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River Reports


July 10, 2022 July 17, 2022

July 24, 2022 July 31, 2022  August 5, 2022  September 16, 2022

Fly Fishing Report and Forecast - Bitterroot River, September 16, 2022

We are moving into our fall fly fishing season and (saying good-bye to a long summer). The fishing has been steadily improving! Over the last few days, we have seen willing fish come to the dry while water levels have generally remained stable given some recent moisture.

The main stem of the Bitterroot as well as the West Fork of the Bitterroot River have both been good for dry fly fishing for a number of days now.  Early in the AM you can still find Tricos followed soon after by Spinners.  Our best approach has been swinging a small soft hackle for them, but we have had eats on a number of Trico patterns as well in sizes 18-20.

The day usually improves with the appearance of a Hecuba or two and you can transition to a bug you can see in size 10 and 12. Purple Haze, Brindle 'Chutes and Adams have all taken fish. BWOs, Mahoganies, and October Caddis have all been present providing many pattern choices:  Big for Hecuba’s, size 14 for Mahoganies and size 16 or 18 for BWOs. Hoppers and Ant patterns are waning, but if the grab is slow throw an ant, (two-toned red and black or red and cinnamon), and you can get some action when the Mayfly bite slows. Over all, it has been pretty good for the last few days.

The Clark Fork has also produced some great opportunities on pods of fish. Gently working Trico Spinner falls, very technical casting (Reach Cast), and perfect drifts are necessary. When it happens, hang on as these fish are strong. On light tippets you really have to get the rod in the fight to prevent break-offs. Darker Trico patterns, Spinner patterns and cluster patterns have had their moments as have small Purple Haze and small low floating cripples and soft hackles.

The swing bite is improving and we are anticipating a good season on both the Clark Fork and Bitterroot as we wait for the grass to settle on the Missouri.  Now is a great time to tune up locally if you have a Fall MO trip in your near future.

Obstacles remain ever-present on the Bitterroot and the West Fork so get a good report before you foray out and as always remain safe and courteous.

TO Team


Fly Fishing Report and Forecast - Bitterroot River, August 5, 2022

Well, the summer keeps moving on and we see our late summer events unfolding with red flag warnings, extreme fire danger, and several regional fires continuing to grow.  Local temperatures have been consistently warm with several days above the 100° mark.  Water temperatures have climbed as well, along with dropping water levels on our local rivers.

We are now in Hoot Owl Fishing Restrictions on the entire main stem of the Bitterroot River from its confluence with the Clark Fork River upstream to the confluence of the East Fork and West Fork Bitterroot River.  The Clark Fork is also under Hoot Owl fishing restrictions with no fishing allowed between 2:00 p.m. and midnight each day.  Current Waterbody Restrictions and Closures can be found on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website at https://fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions/waterbody-closures.   

Practice safe catch-and-release techniques to reduce stress on fish.  In keeping with the angler's motto "Keep 'em Wet: use single barbless hooks or crush barbs, land the fish quickly and limit handling by using a landing net.  Keep the fish calm and in the water as much as possible, handle gently as you remove the hook with pliers, hemostats or a hook removing tool providing support as you let the fish recover before quickly releasing it.  More detailed information can be found on the National Park Service's website at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fishing/how-to-safely-catch-and-release.htm.

Remember to carry a swift current style or stream thermometer to frequently check water temps where you are fishing. Water temps between 45° and 65° are optimum for trout.  Anything higher or lower causes additional stress on the fish and should be avoided. Fish early for the coldest water temps of the day.

The East Fork and the West Fork of the Bitterroot River are not under Hoot Owl and have been fishing with aggressive small fish providing enough looks to keep the day interesting.  Fish early, seek colder water and abide by all fishing regulations and restrictions.

We are seeing a couple of good fish every day with typical August fishing conditions. Hopper and Terrestrial fishing are picking up.  After you run a Purple Haze in the morning, spend your afternoon getting the right terrestrial on and some good fish will show. Ants, smaller hoppers and small beetles have taken fish this week.

There are still numerous hazards in the river so remain cautious and courteous to waders and other boats. Call the Fly Shop for an update before you float if you have not been on the stretch you are running in the recent past.  Walk and wade opportunities are out there as well with fishing local creeks.  Remember to fish early and get off early. 

