Along with the Clark Fork, the Bitterroot River is the first one to produce very good, early season, dryfly fishing. Beginning in April, the skwala stoneflies and nemoura stoneflies begin to hatch in great enough numbers to get big fish to the surface. While the Bitterroot doesn’t have nearly the skwala hatch intensity of the Clark Fork, there’s no doubt that if you’re after big fish (fish from 20″ to 27″), you should be on the “Root” during this hatch. You will also be seeing several other types of tinier stoneflies during this time, along with the spring grey drakes or March browns as some people call them. The great thing about the Bitterroot this time of year is that no matter what the weather’s like, the fish will be there. It’s just a matter of the comfort level of the fisherman! Once again, early season books up fast!
During this time period, the Bitterroot has activity ranging from one of the best green drake hatches in Montana, to some explosive hopper fishing. The ever present pmd mayflies make for excellent hunt and stalk fishing to specific fish on both overcast and sunny days alike. By the time summer is in full swing, all the major rivers in the Missoula area are fishing well and even with the ever increasing popularity of flyfishing, crowded river days are a rarity.
An excellent late season fishery, the Bitterroot will still be fishing well as the early snow squalls blanket the surrounding mountains with the first signs of winter to come. The fall conditions consist of low, clear water, warm sunny days and abundant hatches of tricos, mahoganies, blue winged olives, October caddis, pmds and remnant hopper/terrestrial fishing. This is a great time of year to have the river to yourself and some great fishing to boot. You can expect daytime highs in October to be around 55 degrees on average.