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Seams there's a lot of people offering guided fishing trips for these two stretches. Does anyone here have experience with guided trips geared towards fishing on either the MFS or Smith?
 

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I used to guide the Middle Fork Salmon, specializing in running the fishing folks. So I wasn't on the being guided end but the other side. No experience on the Smith at all but one day.....
 

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I would not recommend doing the Smith if fishing is your priority. It is very iffy on how good it will fish, based flow and water clarity. That said I would not do it without a pole.
 

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I don't know anything about the Smith, but if I wanted to fish the MFS, I would go with one of the Helfrichs (Tight Lines, Helfrich River Outfitter, Middle Fork of the Salmon Trips), or maybe Solitude. They cost more than mixed rafting/fishing outfitters, but if you really want to fish, these guys know fishing, know the Middle Fork and their focus is on fishing. With trips that are primarily rafting you might get a guide with some fishing experience, but from what I've seen, not much. Fishing is an afterthought to them, You will also be in a drift boat instead of a raft if you go with a fishing outfitter.
 

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As one who has been down the Smith R./MT thirteen times, it is my observation that after repeated years of dewatering for irrigation and the consequent water temperature rise, the fishery has taken a major hit. It is nothing like it used to be. (but then what is?) The fish are still eager to take the fly, conditions permitting, but the numbers and the size are down. IMHO. As a destination fishery, one that would require considerable outlay -esp. for an out of stater - there may be better choices for your time and money. (This is not intended as superflous verbage to veer you off course. Just stating the obsevations I've been making since 1989. When fishing two people out of a boat, it used to be commonplace to have both lines tight at a time [conditions permitting], now, not so much if at all.)
Regard from Missoula
 

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I will recommend to you my favorite guide instead of an outfitter. His name is Guy Robins and he is one of the best people I have ever gone down the river with. He used to run raft trips in Nepal and logged some first descents and general badass kayakery. He works with Mackay River Tours. He only pretty much only guides September fishing trips now. And one thing he does that the "regular outfitters" won't offer is a five or six day Upper Middle Fork trip. Heaven. I will PM you his contact info. He sets up his own trips, menus and agendas but is totally legit and runs under Mackay's permit. He was lead guide for them for years.

What Wyldman says below is mostly true. If you book a summer trip without reserving one end of a raft or drift boat you will be vying for space on the oar boat and hoping it works out. You will be expected to share and maybe sit in a paddle boat as well.

I don't know anything about the Smith, but if I wanted to fish the MFS, I would go with one of the Helfrichs
They cost more than mixed rafting/fishing outfitters, but if you really want to fish, these guys know fishing, know the Middle Fork and their focus is on fishing. With trips that are primarily rafting you might get a guide with some fishing experience, but from what I've seen, not much. Fishing is an afterthought to them, You will also be in a drift boat instead of a raft if you go with a fishing outfitter.
I guarantee you that one or two oar boats on nearly every trip have someone running the raft who is keenly into fishing. With the outfit I used to guide for at least four of us brought our gear on every trip and would use it as much as possible. The Middle Fork is usually pretty easy fishing but I actually had people fighting over who would get to go with me on some days.

They don't run drift boats in September, which is the absolute best time to fish the Middle Fork. I know the drift boat crowd catches lots of fish, but I have also seen the guides handling the fish very poorly too. Not all and I won't name names but I have seen it. More than once. And they always look kind of grouchy and old. All depends on what you want I suppose.
 

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The Smith is definitely off lately... there was a very low water year in the early 2000's with a large fish kill and there have been a lot of people fishing it since. That said, if you can get on with an outfitter you'll catch fish and if they're not already booked for their prime trips you should be able to choose a time that is much more likely to have clean water. Also bearing in mind, it doesn't have to be clean to catch fish. There are lots of hatches through late June/early July and with someone who knows the river you'll do well. It's a beautiful float and a must do sometime in your life.

I no longer know anyone that guides on the Smith. FWP limits the outfitters that can guide on it (though an outfitter can higher any guide). Montana State Parks :: Smith River - go down to authorized Smith River Outfitters and take a peak. I've heard good things about both Todd France and Mike Geary but I don't know either personally. When I worked on the river BRO had a shit load of permits and were typically not very pleasant to other outfitters. I really have never had much use for them since.

I do know a great guide on the MF, Tracy Blashill he's an outfitter in Livingston but runs MF trips through Echo. His partner Drew is also first class and are absolute blasts to hang with on river trips. You could contact them directly at Fly Fish Idaho, Montana & Mongolia with Territory Anglers or via Echo I'm sure. I've done the Smith a bunch with Tracy and he might even have a connection to get clients on with an outfitter there too. You will catch fish with Tracy no matter where your at! It's his passion.


Edit: Why your at it you could go for the hat-trick. Get him to arrange a Smith Trip, then go along on a MF then follow them to Mongolia and catch Taimen!!! That would be a hell of a run!
 
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