TO Team 



Fly Fishing Report and Forecast - Bitterroot River, July 31, 2022

Water temps are getting high, especially on the lower Bitterroot -- so fish early and get off early! The very hot weather of the last few days has definitely impacted the fishing, with mostly small fish rising for dry flies and the occasional larger fish taking a dropper. Small Purple Haze in the morning and a Stonefly dropper in the mid-morning to early afternoon has been the go-to but the fishing is slower this last week. A big golden to start the day can get a look as well. Hoppers and other terrestrials are the next series as we progress into August fly fishing.

We have largely put away our Spey rods until later this fall, but if you need to swing then a light tip and a flashy streamer can result in a good brown in the deep buckets.

With the continued falling water and high temps stay safe out there, there are numerous obstacles and at least one or more to watch out for on every beat of the Bitterroot now. Stay hydrated and take a break as needed; an afternoon in a raft is warm indeed.

We have a Red Flag Warning in effect today from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm for critical fire weather conditions resulting from gusty winds, low humidity, and unstable atmosphere.  Use caution outdoors while recreating or camping. Minimize fire danger.

TO Team  

Fly Fishing Report and Forecast - Bitterroot River, July 24, 2022

We continue to enjoy good fishing on the Bitterroot.  While we have entered our low and clear water time of the season, the fishing remains good but is getting tougher to get bigger fish to turn on a fly.  As we traditionally see during late July, water temps are also rising well into the middle 60°s, with stretches north of Hamilton trending even higher.  Practice proper catch and release techniques. Protect the fish as you “KEEP 'EM WET” and released quickly.

Golden Stone patterns in #10 and 12 are getting fish to look.  Dropping a perdigon or PT is a good way to start your day. We are still seeing Drakes and a few PMDs, so be ready with your Purple Haze as well. As we are looking towards the late July and August game get prepared for Terrestrial Time.  Hoppers, beetles, and ants all begin to be the go-to bug patterns.

Start small with hoppers and increase the size as we get to August.  Our favorite colors to use are yellow/gold, green/olive, pink, and purple.  Peach patterns also do well.  Don't forget your Plan B's which are available in all of these colors as well as the Original Tan and Peacock versions. Trail your favorite ant off the back and get close to banks, logs, root-balls, and shelves to get fish moving. Smaller fish are aggressive and opportunistic, but to get bigger fish to move your cast flies need to be tight to structure or deep in the slots where water temps remain cooler.

There are numerous obstacles on the Bitterroot this year and new channels choked with trees are present on several stretches, call the shop for the latest report and remain safe, and courteous. As always TO is here to help you with your fishing adventure in western Montana.

TO Team



Fly Fishing Report and Forecast -- Bitterroot River, July 17, 2022


The Bitterroot is in tremendous shape and fishing well. As we continue to enjoy a “good” water year, the river is falling quickly into norms and should continue to fish well over the coming weeks. However, BE ADVISED, there are numerous changes to the Bitterroot River this season as it has continued to wander. Numerous obstacles and woody debris have been reported in the river in the form of Log Jams, Sweepers and Strainers. Additional hazards will appear as river flows and water levels continue to drop. 

If floating, make sure you can see the line to take prior to going through tight or blind areas.  Check river reports, local fly shops, Montana FWP announcements, and social media for daily updates as to changing river conditions.  Remember to practice water safety.  Wear life jackets.  "When in doubt, get out." Scout the river ahead for the safest route downriver.  It may be necessary to portage people and boats around obstacles.  Report any new hazards to others.  Be prepared, stay alert and safe while enjoying the outdoors this season.

The Bitterroot River is fishing well. We look forward to this time of the season every year.  When a Purple Haze is taking fish, you know all is well…. Fishing Stones in the AM till the fish key on Mays is the typical pattern we follow during the day. Your favorite Golden Stone pattern in #10 or 12 will get it done. As you transition to Mays, a #10, 12, or 14 in a Haze will do the trick.  If you get fish that refuse, work a PMD Cripple to close the deal. Plan B’s, Purple Hazes, Chad’s specialty ties, and Last Chance style Cripples will keep you busy getting looks. “Keep 'em wet”, barbless, and be kind to the fish when you need that photo.

Remain safe and courteous and, as always, if we can help give us a call at the shop.

