The Big Hole river has been a destination for serious trout fisherman since the late 1880s when The Angler’s Guide, an Eastern angling journal advertised the Big Hole as a national destination fishery for grayling and trout while promising daily 40 lb (18 kg) catches. Although the river still holds some native westslope cutthroat trout, their populations are almost non-existent. Instead, the river holds healthy wild populations of brook, rainbow and brown trout which were first introduced into the Big Hole in late 1880s as hatchery operations began in Butte and Bozeman, Montana. Native Mountain Whitefish are also prevalent in the river. In the 1980s, the state of Montana began stopping general stocking of all Montana rivers. The last hatchery fish were stocked in the Big Hole in 1990. Dozens of guides, outfitters and fishing lodges offer guided fishing on the Big Hole and its tributaries.
The river is a Class I water from the Fishtrap fishing access site downstream from Wisdom to its confluence with the Jefferson River. This status affects the level of public access for recreational purposes.
Upper Big Hole River