Running beneath the granite faces of the Bitterroot Mountains south of Missoula, “the Root,” as it’s known locally, is a braided, accessible river in a spectacular valley that fishes well for most of the year. But it’s most well known for its skwala stonefly hatch, sometime in March, when anglers have almost succumbed to cabin fever after a long Montana winter. After the skwala, the river has strong hatches of blue winged olives, pale morning duns, green drakes, and caddis. Ron Beck, at the Missoulian Angler, enjoys fishing the September trico hatch on the lower Bitterroot near Missoula. “It’s a lot different fishing than the Blackfoot,” he says. “You need small flies, light tippet, and delicate presentations.” Chief Looking Glass is a good access for wade anglers, and boaters might try floating between Angler’s Roost, just south of Hamilton, to Silver Bridge. If the fishing is slow, restore your spirits with a Single Hop pale ale at Bitterroot Brewery in Hamilton.
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