The Best Time to Fish the Bitterroot?
Whenever you can.
With over 80 miles of world-class fishing and hatches all year long, the Bitterroot River is a fisherman’s paradise.
The spectacular Bitterroot Range rises a mile into the air to the west and the Sapphire Range rolls up to the Continental Divide in the east. A lush valley floor full of Cottonwoods and Ponderosa Pines is scattered with old ranches, farms, small towns; and a river runs through it. You may find an eagle or osprey as your fishing partner as well as Great Blue Herons, various Ducks, and Canada Geese.
Dry Fly Heaven
Watching a trout take your fly from the top of the water is really the pinnacle for most fly fisherman. You have a very good chance of doing just that on the Bitterroot most all year long. The river is a host to a wide variety of aquatic insects that hatch throughout the year. There are few epic hatches when big fish rise to gorge and the fishing can be unreal; such as the Skwala in early spring and the Salmonfly in late Spring.
Cutthroat and Bull Trout are the natives to the Bitterroot River drainage but you can also reel in Rainbows, Brookies, or a 22” Brown. Mountain Whitefish and Pike might be found from time to time. Fish populations and mandatory release are carefully managed by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. It’s a good idea to pick up a copy of the Fishing Proclamation. Different sections of the River may have their own regulations.
Getting on the river is the easy part. A plethora of Access Sites are maintained by the state and Montana’s Stream Access Laws are really friendly to the fisherman. Once you access the river at a designated site, you can fish up or down as long as you are within the “ordinary high-water mark.” For more info go to: fwp.mt.gov
There is no shortage of lakes to cast into as well. From larger boat fishing lakes, Como or Painted Rocks, to backcountry lakes in the wilderness. If you’ve fished the entire Bitterroot, there are many other classic rivers within an hour or two: The Blackfoot River, Big Hole River, Rock Creek, and Clark Fork.