About the Smith
The Smith River originates high in the Castle Mountains of central Montana and flows north between the Little Belt and Big Belt ranges, gathering water from half a dozen tributaries which then flows into the Missouri River about 10 miles upstream of Great Falls.
The 60-mile float trip begins north of White Sulphur Springs at Camp Baker. The next public access site is five days away at the Eden Bridge take-out. This unique inaccessibility allows Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to greatly regulate the use of the river.
Along the 60-mile journey several large ranches and small clusters of summer cabins are encountered, but they are quickly forgotten as the remote wilderness surroundings prevail. The river drops over 1000 feet in elevation over the 60-mile stretch, creating as wide a variety of trout habitat as one can imagine. The character of the river is diverse; including wide riffles and pools, shallow flats, deep under-cut cliff walls and quiet backwaters.
Also, since the Smith River is a natural "freestone" river as opposed to a "tailwater," the insect populations found there are as diverse as the river itself. Everything from the smallest trico mayfly to the great "salmon fly" stonefly thrives throughout the river system.
Although 18 to 20 inch fish are frequently encountered, and 30 trout released in a day is not uncommon, the fishing for many anglers runs second to the overall atmosphere and beauty of the river.
Our guests float-fish two anglers per raft with personable, passionate guides who know the river well. Our rafts are equipped with custom fishing frames and comfortable seats. When anglers arrive in camp, spacious double occupancy tents are already pitched and their choice of beverage awaits them before dinner. Hearty, savory meals enhance the river experience.
The first hint of the Smith's canyon appears as very small headwalls. Meadows give way to steeper slopes and long benches. The headwalls then begin to grow higher, more frequent, until the river winds into a "half canyon" with towering sculptured limestone cliffs on one side and gently sloping meadows on the other.
Wildlife is abundant throughout the river corridor. Nesting waterfowl patrol the banks of the river as migratory songbirds search the bushes and the sky for an unsuspecting stonefly. A mid-day hike in the foothills may be rewarded with the treasure of a "shed" elk or deer antler.
Although there are no grizzly bears in this part of the state, a sighting of a black bear in its blond color phase may have you convinced otherwise. The last day of the journey reluctantly leaves the canyon behind and gives way to the beautiful central Montana prairie.