The Jefferson River is formed by the junction of Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers, near Twin Bridges, Montana, and runs northeasterly 77 miles to Three Forks, where it then joins the Madison and Gallatin rivers to form the Missouri River.
Low pressure, gorgeous holding water, big browns and an ever growing population of rainbows draws a select few season after season . Best fished from a driftboat, the Jefferson offers hatches of caddis, baetis, summer stones, flying ants and of course hoppers. The river nymphs fairly consistent throughout its length and offers some of the areas better streamer fishing in the fall of the year. From the confluence in Twin Bridges downstream to the Lewis and Clark caverns you have a 40 mile stretch of river that sees fewer angler days than any other local river. Techniques vary with the season and water temperatures, and can humble the best of us. When you do crack the code however, some of the finest examples of Browns and Rainbows you have ever seen are laying in the picture perfect riffles and runs. Cover and “fishy water” is one thing the Jefferson does not lack.
Frank “the tank” Kneeshaw proclaimed last season that his clients hooked and landed more “virgin rainbows” than he ever dreamed were in that river. These fish are clean, silver bright, and you know it when you hook one.
Making a strong comeback from the dewatering and whirling disease of the late 80’s and early 90’s, the Jefferson has growing populations of 16-20″ Rainbows, and a healthy population of some really large Browns.
Settled in against the foothills of the Tobacco Root Mountains, the wildlife alone in the Jefferson valley is worth the trip on some days. I have seen moose, whitetails, mule deer, antelope, pheasants, Hungarian partridge, eagles, otters, beavers, and more ducks and geese than you know what to do with all in one day on the Jefferson.