TO Team


Fly Fishing Report and Forecast July 10, 2022


The dry fly fishing on the Bitterroot River has been good this week. Golden Stones, from the large nocturnal to the standard size 12, have fished well. Mayflies have consistently produced in the afternoons. For those who have braved the thunderstorms in the afternoons the fishing has certainly been worth it, and we have seen some great afternoon fishing and expect more of the same this coming week.

Brindle 'Chutes, Purple Haze, and Stonefly patterns are all good options. If you are looking for some unique adaptations, visit the shop for some locally tied styles. When fish start looking sideways, try any number of cripple patterns to close the deal.

We are having a great year for water levels so far. Fish are healthy, but remember to keep 'em wet, use barbless hooks, limit pictures, and get them back into easy water for the release. There is plenty of traffic from guides and clients to fun fishing and floating, so stay courteous and safe.

Please take note that there is a substantial obstacle just below Lone Pine, so look at it prior to running that section. There has been a way around it on river right, but as flows continue to drop it is becoming dangerous. Lower water levels will expose additional water hazards as the season progresses. 

The North Fork of the Blackfoot River is muddied up and blown out due to the recent hailstorms and new floating debris. The East Fork of the Bitterroot River is also showing some color.  Be cautious and alert to changing conditions.

Have a great week of fishing and floating and, as always, if you need anything to complete your fishing adventure our TO team is ready to help.


Fly Fishing Report and Forecast July 2, 2022

The Bitterroot River is finally dropping into shape. Although the Forks have fished well, we are happy to get back out on the main stem of the Bitterroot as fishing is picking up there as well.

Goldens in size #12, 10, and 8 are taking fish. PMD patterns and Drakes are also producing well. The norm is to start with a dropper and, as soon as you start getting a few grabs on top, get to that single dry and put it in the tight spots near the bank. Water remains high, so stay cautious and alert to potential hazards and changing conditions.  As the summer season progresses, things are really looking good for a nice July with plenty of water to keep the fish happy.

Traffic on the river remains high and with the warm weather recreational floating activity will increase, so stay courteous and observe water safety guidelines.  Be mindful to watch for the obstacles that are always present in the Bitterroot.

We are not swinging as much now, but as the Clark Fork gets into shape, we will get out and chase the trout with two-handers and are excited to chase those great CF fish.

Have a great holiday weekend and safe and Happy 4th of July.   


The TO Team are available at the Fly Shop to meet all your fishing needs.



Fly Fishing Report and Forecast May 29, 2022

Bitterroot snowpack 187%. Bitterroot River CFS afternoon readings: Darby 5200, West Fork of the Bitterroot 1720, and Bell Crossing 8060. No fishing currently until water levels and flows become safe.

It is difficult to predict when we will be back on our local waters, but it likely won’t be for some time. Keep watching flows and checking with your local fly shop, as we may get some safe windows to fish in the upcoming days and weeks.

The Missouri River has fished well this week and the Swing Bite continues to be strong. Soft hackles on Scandi lines or very light tips with Buggers are producing. The nymph bite has been good all spring and, with the exception of days of high wind conditions, we have done well. All the classics are producing with favorite patterns being small Perdigons in green, Frenchies, and Tail Water Sows.  Dry windows occur primarily in the afternoon and pods of fish grinding on BWOs are common. Caddis patterns are also producing, especially in the canyon.
The Missouri River continues to produce some nice fish and is currently your best choice for fly fishing opportunities as our local rivers continue to run high and fast. 

Have a great week and, as always, if you need anything come see us at the Fly Shop, order online, or give us a call.

Wishing you a safe Memorial Day observance in remembrance of those who have given their lives for freedom.

TO Team


Fly Fishing Report and Forecast May 23, 2022

Snowpack level today is at a whopping 176%! Current flows on the Bitterroot this morning were 848 Cubic Feet per Second at the West Fork Gauge, 2,440 CFS at the Darby Gauge, and 4,140 CFS at the Bell Crossing Gauge. After four days of steady and dropping flows the Bitterroot is now on a roller coaster ride.

With warmer weather coming this week, we will see another bump in flows. With increasing flows and the speed of the river, this is the part of the season we spend most of our time on the Missouri River. Our current recommendation is to spend some quality time tying flies for the next hatch or spend some time on the Missouri chasing trout.

If you do fish the Bitterroot, be alert, remain cautious, and stay strictly to back channels. Technique: Subsurface rigs using nymphs primarily. On cloudy days try chucking streamers. In future reports we will begin to report significant obstacles to boating/floating as the water crests and recedes. 

