Fishing Season: Year round; some tributaries closed December 1-third week of May. Check regulations before fishing.

Bitterroot River - MT

Fishing Outlook & Conditions

Temperature 33°



Water Temp:


Blackfoot River Outfitters's Tip of the Week

This week’s tip is all about being flexible. Being prepared to fish a combination of dry flies, nymphs, and streamers will allow anglers to take advantage of whatever is thrown their way this week as we transition into runoff conditions. If you’re fishing with a buddy or have a spare rod available to you, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have one rod rigged up for a dry/dry dropper setup and the other rod set up to fish streamers. Alternating between these setups could be the ticket if you’re having trouble honing in on what the fish are feeding on. Just remember, wait until after you’ve done your due diligence with your dry/dry dropper setup before you throw your streamer through a hole to ensure you’re not spooking the dry fly eaters with a big streamer. *See our 7 Day Outlook for updates on blockages jamming up the Bitterroot.

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Map of Bitterroot River

Water Flow Data

5-Day Outlook as of 5/17/24

After a warm week and a bump in flows,expect consistent and chillier weather over the next week. We should see flows stabilize unless we receive significant rain. The river will still take a while to clear up. 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. Vets-Woodside: More wood down between New Bridge and Blodgett Park. The river right channel will require careful scouting and likely boat dragging. Woodside-Tucker: New tree down in right channel need to stay left here. 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: Very sketchy in the channel through the woods now that the water has come up. Consider going somewhere else until runoff subsides. 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. Stevi-Florence: Clear. Follow the water at any splits. As the river fluctuates it is smart to pull over and check for any potential changes. When In Doubt, Eddy Out! As always, we want anglers to know that they are responsible for their own wellbeing when they are on the water. As an outfitter, we will try our best to bring known dangers to light, but conditions and obstructions are always changing and we can't possibly keep up with every danger that may present itself. When in doubt, eddy out and walk downstream to get a good look at what you're dealing with!

Techniques & Tips as of 5/17/24

Nymphing or fishing a dry-dropper will be effective in the mornings and then as hatches start to fire up in the afternoon you can switch to a single dry or tandem dry fly rig. If visibility is less than 2’ stick with nymphs and streamers. Bigger is better in dirty water. We’re not seeing too many Skwalas as of late, however we are continuing to see Blue Wings, March Browns, Mother’s Day Caddis and Midges with a few drakes in the mix.

Local Species Available Year round; some tributaries closed December 1-third week of May. Check regulations before fishing.

  • Fish Icon

    Trout - rainbows

  • Fish Icon

    browns and cutties - whitefish

Blackfoot River Outfitters's Recommended Fly Patterns

"Must-have" fly fishing patterns in descending order of importance:

Name: Colors: Size(s):
Stimulator N/A #10-14
Chernobyl Ant N/A #10-14
Cripple Dun BWO N/A #16-20
Sparkle Dun March Brown #12-14
TJ Hooker N/A #08-12
Sparkle Minnow N/A #04-08
TH 20 Incher N/A #8-12
Tungsten Jig Bugger N/A #06-10
Thin Mint N/A #06-10
Duracell N/A #12-16


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Blackfoot River Outfitters's Recommended Gear

Description: About Bitterroot River

The panoramic mountains of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness towering above this river make for an unforgettable setting. The Bitterroot affords anglers over 80 miles of varied freestone trout water ranging from riffles and runs to undercuts and deadfalls. This river's largest fish often rise to dry flies even in non-hatch conditions. One of our guides claims that "If you catch a fish on the Bitterroot, you could have caught it with a dry fly!" This probably isn't far from the truth in light of our fishing dries here 90% of the time (often with an additional bead head dropper). Renowned hatches of stone and may flies are in full force by March, providing the state's best early season surface action and Bitterroot river fish tend to look up for the rest of the season. Expect to catch native westslope cutthroat, rainbows and browns on any outing.

Nearest Airport:

Missoula International Airport (MSO)


Caddis. BWOs. Gray Drakes. March Browns.

Best Time to Fish:


Best Stretch:

More fish but smaller size on the upper river. Fewer, but larger, fish in the lower sections.

Best Access:

Multiple fishing access sites throughout the river.