and flowing eastward through the plains of Montana.

Much of this river is privately owned, and except for the upper branches close to where it forms, does not offer the best fishing opportunities.

Because of that, this guide is going to focus mainly on where the upper forks of the river (north, south, east, and west) originate and come together to form the main river. This is where the best fishing can be found, after all.

Teton River near Choteau, Montana

If you can reach it (and we’ll soon discuss why that can be difficult) you’re in for a real treat. This is a beautiful area of the country, located right along the eastern edge of the Rockies.

The landscape offers a beautiful vista of mountains and trees, with the Teton River branches flowing majestically through as they make their way east. Not only is it beautiful, but this area is also very remote.

If you’re looking for a destination without competition, this is the place for you. In fact, the chances are you won’t see much of anyone else while you’re out there.

This upper area of the river offers plenty of rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout, which will willingly go after most dry flies you throw at them. Many pools, runs, and riffles can be found, along with some beaver ponds, which give you a great variety of places to fish.

The bottom of the river in this area is mainly gravel and rock, making it easy to wade. If you’re looking for majestic scenery, eager trout, and a bit of serenity, then this might be your ideal spot.

Teton River Map, Fishing Access Sites and Boat Launches

map of fishing access spots on the Teton River in Montana

Get directions to fishing access points and real-time stream flow data with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Teton River Flow and Current Conditions

Teton River bl South Fork nr Choteau MT

  • Streamflow: 55.5 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 4.04 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Places to Fish the Teton River

In case you couldn’t tell already, the upper reaches of the Teton River is pretty remote. While there is limited road access to a few sections of the north and south branch, most of this area is only reachable by hiking or backpacking in. 

The good news is that there are numerous hiking trails, so it’s not like you’re completely going where no man has ever gone before. Still, it’s a relatively remote area, and there’s very little in the way of civilization or amenities close enough to make it a quick jaunt.

What that boils down to is a fishing trip to this area of Montana means you should be ready for some camping, and while there are plenty of places -- official and unofficial -- to camp, be ready for a rugged outdoor experience, as luxuries will be few and far between.

The river itself actually comes close to the town of Choteau, so you might be more tempted to try your luck a little closer to civilization. While this makes river access much less of a hassle, this section of the river has generally poorer fishing, due to low-nutrient water and irrigation demands.

Also, much of the river at this point is owned privately, so access is much more limited. However, you can still get to it from the bridges and the like.

Past Choteau, the fishing quality picks up a bit, and brown trout can be had using streamers or hoppers along the banks.

From this point, the river flows eastward through the plains of Montana, and the fishing quality gets worse as the river warms up, and other fish such as catfish and pike become the predominant species.

Best Time to Fish the Teton River

As this is Montana, winter is long and brutal, and summer is by far the best time to fish these waters. However, spring and fall both offer some good opportunities.

While this area doesn’t have any unique hatches, Montana itself has pretty regular fishing seasons that follow an annual pattern, so knowing the time you’re going, and doing your homework beforehand, should give you a pretty good clue as to what will work best.

In April and May, for example, the march brown and Mothers Day caddis are your best bet. Later in the summer, caddis, yellow sallies, pale morning duns, and golden stones dominate the area. As summer turns to fall, aquatic hatches wind down, and landborne bugs like hoppers take center stage.

Need flies? 

Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere.  Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box. 

Dry Flies
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant

Nymphs/Wet Flies
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black

- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)

Teton River Fishing Tips

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Teton River. For larger nymphs and streamers a 9-foot 5-wt fly line makes life easier. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Need Gear? 

Below are recommendations for essential gear to make the most of your time on the water.

Quality rod, reel, line and rod tube at a reasonable price. Backed by Orvis 25-yr guarantee, a brand you can trust.

High performance nylon leader, great for fishing Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers.

Excellent knot strength, stretch and suppleness make this the finest nylon tippet.  3-pack of the sizes you'll need the most.

Heavy duty, waterproof, yet breathable.  If you are tough on waders, these are for you. Backed by Simms Wader Warranty. If they leak, they got your back.

Most durable, yet comfortable, boot on the market.  Excellent foot and ankle support.  Great for rocky rivers. Lightweight and designed for all-day wear.

Sweet pack with ample storage. Unique harness system reduces neck strain. Sleek tapered face improves visibility - you can see your feet when wading!

Durable and lightweight. The carbon fiber frame floats.  Hooks don't get stuck in the rubber mesh bag . Extra length makes it easier to net fish.  Simply the best nets on the market.

Tough, waterproof and priced right. Hold 900+ flies in slotted foam.  If you need more storage - you have too many flies!

Simple, sharp nippers at great price. Clip on retractor keeps this must have gear at your fingertips.

Strong with a fine tip. Perfect for removing split shot and hooks. Simply the best fishing pliers.

The 580 Glass polarized lenses are super clear and somehow relaxing on the eyes.  Game changer.

Note: DIY Fly Fishing earns a commission (at no cost to you) on sales made using the links above. Thank you for your support!

Teton River Trip Planning Tips

This upper part of the river is close to the town of Choteau, MT, which is a small town, but large enough to boast its own municipal airport as well as plenty of markets for food, fishing gear, and camping supplies.

Not too far away is Great Falls, and just a little bit farther down the road (about 100 miles away) is Helena, the state capital. So, getting to the region should not be that difficult. A quick stop in Choteau to pick up supplies, or to stay for the night before making an early start the morning, and you’re on your way!

We hope this guide has given you some great ideas for fishing the Teton River. What the river lacks in comfortable amenities, it more than makes up for with golden fishing opportunities. Plan ahead, though, and be prepared for a hike!

Looking for more places to fish in Montana? Visit our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Montana.

About the author

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.

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