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Bitterroot River

Updated 09/20/2017 at 6:01pm

Conditions At-a-glance


Weather Forecast

62° / 41°
47° / 31°
46° / 29°
52° / 41°
45° / 35°
44° / 35°

Our Report

Fly fishing on the Bitterroot is getting better now that full on fall has hit western Montana. Look for good surface activity with mayflies when it’s cloudy and rainy. Hopper fishing should be good when it warms up and it’s sunny.

BEST TECHNIQUES – Hopper/dropper rigs working the best with the cooler weather. San Juan worm under a chubby has been picking up some nicer fish in the deeper runs. Look for slower water when it’s chilly….trout are lazy and don’t want to work too hard for food – nice slow drifts in those bigger pools are the ticket.

OUR TIPS OF THE WEEK – Fishing on the lower stretches of this river when it’s cloudy will likely have the best results. Mayflies and blue wings should be out.

Be sure to call the shop in Missoula to get up to the minute recommendations…Blackfoot River Outfitters 406-542-7411.


The Root is low and cool now. This will continue with the forecast for more rain and cooler temps for the next week. The weekend should be good for hopper and surface action with the sun making an appearance on Sunday.

Call us or stop by our fly shop at 3055 North Reserve Street in Missoula for specific locations or to pick up your bugs. Thanks and good fishing from the crew at:
Blackfoot River Outfitters — 406.542.7411.



The Root is low and clear. Fishing on the lower stretches should be good with the clouds and rain predicted this week. Fishing on the upper near Darby will be good when the sun comes out - look at the weekend for the best results there.

The Hatch

Mahoganies, blue wings and hoppers.

Fly Patterns

DRIES - Pmd parachutes #16, grass hopper attractors (chubbys, rogues, etc) #8 NYMPHS- Prince, San Juan worm, pheasant tails, copper johns - tungsten is a good call on all. STREAMERS - olive or natural zonker type pattern #6, sparkle minnow #6, olive or black bead head buggers #8


Water Flow

Darby- 453 cfs and level. Flows near Missoula, 787 cfs

Link to Water Flow Graph



Water temperature at mid-day

upper 50's

Water Condition

Low and clear

Best time of day to fish

Mornings into mid day then the river is heating up

Best stretch

Lower river has a few psuedos (those horrible little blue winged pale duns ; ) & tricos so that's your best shot at dries. REMEMBER Bitterroot River is still on "Hoot Owl" restrictions below Hamilton.

Best access point

Multiple fishing access points along the river.

Fish species

Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, cutbows, and white fish.

Fishing season

All year, catch and release for trout in the winter.

Nearest airport

Missoula international Airport (MSO)

Recommended fly fishing leader

From a boat - 7.5' 3x-4x. Wading step it up to 9'.

Recommended fly fishing tippet

3x top bug and 4x for second.

Best fly fishing rod

9 or 9'6" 5 or 6 weights for nymphing and dries - 7wt for streamers

Best sinking fly line