Itís always hard to work on a sunny day. Early summer
in Montana has the Bitterroot Valley radiating in all her glory.
The late summer days can get hot, but today is going to peak
at about 81 degrees and the river is starting to fish well.
Iím only going to make it at this desk until 5 oíclock.
Fly fishing on the Bitterroot River really begins in March
with the Skwala hatch. Like many freestone rivers in the
West, the Bitterroot has a healthy stonefly population.
The Skwala comes first and then is followed by the Goldens and
the Salmonfly. Yellow Sallies and Bitterroot Stones are other
hatches that occur through most of the summer. The Salmonflies
are strongest on the upper end of the river and thatís where
Iím heading tonight.
Following the stoneflies are a variety of mayflies, caddis
and hoppers. Check in with the local fly shops to find out whatís
The early summer days in western Montana are almost Artic
in length. Tonight Iíll be able to fish until nearly 10. My
destination is Spring Gulch Campground on the East Fork of the
Bitterroot River. This fork follows Highway 93 south of Darby
to the small town of Sula. The East Fork has been manipulated
by the construction of the highway, but still provides some
excellent wade fishing opportunities. And though the fish are
smaller on average than the main Bitterroot River or the West
Fork, a lucky fisherman can still coax the occasional hog to
Fly fishing has fast become a booming industry in the Bitterroot
Valley. Hundreds of fishing guides work on the entire length
of the river, including the two forks. And according to
industry experts, the tourism associated with river recreation
bring millions of dollars each year into the valleyís economy.
Wading or floating the river can be a quick and easy get
away from the daily grind. Since the river flows through or
near every town in the valley, good fishing is usually just
minutes from your door.
The Bitterroot is a relatively slow river. Itís easy to float
and fish with just a little preparation and guidance from any
local fly shop or sporting goods store. However, the river
can also be deceptively dangerous. This gentle river flows mainly
through pine and cottonwood bottoms. This woody material provides
important homes for fish and aquatic life, but they can also
be dangerous to unsuspecting floaters. A little caution and
preparation can go a long way.
The Bitterroot River has all the characteristics of a great
trout stream Ė deep cutbanks, long riffles, gravel bars, long
deep holes, and braided channels. The average trout on the Bitterroot
is about 14 inches, but 18 to 20 inch fish are not uncommon.
Plus access is not a problem with nearly 30 official access
points along the entire river.
So now itís my turn to get away. Thirty minutes after
walking out my door, Iíll be waist deep in the East Fork with
(hopefully) my rod bent on beautiful Cutthroat Trout.
Valley Montana Activities, Sports and Things To Do
Camping | Canoeing
| Conservation |
Cross Country Skiing
| Downhill Skiing |
Fly Fishing |
Hiking | Horse
Care | Hunting |
Look Outs |