Bitterroot River Description
Just the Facts:
The panoramic mountains of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness towering above this river make for an unforgettable setting. Several solid water-flow years in a row have made the Bitterroot an even better fishery than it was in the early '90s. This river's largest fish often rise to dry flies even in non-hatch conditions. One of our guides claims that "If you catch a fish on the Bitterroot, you could have caught it with a dry fly!" This probably isn't far from the truth in light of our fishing dries here 90% of the time (excepting for the common additional bead head dropper). Renowned hatches of stone and may flies are in full force by March, providing the state's best early season surface action.
Typical catch – On the upper reaches expect primarily cutties 10"-16", with fewer rainbows 12"-18" and browns 16"-20"+. We expect to see around 25 opportunities above Hamilton and 15-20 per rod/per day further downstream.
Total area of drainage – 2,814 square miles ending in the Clark Fork right in Missoula.
Total river miles we guide – The full 80 miles of the main stem and another 20 miles on the West Fork.
Travel distances from Missoula – 10 minutes to 1½ hours with an average of 40 minutes.
Type of trips available – Floatfish, wading, float/wade combos, overnights and scenic.
Bank-side accommodations – Available in our tent camps or in a B & B.
Primary style of fishing – The Bitterroot is renowned for its dry fly-fishing as early as the second week in March, when several stones and mayflies hatch. Early season action with streamers and nymphs isn't bad either. Trico far-and-fine fishing in the late summer serves up some of our areas most challenging big fish on light tippets action. However, the golden stone hatch in early July initiates use of large attractor dries with beadhead droppers that is standard fare throughout the summer and fall.
View Bitterroot River Video
BRO's "Top Five" patterns:
Beadhead prince nymph #14 and #10
Royal stimulator #8
#8 Double bead stone (hare's ear color)
Parachute hopper #8
Black beadhead bugger #4