The Missouri has fished well all season, but these last few days have been very good for us. While there is a lot of traffic, we are catching fish and catching big fish as well. Missouri nymph patterns include your favorite BWO and PMD patterns. Continue to adjust depth as the day progresses and follow the fish as they rise in the water column. Caddis dry opportunities exist in the afternoon and evening. We were able to get dry eats when we found fish rising from protected lies.

The Missouri should continue to fish well, and though it gets lots of attention (especially on weekends), it is well worth the effort. As always, remain courteous and patient and don’t forget your cold weather gear as we saw 3-4 seasons in a day this last week.

The Swing Bite on the Missouri has been good with lots of grabs and some nice fish to hand. Light tips and bugger patterns remain consistent. Scandi lines with soft hackles produce well in the afternoon. Weeds are not bad at all, and fish are moving into faster water. Getting that tightline grab remains a shop favorite. If you love the two-hander the Missouri is a great option.

The Swing Bite on our local rivers is off and we are anxiously waiting for summer flows so we can get back on the Bitterroot and the Clark Fork, in particular. It’s a good time to clean your lines and organize your bugs as the summer season will be here soon!

FORECAST: A difficult thing to see given the snowpack and current weather patterns. We anticipate a long runoff season with frequent bumps and then periods of steady or dropping flows that will provide short windows of fishing and floating. While hard to predict, it certainly bodes well for our water levels throughout the summer months. After last year, that is a welcome development as we continue through this spectacular water level year.

Have a great week and stay safe.  The Fly Shop is open daily and poised to help you with all your fly-fishing needs.

TO Team


Fly Fishing Report and Forecast May 17, 2022

149% Snowpack -- Wow!  After enjoying a week of steady and dropping flows, we are now beginning to see the bump in flows we have all been expecting. 

Fishing this past week has been good, and if fishing in the middle of May is factored in, then it has been great!  A few days this week will have significant warmer temps at night.  The advent of spring runoff has begun.  We will end the week with slightly cooler temps and rain showers.  We are excited about the possibility of good water levels throughout our summer season, as long as we get a measured release and not the big blowout of last May/June. 

Caddis in the evening and Blue Wings on cloudy days, with a smattering of March Browns have been the dry fly action --usually middle afternoon to evening. Nymphs are the way to go in the morning or until you see a couple of boils.  Anglers still need to seek fish in the slow backwater channels, inside seams, and just below the shelves where we consistently find them in higher flows.

The Swing Bite has been pretty good, but it takes cloudy weather to help.  Finding fish where you can get a good swing has been the primary challenge, but once you do find them, stay on them as fish are still grouped up.  The Missouri River continues to fish well with Soft Hackles becoming the primary way of getting that tightline grab we enjoy so much.

The summer forecast is optimistic primarily based on the strength of the snowpack.  Wade safe, watch for obstacles, strainers, and floating debris.  Be alert and expect river conditions to change quickly as the week progresses.  Be protective of redds and safely enjoy what remains of this last window of fishing before the snowpack begins to release.  Better fishing opportunities will come once the rivers have stabilized in June.  We are eagerly anticipating our next hatch of Salmonflies.



Fly Fishing Report and Forecast May 9, 2022

Our snowpack is excellent at 115% as of May 8th. This is great news for our summer season. Following last year's historically low water conditions, we are certainly excited about this summer's fishing opportunities.

​Fishing this past week has been tough, rising water has driven fish deep and into difficult to access lies. Fish are not aggressively chasing bugs--yet. That will come soon as our Salmon flies make an appearance in June.

​If you fish, go deep with pink worm patterns with tungsten beads, your favorite big stone nymph, and perdigons (size 14) in a March Brown pattern. Watch for obstacles and moving timber and stay safe.

​This is a great time to fish the Missouri! Steady flows, aggressive fish and changing weather; a great Montana combination.

​The Swing bite here in Western Montana has been equally slow for the same reasons as the one-hand game but remains strong and consistent on the Missouri River. Buggers, soft hackles, and bright streamers are all taking fish. Tips remain the primary, but in the afternoon break out your Scandi and a poly-tip or a tapered leader and swing in the film to chase those exciting surface boils and grabs.

​Safe fishing this week. Get your chores done, June is coming quick!

