Noted for exceptional dry fly fishing throughout its 80 mile course, the Bitterroot wonders through cottonwood bottoms in the shadow snow capped peaks. Major hatches of stone flies, mayflies, and caddis start early in March here and continue on right through November. The braided nature of the Bitterroot provides for delightful combination float/wade trips affording anglers to get out of the boat periodically to ply seldom fished side channels and backwaters. Fly fishing the Bitterroot seldom disappoints.
Tip of the Week:
Cut off the dropper if you are getting refusals on your hopper pattern. Sometimes this can be the key to an aggressive hopper eat. Also, if your ultra-realistic pattern isn’t enticing the trout, try something more general, like a Plan B or a Chubby. We like to fish bright colors like purple, pink and peach during hopper season. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.
*See our 7 Day Outlook for updates on blockages jamming up the Bitterroot.
7 Day Outlook:
The weather for the Bitterroot is looking excellent for the next week. Water temps are good, especially in the upper and middle river.
If you are floating please use extreme caution. This river changes rapidly and is known for producing fatal log jams. Give us a call for an updated obstruction report. If you see any issues be sure to call us or send pics so we can share the same. Thanks.
*There are currently MANY obstructions on the Bitterroot.
Hannon-Wally: Several sweepers in this section. It is getting tougher as water drops.
Wally-Anglers: flows over Sleeping Child dam are always dicey! Don’t consider running after a scout unless you are highly skilled. The channel around the left side is too low to consider.
New Bridge-Woodside: More wood down between New Bridge and Blodgett Park. The river right channel will require careful scouting and likely boat dragging. The left channel was open this past week.
Woodside-Tucker: the left channel at the split is open but be sure to choose your splits wisely, and the right channel over the diversion dam may need to be portaged. Have a look before you run it.
Tucker-Bell: Unrunable at current flows
Bell-Stevi: Follow the sign that says “GO LEFT” to miss the log jam. A new log is exposed in the “clear” channel so proceed with caution.
Terrestrials and general attracttors are your best bet if you are looking to fish dry flies. Hoppers, ants and beetles should all be in your box. If they aren’t eating your hopper, try a micro chubby. We are seeing the tail end of tricos and BWOs and Mahoganies are right around the corner. If you’re nymphing, TJ Hookers in tan/brown and coffee/black and Prince Nymphs will make a good first bug with Duracells, Frenchies and Spanish Bullets as a second. If you throw streamers try flashy patterns like Sparkle Minnows, Precious Metals, or a Kreelex.
*Traveling or in a hurry? Let our knowledgeable staff pick a fly selection for you!
The upper river will have cooler water and more consistent dry fly fishing. See our fishing report above for the most updated information on obstructions.
Best access point
Multiple fishing access points along the river.
Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, cutbows, pike minnows, suckers, pike and whitefish.
MSO (Missoula International Airport)
Recommended fly fishing leader
From a boat - 7.5' 3x-4x. Wading step it up to 9'
Recommended fly fishing tippet
3X, 4X and 5X will cover 90% of our fishing applications. 1-2X is great for punching out large, wind resistant dries in high dirty water. Don't drop lower than 10lb for streamers (we recommend a 4-5' 10lb tapered leader with a sink tip fly line). Leave the 6X at home.
Best fly fishing rod
The 9' 5WT is our do it all rod. Fast action rods will be best for most of our fishing; foam dries, dry-dropper fishing and nymphing. A fast action 6WT will be useful for large foam dries, small streamers, heavy nymph rigs and punching bugs through the afternoon wind. Bring a 7WT if you plan to fish large articulated streamers.
Best floating fly line
Scientific Anglers MPX or Rio Gold
Best sinking fly line
Scientific Anglers Trout Express or Rio Predator F/I/S3