The Missoula Fishing Report
The Big Picture
Skwalas. When will the dry fly fishing be what we have all been dreaming about since November? Well your guess is as good as mine. The general idea is that Skwala’s need a water temperature between 42-47 degrees to hatch. Some people agree on the lower end and other agree on the upper end of that scale. The cool thing about Skwala’s is that they are a relatively “New” bug in the research sense. They have only recently (20 years) become a popular hatch and noticed by most anglers. Sure some people have been fishing the hatch longer, but for the entire community they are a new bug. The other piece of the puzzle is getting temp readings from the river. The USGS stations offer temp readings, but only on a seasonal timeframe. So to get a temp you are going to have to do it the “old school” way. Go out and stick your hand in the water. The only way to know for sure when the water is warm enough for Skwalas to show up is to take a temp reading when you start to see the bugs. Do it this year. It will give you a leg up for future seasons and a little science never hurt anyone.
March Brown/Rhithrogena/What Ever You Call Em’s: “The Difference Maker”. Some days the big stonefly pattern just doesn’t produce. When you are flummoxed and there are fish eating, Throw the mayfly. These bugs are the first big mayflies to show us since fall. There are many days when the trout will completely ignore the skwala and shift their focus to the mayflies. When that happens you can have some fantastic headhunting or some great pods of fish to shoot at.
When,Where, and How: This weekend and next week look to be about as beautiful as we can hope for in the spring. That being said, expect for everyone to have the same idea. Go Fishing. Cabin fever is the worst this time of year and a day on the water is a perfect remedy. If you are one of those people who cant stand seeing other folks on the water it’s time to think out of the box. Don’t out your boat in at Tucker or Bell at 10am. Maybe go for a long walk down a Bitterroot side channel that boats cant fit into. Maybe explore a part of The Blackfoot that you have never been to. Walk and wade the upper Clark Fork. Or spend a day on Upper Rock Creek. We are lucky in Missoula to have over 300 miles of water within an hours drive. Don’t confine yourself to 15 miles of The Bitterroot if you want some solitude.
All of that being said, there is some fantastic fishing on the main stem of The Bitterroot during the Skwala hatch. Remember that these are early spring stoneflies. They ARE NOT Goldens and Salmonflies. That means fish the early spring water. Of course you could catch a fish or two off the fast banks and the “Bouncy Summer Water” but the majority of your success will be on the slow inside bends. The same place you nymph in the winter. The “Boring” water. Have faith and let that fly drift. Don’t get antsy and cast over and over again, the fish can’t eat it in the air. Leave your fly alone once it’s out there.
Whatever you need for spring fishing is in the shop. As I am writing this boxes from MFC, Simms, Echo, And Spirit River are piling up with flies, gear, rods, materials, and other goodies for the spring. We are fully stocked and ready to rock this spring. If you need to tie a few more bugs come on in and let us help with your game plan. As always we are here for you. Let us help with Missoula Spring Fishing.
…Because You Fish
*March Spring Guide Specials- Full day guided trip for 2 anglers only $385*