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

Bitterroot River - MT

Fishing Outlook & Conditions

Temperature 29°



Water Temp:


Blackfoot River Outfitters's Tip of the Week

When temperatures approach freezing the water that you fish is very important. Spend your time focusing on slow, deep pools or slow current seams boarding eddys. Trout will hold in areas that allow them to use the minimal amount of energy while still having access to feeding opportunities. *See our 7 Day Outlook for updates on blockages jamming up the Bitterroot.

Directions open in app

Map of Bitterroot River

Water Flow Data

5-Day Outlook as of 2/17/24

Warmer weather is on the way for the Bitterroot Valley. Fishing should improve over the next week. Focus on warmer afternoons for the best fishing. 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. New Bridge-Woodside: More wood down between New Bridge and Blodgett Park. The river right channel will require careful scouting and likely boat dragging. The left channel was open this past week. Woodside-Tucker: 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: Now runable with lower flows 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.

Techniques & Tips as of 2/17/24

Nymphing will always be your best technique for winter fishing. Cold water fish are lazy and will not move far to eat a fly so make sure you are getting multiple difts through the fishiest water. Deep and slow is the name of the game when water temperatures approach freezing. We like to fish our “meat and potatoes” flies this time of year: San Juans, Stoneflies and large Mayfly nymphs. If you want to fish a streamer try a very slow swing or dead drift. Streamers under an indicator can be deadly. We are seeing some fish rising to midges in the afternoon. This is tricky fishing that requires tiny flies and light tippet (at least 5X). Look for risers in the slowest moving water and back eddys.

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):
Bead Head Prince N/A #8-12
Tunghead Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail N/A #12-14
Vernille San Juan Worm N/A #8-10
Bead Head Rubber-Legged Orvis CJ N/A #8-10
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
Frenchie N/A #14-18

Bead Head Prince

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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)



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.