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

Bitterroot River - MT

Fishing Outlook & Conditions

Water Temp:


Blackfoot River Outfitters's Tip of the Week

Clarity continues to improve on the Bitterroot, and while flows have resumed their roller coaster during these warm summer days, the general trend is promising. Salmonflies and golden stones are on the water and fishing well throughout the upper river, so it’s a good time to head up there and find some fish.

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Map of Bitterroot River

Water Flow Data

Tidal Conditions

5-Day Outlook as of 7/1/22

Warm and sunny days in the forecast! There’s still some snow hanging on in the Bitterroot range, but the river has settled into a mild rise and fall each day with minimal impact to clarity. Scattered thunderstorms and warm temperatures expected through the holiday weekend. If you are floating please use extreme caution. This river changes rapidly with high flows and is known for producing fatal log jams. New obstructions and changing channels can appear at any time. Give us a call for an updated obstruction report.

Techniques & Tips as of 7/1/22

Salmonflies are scattered but still on the menu on the Bitterroot. Our favorite salmonflies are the Thing from Uranus, Fluttering Stones, Emma Stones, and the Juicy Stone. These are great with a San Juan, Rubberlegs, or Frenchie on a short dropper and fished close to the bank in slow water. Cut the dropper off in the afternoon if you’re finding success on the dry. Golden stone and yellow sally activity is starting to pick up as well. For nymphing, try Girdle Bugs, TJ Hookers, Double Bead Stones, and San Juans in #6-8. As the water clears up, Jig PT’s, 2-Bit Hooker, Prince Nymph, Duracell, Spanish Bullet or Perdigon in #12-16 will be productive. Don’t hesitate to throw a Wooly, Sparkle Minnow or other small streamer under your indicator to grab attention. Streamer fishing is also good. Sparkle Minnows, Kreelexes, Mini Dungeons, and Thin Mints/Buggers are all good to carry on the water. Try speeding up your retrieve with these water temps and visibility to attract a predatory response. Goings on at World Headquarters in Missoula: Check out for more!

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):
Big Sky Salmon Fly N/A 06-08
TH 20 Incher N/A 06-10
Bead Head Rubber-Legged Orvis CJ N/A 06-10
Vernille San Juan Worm N/A 06-10
TJ Hooker N/A 08-12
Sparkle Minnow N/A 04-08
Larson's Legend Golden Stone Dry N/A 08-12
Tungsten Jig Bugger N/A 06-10
PMD Cripple N/A 14-16
French N/A 12-14

Big Sky Salmon Fly

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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)


Salmonflies, Goldenstones, PMDs, Yellow Sallies.

Best Time to Fish:

Early afternoon until evening.

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.