Fishing Season: Year Round Below Painted Rocks Dam (catch and release Dec 1 - 3rd Saturday in May)

West Fork Bitterroot River - MT

Fishing Outlook & Conditions

Water Temp:


Jim Mitchell's Tip of the Week

Winter fishing is here. Nymphing with 2 nymphs is the best. Rubber legs and a small dropper.

Directions open in app

Map of West Fork Bitterroot River

Water Flow Data

Tidal Conditions

5-Day Outlook as of 12/6/22

The West Fork is at winter flows. Floating is not recommended.

Techniques & Tips as of 12/6/22


Local Species Available Year Round Below Painted Rocks Dam (catch and release Dec 1 - 3rd Saturday in May)

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    Brook & Bull Trout Mountain White Fish

Jim Mitchell's Recommended Fly Patterns

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

Name: Colors: Size(s):
Tunghead Hot Spot Pheasant Tail Jig Yellow, Orange 12
Bead Head Prince Peacock 10/14
Adams Parachute Dry Fly Gray 10/18
Adam's Purple Parachute Purple 10/18
Chubby Golden 8/12
Elk Wing Caddis Tan 14-16
Double Bunny Olive/White 6/2
Quigley Cripple N/A

Tunghead Hot Spot Pheasant Tail Jig

A barbless jig-style hook makes this pattern ride hook up, providing a snag-free drift.

Jim Mitchell's Recommended Gear

Description: About West Fork Bitterroot River

The West Fork of the Bitterroot River originates along the south west border of Montana. Flowing out of the Bitterroot mountain range it runs into Painted Rocks reservoir, a man-made lake created by Painted Rocks Dam. Below the dam the river flows for an additional fifteen miles to the confluence with the East Fork, creating the Bitterroot River. The West Fork above the dam is small and well suited for walk and wade fishing this mountain stream has good numbers of smaller wild trout. The fish here rise readily to almost any dry fly presented to them. Below Painted Rocks Reservoir, the West Fork consists of pocket water, riffles, runs and rock gardens. The river below the dam remains clear during spring run-off compared to the rest of the system until the water comes over the spillway. Fed by the reservoir, the West Fork maintains cool flows well into the fall. Feeding on prolific Salmon fly, Golden stone fly and spruce moth hatches the West Fork is home to sizable Wild West slope Cutthroat, Rainbow, Brown, Brook trout and Mountain whitefish. The West Fork, along with many of the other tributaries in the Bitterroot Valley hold bull trout, a federally protected fish that must be released immediately. Learn how to identify bull trout

Nearest Airport:

Missoula, MT (MSO)



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