Blue Stream Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing Report for:

Bitterroot River - Bell Crossing - Montana

Hatch Chart - Best Access/Spots - Local Fish - About

Water Flow Chart

Using Water Flow Charts & Weather Reports: Begin with our water flow charts to grasp stream velocity and volume – look for stable or rising trends to pinpoint ideal fishing times. Learn to interpret sudden spikes or drops, which can indicate potential challenges. Next, consult our weather reports to understand ambient conditions. Pairing the two, you can anticipate fish behavior, choose the right gear, and select the best fishing spots. Use these tools together for a holistic approach to your next fishing adventure.

In-Depth Weather

Directions To Location

Hatch Chart

Month Hatch Time of Day Recommended Fly Sizes Popular Fly Patterns
January Midge, Winter Stonefly Afternoon 18-20, 14-16 Zebra Midge, Rubber Legs Stonefly
February Midge, Winter Stonefly Afternoon 18-20, 14-16 Zebra Midge, Rubber Legs Stonefly
March Skwala, Midge, Blue Winged Olive Afternoon 14-16, 18-20, 16-18 Bullet Head Skwala, Zebra Midge, BWO Sparkle Dun
April Blue Winged Olive, March Brown Morning, Afternoon 16-18, 12-14 BWO Sparkle Dun, March Brown Nymph
May March Brown, Salmonfly Morning, Afternoon 12-14, 4-6 March Brown Nymph, Hair Wing Salmon Fly
June Golden Stone, Green Drake, PMD All Day 4-6, 10-12, 14-16 Rogue Foam Stone, Green Drake Sparkle Dun, PMD Parachute
July PMD, Yellow Sally, Spruce Moth All Day 14-16, 14-16, 10-12 PMD Parachute, Yellow Sally Stimulator, Elk Hare Caddis
August Hopper, Ants, Beetles Morning, Afternoon 6-10 Parachute Hopper, Para Ant, Foam Beetle
September Terrestrial, Mahoganies, Blue Winged Olive Late Morning, Late Afternoon 14-206, 12-14, 16-18 Hopper Pattern, Mahogany Dun, BWO Sparkle Dun
October Blue Winged Olive, October Caddis Afternoon 16-18, 12-14 BWO Sparkle Dun, October Caddis Nymph
November Midges Morning, Night 18-22 Zebra Midge
December Midges, Winter Stoneflies Afternoon 18-22, 14-16 Zebra Midge, Rubber Legs Stonefly

While we strive to ensure the precision of our hatch charts, some reflect broader river region insights. Through ongoing partnerships with local guides and fly shops, we’re committed to refining our data. Should you notice any inconsistencies or have feedback, we welcome you to reach out. 

Best Fishing Spots

Bell Crossing, located on the Bitterroot River, is a premium site for fly fishing. The best spots vary due to seasonal shifts but some perennial favorites include:

  • The large curves on the river banks. These typically harbor a profusion of fish attracting insects hence plenty of trout.
  • Gravel bars and sandy islands. The trout usually feed aggressively in these spots, especially during the Mayfly and Caddisfly hatches.
  • Under the overhanging trees. Cover and shade draws fish and also presents the challenge and satisfaction of making a ‘perfect’ cast.

Be sure to:

  1. Take note of seasonal changes which impact where fish feed. Spring is largely based on stonefly hatches while summer focuses on grasshoppers and other terrestrial insects.
  2. Observe the river for rising fish, a sure-fire indicator of good fishing spots.
  3. Adapt your tactics based on conditions and time of day. Early morning and evening commonly yield the best results.

Best Access Points

The Bitterroot River – Bell Crossing is a renowned spot for fly fishing. Here are some of the best access points:

  • Bell Crossing Access Point: Located on Bell Crossing Bridge, it allows for better access to the central part of the river. Excellent spot for brown and rainbow trout.
  • Victor Crossing Access Point: About 4 miles upstream, great for wade fishing. A range of fish species including cutthroats can be found here.
  • Stevensville Crossing Access Point: Situated around 7 miles downstream from Bell Crossing, offers wonderful opportunities to fish among Montana’s scenic landscapes.

Note, the legal access is limited to public property between the high-water marks. Respect private property signs to move along the river bed and banks among different points.

Local Fish

  • Rainbow Trout: One of the most targeted fish for fly fishing on Bitterroot River due to their high numbers and aggressive feeding.
  • Cutthroat Trout: Known for their large size in Bitterroot River, they are another preferred choice for fly anglers.
  • Brown Trout: They are more elusive in this area, but a good challenge makes them an attractive target.
  • Mountain Whitefish: Although not as popular, fly fishing for this fish species can be a unique experience on Bitterroot River.
  • Brook Trout: These fish are not as common in Bitterroot River, but can be found in some stretches, providing a good catch.
  • Golden Trout: They are rare, but catching a Golden Trout is considered a trophy and a great achievement for any angler.
  • Arctic Grayling: While they are not as plentiful as other species, the beauty and challenge of catching an Arctic Grayling make them a desirable pursuit.
  • Bull Trout: Though it’s listed as a threatened species and requires a catch-and-release tactic, fly anglers can enjoy the thrill of catching this substantial fish in Bitterroot River.

About The River

The Bitterroot River – Bell Crossing is a charming stretch located in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. This aquatic jewel carries a rich historical significance. Rich with natural resources, the valley has been home to the Salish (Flathead) and Pend d’Oreille tribes for thousands of years.

  • The river’s name traces its history back to the Salish Native American tribe who called the area home. The tribe named the area after the bitterroot plant, a critical food source.
  • Later, in 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through the area, bringing the Bitterroot River to national attention.
  • Fast forward to the late 19th and 20th centuries, the region underwent significant changes as mining and logging industries grew, impacting both the river and the valley.
  • Today, the area is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy activities such as fishing, boating, and sightseeing the breathtaking beauty of the region.

Despite its dynamic history, the Bell Crossing remains an integral, serene part of the Bitterroot River, serving as a testament to nature’s resilience and beauty.

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