Missoula and surrounding valleys were once home to the expansive glacial Lake Missoula during the Ice Ages. Ancient water lines are still visible on the hillsides around town. More recently, the Native American tribes of the Salish and Kootenai nations were the first to call this area home. In fact, the name Missoula comes from a Salish word meaning “river of ambush.” Lewis and Clark were the first whites through the valley in 1805, but it wasn’t until 1860 that the first permanent settlement was established. The late 1800’s brought real growth to the area with the installation of the U.S. Army’s Fort Missoula, the Northern Pacific Railroad, and the founding of the University of Montana. Logging, rail transport and trade carried Missoula through most of the 20th century, but today the U of M, the health care industry and tourism drive the local economy.
Why Missoula, Montana?
Missoula offers a unique western experience for the visiting fly fishing angler. Not only do we have four main rivers right out our back door filled with wild trout, but with a population around 80,000 the town offers all the services and amenities one could ask for without feeling too big. There are scores of lodging options, from hotels, B&Bs and lodges as well as dozens of restaurants ranging from quaint cafes to the best of fine dining. Missoula is home to several local breweries and art galleries, and hosts the national headquarters for the Forest Service Smokejumpers, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Boone and Crockett Club. Within an hour of town you will find the National Bison Range, Rattlesnake Wilderness, Lolo Hot Springs, Garnett Ghost Town and Flathead Lake. Opportunities abound for mountain biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, golf and sightseeing. And the best part is you can fly directly into Missoula International Airport on one of several major airlines. Missoula is the perfect destination for serious anglers and vacationing families alike.