Trout Surfacing at Francois Slough

 "Ol Francois (Lamoose, occupant of portion of Refuge "land" in late 1800's)...did not own a plow and he only used three things to harvest the products of the land. He had a box of traps, a gun, and a fish pole." Harold Hagen speech from 1979 Ceremony renaming the Refuge in Senator Lee Metcalf's honor.

Bitterroot River-Looking North from Wildlife Viewing Area 128x96Refuge anglers must adhere to the fishing regulations designated by Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks (MFWP).  All fishing is by ARTIFICIAL BAIT and CATCH/RELEASE. Refuge staff also recommend that you review other excellent MFWP web-based materials detailing boating regulations, invasive aquatic plants, and a tutorial on bull trout identification

Refuge-specific regulations are found in our Hunting and Fishing Brochure. There are no boat launches within the Refuge. However, people can float and fish the part of the Bitterroot River that passes through the Refuge, but they must remain below the high water mark and must not access the Refuge from the river. Two fishing areas are open to the public on the Refuge, both are in the Wildlife Viewing Area (WVA [see map]), namely Francois Slough and the Bitterroot River. 

 Francois Slough in AutumnFishing Platform At Wildlife Viewing AreaFrancois Slough: Bank fishing Francois Slough is permitted. This slough is immediate (east) to the paved portion of the Wildlife Viewing Area Trail and is heavily vegetated with shrubs. A strip measuring about 40 yards (on both the east and west banks) in length can be readily accessed and bank fished. Additionally, a fishing platform is situated along the west side of the paved portion of the WVA trail at a water control structure that moves water from Francois Slough to the Bitterroot River.

Bitterroot River: Bank fishing along the Bitterroot River is permissible anywhere in the WVA. This stretch of bank measures roughly 370 yards or 1/5 mile, though not all can be accessed due to heavy bank vegetation. Best WVA spot to wade-in the river to fly fish is the intersection of the Francois Slough outlet and the Bitterroot River; it is shallow and has a firm gravel bottom here.

Fish species present (MFWP data) include: Montana Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Bull Trout, Columbia Slimy Sculpin, Cutthroat Trout, Largemouth Bass, Largescale Sucker, Longnose Sucker, Mountain Whitefish, Northern Pike, Northern Pike Minnow, Peamouth, Pumpkinseed, Rainbow Trout, Redside Shiner, Slimy Sculpin, and Westslope Cutthroat Trout.