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Bitterroot River

Updated 12/11/2017 at 6:45pm

Conditions At-a-glance


Weather Forecast

37° / 24°
33° / 12°
33° / 7°
42° / 20°
40° / 26°
36° / 24°

Our Report

Now that winter has arrived in earnest, flows on Bitterroot should remain consistent and with it the  winter fly fishing should be too.  As with the other local rivers nymphing and swinging streamers continue to be your best bet but the possibility seeing fish up eating midges is greater here on the Root.  Surprisingly, the winter fishing doesn’t seem to be any better or worse between the lower and upper reaches.  The concentrations of trout are easier to find above Hamilton in the smaller water but they do pod up down lower as well; it’s just bigger water and sometimes not as obvious.  If you are serious about trying to find some fish up on midges spend more time around or below Stevi/Florence.

BEST TECHNIQUES – Like most winter fishing – nymphing is the name of the game and a red or pink worm in addition to the nymphs can’t be overstated.  We however

OUR TIPS OF THE WEEK – Typically we fish the obvious water. Deep green chop and riffle drop offs.  But don’t overlook 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.

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 or the upper near Darby will be good when the sun comes out and temps go up a coupla ticks.

The Hatch


Fly Patterns

DRIES - purple haze parachutes #16, sipper midge #18-20, griffs knat #18 NYMPHS- Prince, San Juan worm, double bead stones, 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- 303 cfs and level. Flows near Missoula, ~1000cfs

Link to Water Flow Graph



Water temperature at mid-day

upper 30's

Water Condition

Low and clear

Best time of day to fish

mid day to late afternoon

Best stretch

The entire river is still open of ice but a few sloughs are frozen.

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