Bitterroot River

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Bitterroot River

Updated 10/22/2021 at 8:10pm

Conditions At-a-glance


Weather Forecast

Our Report


BRO’s Tips of the Week:

As water temperatures drop, trout will favor holding lies that require them to expend less energy.  Soft seams, drop offs, and pools offer great cover, access to food, and a break from the current.  Target fish in these areas for a more productive day on the water.


7 Day Outlook:

Highs In the mid 50’s expected through the weekend for the Hamilton area.  Not much rain is expected for the weekend, but it is expected to be cold and rainy all next week.


Our Recommendations for the Best Techniques and Patterns:

BWO’s and Mahoganies are still kicking around on the Bitterroot.  Sparkle Duns, Parachute PTs and Brindlechutes in #14-16 for the Mahoganies.  Parachute BWOs and Christiansen’s Adult BWO in #18-20 for the Blue Wings.  Streamer fishing has been productive.  Stick to smaller streamers with the low clear water in the Bitterroot right now.  If you’re fishing articulated flies, go for the “mini” version.  Otherwise, the usual fare has been good: Sparkle Minnows, Wooly Buggers, Kreelexs, and Jigged Sparkle Yummys.  Nymphing is going to become more and more productive as water temperatures drop.  Perdigons, Spanish Bullets, Lightning Bugs, and Pheasant Tails #14-18.  Girdlebugs, TJs and San Juans are also a good bet.


Goings on at World Headquarters in Missoula:

Call us for up to the minute updates at 406.542.7411 or if you are in the area stop in for all your Orvis gear and the right bugs.  WE HAVE MOVED TO OUR BRAND NEW LOCATION AT 275 N. RUSSELL STREET IN MISSOULA

USGS Water Charts


Conditions are good on the Bitterroot right now.

The Hatch

Mahoganies #14-16. BWOs #18-20.

Fly Patterns

DRIES - Purple Haze, Brindlechute #14-16. Olive Parachute, DL Cripple, GT Adult (Olive) #18-20. Hot Spot Para-Wulff Brindlechute #14-16. NYMPHS - TJ Hooker or Girdle Bug #10-#12. Perdigons, Spanish Bullets, Frenchies, Duracells, Jig Pts #14-18. STREAMERS - Sparkle Minnow #6, Zonkers #6 & #8 in Natural, Olive, or Yellow, Kreelex Fly #4-6 in Copper/Gold


Water Flow

306cfs (below average for this time of year)



Water temperature at mid-day

52 Degrees

Water Condition


Best time of day to fish

Late morning into the evening.

Best stretch

The entire river is fishable. More but smaller fish in the upper sections. Fewer but larger fish in the lower sections.

Best access point

Multiple fishing access points along the river.

Fish species

Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, cutbows, and whitefish.

Fishing season

All year

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 or 4x to 5x for smaller rigs

Best fly fishing rod

9ft 5wt or 6wt for nymphing and dries - 6wt or 7wt for streamers

Best floating fly line

WF 5wt or 6wt

Best sinking fly line