​TO Team


Fly Fishing Report and Forecast May 1, 2022


Our Snowpack is better than good at 110% and our rivers are holding steady for now.  We are anticipating another week of good fishing conditions.  The Bitterroot has fished consistently well for the past few days with good afternoon hatches of March Brown (Amolitas) and BWOs. Fish size #12-14s for the March Browns and size #16 for the Blue Wings. Purple Haze, Copper Haze, and cripple patterns have all produced. You may still find fish looking for a Skwala, but largely that hatch has passed, and the fish are looking at mayflies.

As we progress through this week into next, remain vigilant for new obstructions, floating debris, and changing conditions as warmer temps increase river flows and spring runoff affects fishing opportunities.

The Swing bite has picked up on our local rivers and fish are more aggressively chasing streamers, small buggers, and soft hackles. Tips remain the main technique, but Scandi and other dry lines are coming to the fore as fish are chasing soft hackles in size #12 and #14. The Swing bite on the Missouri has remained excellent and with low water, steady flows, and this year’s high fish count the Missouri has been a great destination and is really producing well. Light Tips and small buggers, Scandi Lines with poly tips or tapered leaders, and soft hackles in the afternoon are taking fish.  Patterns we use include Thin Mints, Olive Woolly Buggers, Intruders, Sparrows, and Carey Specials.

Enjoy this late window of good fishing conditions and, as always, remain safe and courteous on our rivers. TO has all your flies, supplies, and gear as well as availability for guided trips.


Fly Fishing Report April 11, 2022

The action on top for Skwala patterns has been good and consistent. Typically, between 12-1 pm, activity has begun in the slow water near structure on the bank. Later in the afternoon there are more fish looking in the tail-outs and inside seams.  Target the slow water and foam lines near large structures (wood, boulders, and rocky points).

The main river has fished well while the Upper Bitterroot and the West Fork have also produced some nice days.  Fish are targeting both Skwala patterns and March Brown patterns. The nymphs remain effective until the dry bite is on.  If you see a Skwala adult, it is on!

Take note of the incoming weather.  We are having a significant weather event this week with cold and snow and high winds, so remain safe, tie some bugs, and hit it again after this weather passes.

Remain vigilant for rising water and debris towards the end of the week and this weekend. The long-range forecast for next week looks good and we should have a banner week on top, as fish become aggressive as the water warms.

The swing bite has been ok--not great yet. Tips and streamers have been the most consistent. As the water warms next week and Skwala Nymphs move to the shoreline, we expect the swing bite to improve, and we expect grabs on March Brown patterns, PT Soft Hackles, and the like.

Stay safe, remain courteous, and we will see you on the river after this weather system passes.

TO Team


Fishing Report April 6, 2022

And here we go!

The best of the Skwala hatch is here and the Bitterroot is fishing well. Aside from the last couple of days of major barometric events, the fishing has been steady and the fish are looking up.

This week we have been fishing a single dry only and we expect that to continue. However, if you need to get subsurface, start using your favorite March Brown Nymph pattern as a dropper. The March Brown is appearing in spots along the river and will become prolific soon.

Skwala patterns in size 10 and 8 remain productive, but don’t overlook small patterns early in the day as the fish have been feeding on the Nemoura stonefly. Flows have been dropping and should remain steady although we might see a bump after Friday's expected high temps. On Saturday, we will see another cool down.

Fish slow water on the inside seams and near concentrations of wood located under banks. These will remain your prime target areas.

The swing bite has improved and is going to get better through the month. While tips and streamers remain the go-to, we are starting to throw Scandis. Fish higher in the water column with Buggers and large wet flies for the Skwala, as well as wet flies in size 14 for March Brown nymphs.

As always, watch for obstacles whether floating or wading and stay safe. Spring season is in full swing, so reach out to us in the shop for all your fishing needs or for guided trips.

TO Team


Fishing Report JULY 17, 2021

We are seeing afternoon water temps rise on the main rivers above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. So now is a great time to go up high and fish the endless creeks and tributaries in western Montana where the water is colder, and the fish are not stressed from pressure or high water temps.

