3 Tips for Fly Fishing the Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch

Photo by Les Korcala

-Tip #1 Highwater Back eddies

Wonder why you’ve never heard of the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch in Missoula Montana? That’s because our rivers are typically blown out during their May emergence, with high and murky water. However, some years have short windows of water clarity in May that can be good fly fishing for a few days. During these windows the water is still high and off color, but if you hit it right, you can have some pretty good dry fly fishing. In these scenarios, focus on slow back waters and eddies. Fish stack up in these slow moving spots during these conditions, often the only place in the river trout can hold and feed consistently.

-Tip #2 Fish The Mouths

Fly fishing in Missoula after the third Saturday in May usually means fishing small tributaries or lakes because of the high muddy water in the Bitterroot River, Blackfoot River and Clark Fork River. However, that doesn’t mean that the big rivers are completely unfishable.  During these highwater conditions, focus where smaller creeks run into the main rivers, creating a nice clear streak of water right below the feeder creek. Oftentimes, the fish will stack up in these clear areas to feed. May is not prime dry fly fishing in Missoula, but clear water can create some great dry fly fishing with the Mother’s Day Caddis. The tributaries are are usually more productive, but don’t forget about the clear streaks.

-Tip #3 Nymph the Pupa

Contrary to popular belief, fish can and do feed during runoff. In these murky conditions, focus on fishing every inch of slow water along the edges of the rivers. Trout won’t move far because they can’t see far. Makes sense!  This is why you fish each spot hard, covering every part of the run. Many bugs are starting to move around during these conditions like Salmon Flies, Golden Stones, Green Drakes and Mother’s Day Caddis. The Mother’s Day Caddis are actively hatching, so lots of pupae are in the water. Though small, trout will eat them if you put it right in front of their faces. Again, focus on one run and nymph every inch rather than bouncing from spot to spot. Not many anglers are on the water at this time of year, which means you will probably have your choice of water. Find the fishiest looking place and fish it hard. Runoff is not the time to fish marginal water holding few trout. It’s time to fish the prime lies.

Additional Mother’s Day Caddis Resources