Fishing The Bitterroot River – Early March

With forecasted temps to be in the mid-fifties, we loaded up the fishing rig with waders, rods, gear, and lunches and headed to Corvalis, Montana to fly fish the Bitterroot River.

Last fall while fishing with friends, Tim found the perfect “old man” spot to fish – a long, deep corner pool complete with a big, dead tree on shore for sitting and watching the river. With the river at it’s lowest flow this winter, wading would be easy. And with the abundant sunshine, we’d be warm enough to fish all day.

Bitterroot River Fishing for Rainbow Trout

Casting Dry Flies to Rising Fish in March on the Bitterroot

Bitterroot River Streamer Fishing

Starting With a Streamer

Snow-Capped Mountains

Montana’s Bitterroot Valley is just stunning. The towering mountains with their rocky, jagged peaks create the backdrop for awesome Montana fishing photos.

On this March day, the snowpack sits at 115% of normal – great news for the coming summer season. A normal snowpack means good summer river flows and a diminished risk of forest fires.

Afternoon Hatch

We arrived at Tim’s spot just a little before noon. High, thin clouds veiled the sky but allowed the sun’s rays to warm the air and make the day pleasant. I busied myself with setting up camera equipment while Tim tied on a fly and waded in.

A few midges were visible on the surface. Not much time passed before Tim had a small rainbow hooked and the fun began.

Bitterroot River Cutthroat Trout

Bitterroot River Cutthroat Trout

Sunday Short – Dry Fly Fishing the Bitterroot River in March

Stoneflies and Midges

Nemoras, also known as spring stoneflies, are small, dark bugs that arrive before the well-known bugs of the West appear in the coming months. For hungry trout who look up in late winter, nemoras, midges, and baetis are on the menu.

On this fine, early March day, as the afternoon progressed, a buffet of insects flowed downstream; passing unnoticed by most trout.

A few trout sipped midges and nemoras off the surface in slow-water seams. Here we is where we found success with tiny bwo patterns, emergers, and Griffith’s gnats.


When to Fly Fish the Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot River flows through a wide, and relatively low elevation valley in Western Montana. Fishing can be very good mid-March through the end of October.

The Bitteroot River is catch-and-release only for trout Dec 1 through the the third Saturday in May before the regular season opens – Fishing is with artificial lure only. The regular season opens the third Saturday in May and continues through the end of November.

The spring, pre-runoff season can be productive. Local outfitters offer spring fishing specials.

In summer, the Bitteroot boasts lots of hatches such as Salmonfly, PMDs, Tricos, and more. The autumn afternoon BWO hatch is a favorite before packing the fishing gear away for winter.

Snow-capped mountains rise to the West

Snow-capped Mountains Rise to the West

Casting to Rising Trout in March

Casting to Rising Trout in March

Bitterroot Catching Trout On Dry Flies in March

Fish On!

Drifting the Bitterroot Near Hamilton , MT

Drifting the Bitterroot Near Hamilton , MT

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