Bitterroot River

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Bitterroot River

Updated 05/27/2022 at 9:48pm

Conditions At-a-glance


Weather Forecast

Our Report

BRO’s Tips of the Week:

With the cold spring we’ve been having flows are on a roller coaster ride- jumping on the warmer days but dropping quickly once the temperature falls. If you find the rivers starting to drop and you’re itching to get out, focus on the upper sections of the watershed. Usually, those will fish better because they clear out quickest. Alternatively, you can explore stillwater options. Tributaries, which open 5/21, are another option.


7 Day Outlook:

Warm temps this week have the Bitterroot blown out.  Rain expected this weekend and warm temps again next week are going to make fishing tough. If you are floating please use extreme caution.  This river changes rapidly with high flows and is known for producing fatal log jams.


Our Recommendations for the Best Techniques and Patterns:

Nymphing will likely be your best bet when the water is off-color. Bigger/brighter is better when vis gets low. Fish can’t eat what they can’t see! Try Girdle Bugs, TJ Hookers, Double Bead Stones, and San Juans in #6-8. If the water clears up, Lightning Bug, Jig PT, 2-Bit Hooker, Prince Nymph, Duracell, Spanish Bullet or Perdigon in #12-16 should be more productive.  Don’t hesitate to throw a Wooly, Sparkle Minnow or other small streamer under your indicator to grab attention.  

Streamer prospecting might yield results. Sparkle Minnows, Kreelexes, Mini Dungeons, and Thin Mints/Buggers are all good to carry on the water. If you aren’t seeing action on one color, move through a rotation to change your luck. 

Check out our spring fly assortment here!


Goings on at World Headquarters in Missoula:

The new Online Store is live!  Check it out!

We also have new Sage R8 rods in stock! Find yours here.

Sunny days are ahead, and we’re ready for them with new BRO logo sun hoodies

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



The Hatch

Fly Patterns

DRIES - Large attractors. NYMPHS - TJ Hooker, Girdle Bug, San Juan #06-#10. Perdigons, Spanish Bullets, Frenchies, Duracells, Jig PTs #14-18. STREAMERS - Sparkle Minnow #06-08, Zonkers #06 & #08 in Natural, Olive, or Yellow. Buggers #06-12


Water Flow

7380cfs (average for this time of year)



Water temperature at mid-day

55 degrees

Water Condition


Best time of day to fish

Afternoon and evening.

Best stretch

The Bitterroot will be mostly unfishable for the next week. The river is changing rapidly and we will see new obstructions in the near future. Here's what we saw before the most recent push of water: Two trees down between Tucker-Bell. Choose the center channel to sneak through. There are also trees down a couple miles below Woodside that can be dragged over or hand-lined with a raft.

Best access point

Multiple fishing access points along the river.

Fish species

Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, cutbows, pike minnows, suckers, pike 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