Bitterroot River fly fishing and angler wading in the water.
Bitterroot River fly fishing and angler holding rainbow trout
Bitterroot River fly fishing and mayfly on rock
Bitterroot River fly fishing and scenic photo of river
Bitterroot River fly fishing and angler holding rainbow trout

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot River is located south of Missoula, Montana. The Selway-Bitterroot mountain range shoulders the Bitterroot valley offering one of the most scenic experiences in the state. The Headwaters of the Bitterroot River begin 80 miles north of where it eventually joins the Clark Fork River. For over half of that distance, the river moves quickly and offers classic runs, riffles and pools full of rainbow, westslope cutthroat, brown trout, and mountain whitefish.

The Bitterroot River starts fishing well before snowmelt around the middle or end of March. The Bitteroot River can offer some of the best early season opportunities in the state. And the Skwala stonefly hatch during March and April is the first real dry fly action. From there snow-melt and runoff usually prevent fishing from during May and early June but by end of June. After that, it’s game on and the season is in full swing. Nymphing is great on the Bitterroot. Pulling streamers is always fun. But for the most part the Bitterroot is all about dry fly action throughout most of the season.

  • Season(s): March through May
  • Species: Rainbow, Brown, Mountain Whitefish
  • Average Size: 14-16 inches
  • Tackle Suggestions: 9ft, five or six weight fast action fly rod
Overview

Located just south of Missoula, Montana the Bitterroot River offers some of the best early season action in the state. The annual skwala stonefly hatch in late March is not to be missed and brings the first consistent dry fly fishing of the year. The Bitterroot is a classic Montana stream and ribbons through a long valley lined with cottonwoods and shouldered by the Selway-Bitterroot Mountain range.

In the words of my good friend and colleague John Herzer, the Bitterroot River offers the illusion of seclusion. On many sections of the river you really don’t see any roads, hear any traffic, or see any homes. The valley is broad and the river braids frequently and changes each year. But it’s always quiet and makes you feel like you’re out there even though it’s a relatively populated area. From the headwaters, and keeping in mind the Bitterroot flows north, it flows through the towns of Darby, Hamilton, Stevensville, and Lolo but most of the time you’d never know that.

Spring hatches on the Bitterroot are pretty good and as mentioned above the skwala stonefly hatch along with March browns and blue winged olives headline March and April action. The summer season features pale morning dun and green drake mayflies and snows of caddis. By mid-August terrestrials are in play with hoppers, beetles and ants starting to move fish consistently. Most of August and September guides will generally rig up a classic hopper and dropper rig and head out for the day.

The Bitterroot is one Montana’s most iconic streams. It’s diverse and offers great angling opportunities throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Contact


Rates

Guided Day Trip Package

Can be arranged any day of the week, any time of the year.

Package Cost
Half Day (4 hours): $395
Full Day: $515
Full Day (Non-Local): $550

Kootenai River Lodge Fishing & Lodging Package

Prices shown are for one or two people.

Package Cost Cost (meals included)
3 Day/4 Night Package: $3345 $4545
4 Day/5 Night Package: $4310 $5810
5 Day/6 Night Package: $5275 $7075

Yaak Valley Cabins Fishing & Lodging Packages

Prices shown are for one or two people.

Package Cost
3 Day/4 Night Package: $2445
4 Day/5 Night Package: $3185
5 Day/6 Night Package: $3925

What’s Included?

The following is included in full day packages only:

  • Streamside picnic
  • Soft drinks
  • Shuttle

The following is included in Kootenai River Lodge packages only:

  • Guide fishing
  • Daily streamside picnics
  • River house lodging
  • (All meals are included with the Full Meals Package only, minimum 4 guests)

The following is included in Yaak Valley Cabin packages only:

  • Guide fishing
  • Daily streamside picnics
  • Log home lodging

Terms and Conditions

A 30% deposit is required to confirm your reservation. Balance is due 60 days prior to arrival – payable by check, credit card, or money order. Because our business depends on advanced bookings, if your reservation is cancelled at least 60 days prior to your visit, your deposit will be refunded, less a $100 cancellation fee. For cancellations within 60 days of your scheduled arrival, you will be responsible for full payment of your trip. We strongly recommend that our guests purchase travel insurance.