We are noticing a lot of caddis activity on the surface in the evening and under the surface for most of the day. When fishing the creeks, I like to bring a dry fly rod and a tight line nymphing rod. Comb over the hole with your dry first using a Caddis Variant size 12-16 then get down deep with two heavy nymphs. You will be amazed at the size of fish holding down low. Lately a Peeping Caddis and a heavy 3mm Tungsten Hare’s ear has been the ticket. Think Caddis factory!!

With how dry it has been, you should get ready for a great hopper season. Start keeping a few hopper patterns in your box and try them out now!

We all know how great grip and grin photographs are and for proof seekers this is important. However, in July and August especially, try keeping the fish in the water at all times and release them as quick as you can. Instead of grip and grin shots, try getting fish in the water shots -- either in your net or on the surface of the water. This helps ensure that the fish remains safe and unharmed. Let’s work together to keep Montana the Last Best Place to fly fish for all anglers.

If you are looking for a great walk and wade experience, call the shop and book with one of our guides today. We would love to introduce you to some of the untamed water that surrounds us in western Montana.

Tight Lines,

The Total Outfitters Crew


Fishing Report June 28, 2021

The Bitterroot is in good shape and casting dry flies right now is the ticket. We are seeing Green and Brown Drakes as well as Yellow Sallies and the Golden Stones are out in abundance. You’ll find PMD’s in the morning and evenings, but the trout are preferring the bigger drakes it seems.

Casting a single dry such as #12- #14 Brindle Chute or Purple Haze is very effective. Tandem dries are also a good bet starting with a Plan B or Bullet Head Golden and followed by your favorite May fly pattern. When it seems that the dry fly bite has slowed be persistent and present your fly in the likely spots such as seems, and around structure. Trout like the edges where two currents come together. Drop offs and nervous looking water and inside bends of the river always hold trout! The Dry Dropper game is very effective as well. Lots of anglers use the Chubby Chernobyl to suspend their nymphs from. Jig head nymphs in Pheasant tail and Hares’ ear and all types of Peridgons are very effective when presented in a drag free drift. I like a nymph with a pink or orange hot spot!

Temperatures for the next week will approach the Century mark so get on early and keep the fish wet. Play the fish to the net as quickly as possible. We do not need to love these fish to death so handle them as quickly as possible!

Swing by the shop to get the latest information and gear for your summer time fishing!


Fishing Report June 13, 2021

The Bitterroot has largely dropped into shape and is fishing well. It remains fast, so look for the inside seams, shelves and structurally protected lies for fish. We have seen the Salmon Flies progress along the river, and they are now present on both forks.

We are also beginning to see more Gold Stones on the main stem along with PMDs and Yellow Sallies. Fishing has been primarily subsurface. For the dedicated DFO angler there are fish to be had on top with well placed drifts.

Gold Stones in several sizes will take fish and PMDs will get some looks as well. In the late afternoon stay on the lookout for the Caddis as we have seen several fish take them in Size 14. While you don’t need a blanket hatch to be successful, you can transition to the Caddis after you have seen one.

Pat’s Stones, PT Jigs, Frenchies and Perdigons will all take fish. Obstacles are prevalent along the river, so if floating use caution and take the time to scout blind corners. The river is busy, so remain courteous and provide lots of space for the wading angler. Temperatures are warming up and the weather is good. We expect the river to drop into comfortable wading levels and will soon see Gold Stones in greater numbers. Of course, the Drakes will begin soon as well.

Visit the shop for updates and some of Chad’s special hand-tied flies and some great patterns unique to TO. Stay safe and have a great week of fishing! Conditions should be good, and the dry bite will improve daily.


Creek Fishing Report May 18, 2021

This time of year runoff is in full swing, the main rivers are muddy and high and the fishing can be a challenge. After the 3rd Saturday in May, the creeks open and are very productive here in western Montana. During runoff the creeks will also be high but there is plenty of slow pockets and deep cuts that hold fish. These fish haven’t seen a fly in a long time and with the short feeding season these fish are eager for any attractor on the surface or down below.

The other day on the upper west fork I lost count of how many cutthroats I caught on a size 10 brindle chute, you will catch a lot of smaller fish, but I’m always surprised at the bigger ones too. I recommend using a 3/4wt rod 8 foot or shorter. If you have a Fiberglass or bamboo rod these will be a match made in heaven for the creeks. If you have never caught a 12 inch cutty on a light weight rod your missing out, they fight hard and can really put a bend in the rod.

When going to a high mountain creek make sure to check your weather apps this time of year as the weather can change with little warning.

