July is a great month to dip a line on the Bitterroot River. 

When I owned my fly shop, we lived and almost died by the hatch charts that we created over the years.

Sometimes we were off by a week or two, but for the most part we were right on with the hatches of the Bitterroot. Now that the high water is past, there are many hatches that we will see during the next four to six weeks.

The golden stone will be the primary hatch for the large stoneflies for the next couple of weeks and sporadic throughout the summer.

The next major hatches throughout July include pale morning dun, pale evening dun, western green drake, ameletus (no common name), yellow sallie, lime sallie, grannom caddis, spotted sedge caddis and grasshoppers. If you can’t catch fish on one of these patterns through the morning, day and evening then you better reconsider fly fishing and use worms.

July has always been the big hatch month where many types of mayflies, caddis and stoneflies appear on a regular basis. Fishing is always great, especially the first two weeks of the month before the weather starts to warm the temperatures of the river and the fish become more lethargic and uncooperative in their eating habits.

So far July has been cooler than normal and it appears that we will have some cool weather on the way for the remainder of the month. Perhaps this summer will be a cool one that we seem to have every four or five years. I hope we don’t have any fires to disrupt the fishing and we can have a good fishing summer.

Another great story comes from the East Fork fisherman this week.

The East Fork water levels are dwindling but not enough to limit the float fishing on the upper parts. Brown trout are also in the East Fork this time of year and migrate out of the main Bitterroot to seek cooler water and insects to feed on.

The West Fork has been pretty famous for brown trout fishing the previous two years but the East Fork is really coming on. The browns are very aggressive they will travel some good distances to find some territory that suits them. Browns are also very social so that they like each other’s company but will drive the rainbows and cutthroats out of a territory.

It has been a concern of FWP over the past five or six years that the more native fish are losing ground to the brown trout. The Bitterroot River has been a difficult river to protect wild and native species but fishermen love that there are such a variety of fish available to them throughout the river.

Fishing this weekend should be good on the upper East and West Forks until the larger fish migrate back down into the main river to find deeper water. Stick with the Golden Stone patterns to start your day in the early mornings and move to the mayflies and caddis when the sun hits the water.

Good Fishing,

Bill Bean.