By Krawdaddy Jones

Posted: September 30, 2022

If you’re an educated fisherman, you’re probably familiar with the concept of Blue Ribbon streams, because that’s where you’ll likely catch the most quality fish. If not, don’t fret. Krawdaddy is gonna fill you in on all there is to know about this Blue Ribbon designation. 



Okay, first of all, it’s not a real blue ribbon. I know, I know, totally shocking. However, it’s much more exciting beneath the surface.. Of the water that is. A Blue Ribbon fishery is a body of water that has been recognized by the United States gov, and other authorities, as a high quality place to catch fish. 


There’s a few different subsections that these break into, from water quality and quantity, the temperature, flow, and more. Accessibility of this water counts into quality. Because, after all, what’s a good body of water if you can’t reach it? There must be a natural reproduction capacity in the water, which essentially means that the ecosystem in the water must be self-sufficient. In fact, not only self-sufficient, but thriving and consistent in the size of fish and amount of fish born within the body. The ability to withstand angler pressure must be high. 




There’s many great Blue Ribbon quality fishing across the country, but Montana breaks it down even further. Since the 1930s, world-class trout fisheries have been a gem of the Montana landscape. From fly-fishing and more, our lakes are world class when it comes to freshness, overall health, and Blue Ribbon quality fishing. Here’s just a few of those splendid fisheries to add to your list!




Boasting more than 2000 fish per mile, Rock Creek has quite the catch given its size. Overall, Rock Creek spans 52 miles through Missoula and Granite County, Montana. It’s a tributary of the Clark Fork river. The fish you can catch in Rock Creek range, from rainbow, brown, westslope cutthroat and bull trout! Now, a Blue Ribbon certification doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a good day and a big fish on the line. However, it does increase your odds significantly. Try Rock Creek for your luck, because the Blue Ribbon is indicative of the health and overall quality of the fishing. 




Flowing into Big Hole Valley, the Big Hole River is a Blue Ribbon Montana fishery you will not want to miss. Something that may indicate the quality of the fishing of this particular spot, is also a negative. There’s lots of mosquitos along Big Hole River in certain spots, and although this is annoying, it likely attracts lots of fish. Just don’t forget your repellant. In this river you can catch many different kinds of trout, specifically Brown Trout. 




As far as fly fishing goes, the Madison River offers some of the most diverse yet consistent fishing in Montana! Each section of this river can be utilized strongest in different seasons, which means that there’s almost always somewhere along the river to fish. It’s easy to see why this scenic and fruitful river has earned the Blue Ribbon! There’s high trout counts, plenty of opportunity, and lots of trophy fish potential! 

Blue Ribbon certification isn’t the end-all-be-all for any body of water of course, but it can save you some trouble in finding the best odds when it comes to fishing. Montana has several high quality spots with this certification, these were just a few of the primary examples. Check out this piece by Angela Montana from 2020 on the incredible fishing in Yellowstone! Be sure to respect the water and land you’re fishing on, and follow the regulations for each spot. Best of luck, and until next time, I’m Krawdaddy. 

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