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

Warm weather tripled flows on the Bitterroot two weeks ago, but cold nights have dropped flows considerably over the past week. As the water keeps clearing and flows hit the sweet spot, there could be great opportunities to enjoy another few days of fishing. Try prospecting with nymphs or a dry-dropper setup if you’re not seeing bugs, and keep an eye out for more stellar mayfly hatches along with caddis.

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Map of Bitterroot River

Water Flow Data

Tidal Conditions

5-Day Outlook as of 5/14/22

Flows are on their way back down and look to stay that way for the next two days, but higher temps starting on Sunday will bump the rivers and make fishing difficult.

Techniques & Tips as of 5/14/22

Look for mayfly and caddis hatches to continue during warmer parts of the day. Purple Hazes, Flash Cripples, and Brindle Chutes in #12-14 will imitate March Browns, and we recommend Jake’s CDC Caddis or your other favorite dark caddis pattern in #12-14. Round out your selection with parachute dries in #18 for BWO’s. The On Point BWO has been a great new pattern for us. Nymphing will likely be your best bet in the mornings and if the water is off-color. If you’re fishing subsurface, try Jig Mini Buggers, Girdle Bugs, TJ Hookers, and San Juans in #8-14. Nymphs that work for a dropper include the Lightning Bug, Jig PT, 2-Bit Hooker, Prince, Duracell, Spanish Bullet or Perdigon in #12-16. 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. Goings on at World Headquarters in Missoula: The Missoulian’s 2022 Best of Missoula Awards voting is live! Send a screenshot of your vote to Noelle at to be entered to win an Orvis 9’ 5wt Recon Rod! If we win, we are throwing in an Orvis Hydros Reel with line from Scientific Anglers! Vote for us here:

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):
March Brown N/A 12-14
Blue Winged Olive N/A 14-18
Stimulator N/A 10-14
Vernille San Juan Worm N/A 08-12
TJ Hooker N/A 08-12
Zebra Midge N/A 18-22
Bead Head Rubber-Legged Orvis CJ N/A 08-12
Tungsten Jig Bugger N/A 06-12
Spanish bullet N/A 14-18
Sparkle Minnow N/A 08-10

March Brown

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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)


March Browns, Caddis, BWO's.

Best Time to Fish:

Afternoons are best for dries.

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.