Bitterroot River

Cutthroat Trout in Montana

The Bitterroot River, a medium-sized tributary of the Clark Fork River that runs between the Sapphire and Bitterroot mountain ranges, is a classic freestone fishery in the more temperate pacific watershed of Montana. It is a braided river we fish from drifboats and rafts later in the summer months, and has a healthy population of  brown, rainbow and native westslope cutthroat trout. It is easily accessible from Missoula, but the smaller towns of Florence, Stevensville, Hamilton and Darby offer all the amenities you'll need in the valley.

Fishing Seasons and Techniques

The Bitterroot may be best known for it's early season skwala stonefly madness more than anything else. This early hatching stonefly will get trout actively feeding on big dryflies as early as March and certainly April, and it draws anglers eager to knock off the winter cobwebs from all over the state and country. But after the skwallas are long gone, the Bitterroot still has much to offer for the summer and fall seasons, with drake mayfly hatches in the early summer after run-off and lots of great trico and terrestrial fishing after that.

The Bitterroot River is a tricky one to navigate if you don't know it well. Numerous braids with log jams and diversion dams with dangerous hydraulics below make some stretches 'expert only' territory.