The Ruby River starts as a small trickle of combined streams named the East, West & Middle Forks, located on the North side of the Centennial Divide, and on the west side of the Gravelly Mountain Range in Southwest Montana. From here the Ruby River flows north between the west side of the Gravely Mountain Range and the east side of the Snowcrest Mountain Range. The Ruby River picks up many small creeks along its journey adding to its volume as it makes its way downriver. Several miles before entering the Ruby Reservoir the Ruby River passes through numerous private ranches making access tough to nonexistent. This roughly 40 mile section from its origin to Ruby Reservoir is home to rainbows, browns and Westslope cutthroat trout averaging 5-10″, however there are larger trout, 14″-20″, that make their way up from the reservoir for both the spring and fall spawn, unfortunately in the tougher access areas of the private land.
Ruby Reservoir was built in 1938 for the sole purpose of holding water for ranchers and farmers. Like the Madison River’s Hebgen Dam, the Ruby Dam is a bottom feed with an overflow spillway, keeping water temps cooler during the summer months. The Ruby Dam underwent a full renovation in 2010, ensuring safe flows for another 70 years.
Once the Ruby River leaves its storage reservoir, the river meanders for approximately 48 miles through an agricultural valley to its confluence with the Beaverhead River, near Twin Bridges, Montana. Here is where most fishing is accessed, with five public fishing access locations. Once you access the river through public access locations you are allowed to fish the river as it flows through private land, so long as you stay within the ordinary high water mark to move up or downriver as needed. This being said, the ideal flows to navigate the river without trespassing (walking above the ordinary high water mark) is 400 cfs or less.
Species found throughout the Ruby River drainage: rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, Westslope cutthroat trout, a hybrid of Westslope cutthroat trout and rainbow trout (primarily in isolated tributaries), mountain whitefish, Arctic grayling, common carp, longnose dace, longnose sucker, Rocky Mountain sculpin, and white sucker.