But even in high water you can pick apart the edges and pockets. All applications will work but don’t forget the fish will come up and eat a dry fly!

Total Outfitters offers full service walk and wade trips up the creeks and are great for people looking for a lot of dry fly action and beautiful scenery. Give us a call and book your Creek adventure today 406-493-1502 or book online.

Top flies right now on the creeks:

Brindle Chutes size 10-16

Caddis Variant size 12-16

Elk Hair Caddis size 12-16

Parachute Adam’s size 10-16

Yellow or orange Stimulators size 10-16

Purple haze size 10-16


Natural Hares ear size 12-16

Pheasant tails size 12-16

Pats rubber legs size 10-14

Prince nymph size 10-16

San Juan worm size 8-12

Perdigons of all kinds size 12-18

Woolly buggers size 6-10


Go small or micro


River Report for the Bitterroot April 27, 2021

Pre Run off Fishing Report

Skwala are still around but the trout have been keen to take a March Brown in sizes 10,12, and 14 lately. Brindle Chutes and Purple Hazes will fill the bill nicely for these tasty mayflies. The Skwala patterns that are still producing are the Rastaman, Half down Skwala and the Floater in the Pool. I like to keep them on the smaller size in say 12&14.

The dry fly bite starts when the mercury rises so look to throw the single dry around 2-3pm. Keep an eye out for when the bugs start to show up and soon after the trout will notice them and begin to rise to them.

This is the best time to fish as you can target specific fish. A downstream presentation is always best. Make sure there is no drag in the fly and as always your first cast needs to be your best cast. A 9ft. 4x tapered leader will work great for casting to dry fly eating trout. But until the dry fly bite starts Dry droppers are a good way to cover the water. Trout will likely take the dropper and we like to throw the always popular rubber leg as well as a variety of hares ears and pheasant tails. Don’t be ashamed of the squirmy worm as it flat out gets the job done!

The trout Spey option for fishing our local Rivers is a terrific option and the swing bite has been better this week. We were casting streamers like complex twist buggers, kreelex and thin mints to get the tight line grab. Sinking lines were the secret to getting the fly in front of the fish, however we did get a few grabs on soft hackles near the surface. Patience is the key to success and don’t be afraid to change tactics to achieve success.

With the warm temperatures forecasted this week expect to see the river rise significantly. When overnight lows are above 40 degrees we will see the river blow out and become very difficult if not impossible to fish at times. This means it’s time to head to your favorite tail water where the flows are controlled and the fishing can be epic. Or you can get behind the vice and make sure you have plenty of salmon flies tied up because it won’t be long before we are fishing the big bugs! Stay safe out there and tight lines!


River Report for the Bitterroot April 17, 2021

What a wild weather week it has been with lows in the 20s and strong winds but finishing the week the weather is beautiful with sunny days in the 60s and through it all the fishing has been good. In the mornings it has been a subsurface game with Pat Stone’s as the most productive bug but we did get windows where the dry bite started and was sustained for a couple hours. It is critical that you get your presentation to the right spot, the eye of the seam, tight into structure in slower water, and deep in the buckets below the shelves. We are seeing Skwala’s, March Browns, and Blue Wing Olives in the afternoon on cloudy days. Many of the fish we saw this week seem to be the bigger ones and several big Rainbows, Cuttys, and hybrids were taken. With the nice weather we should see a bump in flows but the fish are active and getting more aggressive so remember the first good drift usually gets the take and especially if it’s the first drift through the target lie.

Obstacles abound in the Bitterroot so if you’re rowing take the time to look around blind corners and watch the river not just the fly! Bugs we like this week, Pat Stones in coffee and mottled green, pheasant tail jigs, Perdigons, bullet head Skwalas, Plan B’s, Purple Haze, Brindlechutes, and the always good Adams.

The swing bite was a little slow early in the week but picked up as the week warmed, in the mornings we are still using tips to get deep in the deep slow runs but in the afternoon we have been able to throw scandi’s and combine a soft hack with a Skwala pattern, tips we like are Poly extra fast sink, Imow tips in T-8 in 71/2 half and 21/2 half float and Imow in 5/5 tip and float. Patterns that produced were thin mints, Kreelex, Montana Intruders and Rios Pocket Rocket. Soft hackles we like are Pheasant tail SH in 14 and Sparrows in 12