The Bitterroot River begins at the confluence of the east and west forks near the town of Conner, Montana and flows approximately 80 miles north to join the Clark Fork River in Missoula. The Selway-Bitterroot mountain range provides stunning scenery along the entire river, especially on the upper river above Hamilton where jagged 9,000 foot tall granite peaks slice through the sky.
The Bitterroot’s south to north orientation helps warm the river in the spring and fall which makes it one of the first good dry fly options in the spring and probably the last and best option for floating in the late fall and early winter. Hoards of anglers flock to the Bitterroot River in the spring for the Skwala stonefly hatch which produces one of the seasons first hatch of flies you can fish without squinting your eyes. The Upper Bitterroot along with the East and West forks has a prolific salmonfly hatch which makes it a great option in the early summer before the rest of the river comes into shape. I am particularly fond of the golden stonefly hatch which begins in late June and carries on through July. By mid-August much of the mid river is dewatered due to heavy irrigation demands, making it a less viable option. But, by the end of August and into September and October the river picks up once again and the fall trico fishing, although challenging, will reward patient anglers who are willing to fish small flies and light tippets.