Blue Stream Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing Report for:

Bitterroot River - Missoula - Montana

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

Water Flow Chart

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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

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Directions To Location

Hatch Chart

Month Hatch Time of Day Recommended Fly Sizes Popular Fly Patterns
January Midge Mid-Late Afternoon 16-22 Griffith's Gnat
February Midge Mid-Late Afternoon 16-22 Griffith's Gnat
Blue Wing Olive Late Afternoon 16-20 Blue Wing Olive Sparkle Dun
March Skwala Stoneflies Afternoon 8-12 Skwala dry fly
Blue Wing Olive Afternoon 16-20 Blue Wing Olive Sparkle Dun
Midge Mornings/Afternoons 18-22 Griffith's Gnat
April March Brown Mayfly Afternoon 12-14 March Brown fly pattern
Blue Wing Olive Afternoons 16-20 Blue Wing Olive Sparkle Dun
Mother's Day Caddis Afternoon-Evening 14-16 Elk Hair Caddis
May Salmon Fly Midday-Evening 6-8 Pat's Rubber Legs
Green Drake Midday 10-12 Green Drake Cripple
Golden Stonefly Afternoon-Evening 8-12 Golden Stonefly Nymph
Mother's Day Caddis Afternoon-Evening 14-16 Elk Hair Caddis
June Golden Stonefly Afternoon-Evening 8-12 Golden Stonefly Nymph
Yellow Sally Late Morning 14-16 Yellow Sally Stimulator
Western Green Drakes Afternoon-Late Evening 10-12 Green Drake Cripple
PMD (Pale Morning Dun) Morning 14-18 Pale Morning Dun Emerger
July Terrestrials (Hoppers, Ants, Beetles) All Day 10-14 Chernobyl Hopper, Foam Beetle
Western Green Drakes Afternoon-Late Evening 10-12 Green Drake Cripple
PMD (Pale Morning Dun) Morning 14-18 Pale Morning Dun Emerger
August Terrestrials (Hoppers, Ants, Beetles) All Day 10-14 Chernobyl Hopper, Foam Beetle
Spruce Moth Morning 10-12 Spruce Moth pattern
September Terrestrials (Hoppers, Ants, Beetles) All Day 10-14 Chernobyl Hopper, Foam Beetle
Fall Baetis (Blue Wing Olive) Afternoon’s 18-22 Blue Wing Olive Sparkle Dun
October Streamers Early Morning/Late Evening 4-8 Black Bunny Leech
October Caddis Afternoon-Evening 8-10 Elk Hair Caddis
November Streamers Early Morning/Late Evening 4-8 Black Bunny Leech
Midges Mid-Late Afternoon 16-22 Griffith's Gnat
December Midges Mid-Late Afternoon 16-22 Griffith's Gnat

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

The Bitterroot River in Missoula, Montana, is renowned for its premier fly fishing experience. Here are the best spots:

  • Hamilton to Maclay Bridge: This lower section of the river offers the most consistent fishing due to the water temperature. It hosts a variety of fish species.
  • Bell Crossing: Bell Crossing features a great access point for launching a boat. It’s an excellent place to fish for Rainbow and Brown Trout.
  • Stevensville Crossing: This spot is known for its remarkable hatches, attracting large trout.
  • Conner Cut-off Road: The upper section of the river from Conner to Darby is ideal for wade fishing.
  • West Fork Bitterroot River: The West Fork is home to a healthy population of native Cutthroat trout.

Best Access Points

The Bitterroot River is a renowned fishing spot, particularly known for its excellent fly fishing prospects. Here are some of the most accessible points for fly fishing on this enchanting river surrounding Missoula:

  • Hamilton: Situated upstream, it’s buzzing with Mountain Whitefish and Brown Trout.
  • Confluence Bitterroot and Clark Fork: This spot teems with Rainbow Trout and presents fine fishing opportunities.
  • Victor Crossing Footbridge: A great access point for wading, it offers encounter with Cutthroat Trout.
  • Woodside Bridge: Found in the Lower Bitterroot, a choice spot for larger Rainbow Trout.
  • Stevensville Bridge: Perfect for those seeking a quiet have significant broods of whitefish.
  • Bell Crossing: Ideal for beginners, access is easy and the fish population is abundant.
  • Scenic Burnt Fork: Filled with wild brown trout, offers a tranquil setting.

These shady, cool stretches of water provide some of the best fly fishing experiences around Missoula.

Local Fish

  • Westslope Cutthroat Trout: This species is native to the Bitterroot River and is renowned for being challenging to catch due to their cautious nature.
  • Mountain Whitefish: This common fish species is present year-round in the Bitterroot River, making it a consistent target for fly fishing.
  • Brown Trout: These are the most popular fish to catch on the Bitterroot, known for their impressive sizes and aggressive nature.
  • Rainbow Trout: Located in the lower sections of the river, Rainbow Trout are known for their colorful appearance and athletic fight.
  • Bull Trout: A threatened species that is strictly catch-and-release, these fish are a spectacular sight for any angler lucky enough to catch one.
  • Brook Trout: These fish are smaller compared to other species, but their vibrant colors and prevalence make them a popular choice among fly fishers.
  • Northern Pike: While not as common as the other species, Northern Pike are prized game fish that are known for their aggressive behavior and strength.
  • Bitterroot Whitefish: Named after the river itself, these fish are a treasured catch for anyone fly fishing in the Bitterroot River due to their unique status.

About The River

Flowing through the heart of Montana, the Bitterroot River is a hidden gem of natural beauty with a rich history. Originating in the Bitterroot Mountains, it merges with the Clark Fork River right here in Missoula, decorating the landscape while serving as a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.

The river gets its name from the Bitterroot Plant, a beloved symbol of resilience for Montana’s Native Americans. The Salish tribe, who inhabited this area for generations, often utilized this plant as a food source.

In the 19th century, the valley surrounding the river was explored by the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. Today, the river continues to be a vital part of Missoula’s ecosystem, providing a habitat for numerous fish and wildlife species. Here are some highlights:

  • A popular location for fishing, particularly for Trout.
  • Offers thrilling whitewater rafting opportunities.
  • Provides habitats for eagles, ospreysh, and other wildlife.

The Bitterroot River – representing Montana’s beauty, history, and untamed spirit.

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