Missoula Fly Fishing Report 3/26

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot river fly fishing has been good lately with some decent dry fly action from late morning into the afternoon. With these colder nights we’ve been seeing, focus on nymphing in the morning and switch to a dry dropper or single dry during the afternoon. We are still not seeing many adult Skwalas but with the warm weather forecast, we should start seeing plenty. This weekends warm up might bring another push of water but nothing that should keep you from fishing. It’s been a long winter and this warm up is exactly what we all need in our life. Go enjoy it!
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

Fly fishing the Blackfoot River is still cold and not much has changed as far as the fishing. It got a little off color with the last warm up but has leveled off and cleared up. We have been floating a few stretches and chucking streamers for a few good fish a day. The Blackfoot River is not a numbers game this time of year but focusing on slow inside seems and runs will get it done. This is a great option if you want the river to yourself, just don’t expect heavy action all day long. Nymphing and streamer fishing is the way to go.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River

Clark Fork fly fishing is still pretty slow for the most part. Like the Blackfoot, it got a little off color with the last warm up and then started to clear up. Expect waterflows to bump a little with the warm up bringing more off color conditions. We have seen a few Skwala adults out but not enough to get the fish to excited at this point. Should be a decent option until the water turns dark as we expect to see with this warm up. Focus on slower water and inside seems with nymphs and streamers and possibility of some decent dry fly action in the afternoon.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

Fly fishing on Rock Creek is starting to warm up with very few adult Skwalas starting to show up. Not a great dry fly option by any means but it’s at least a start. We’ve heard good reports from the top stretches to the bottom. Nymphing is still your most effective strategy followed by streamers. There are a few fish looking up for dries in the afternoon but don’t expect much on dries. Like the rest of our streams, focus on your fishing on the slow walking pace water like inside seems and slow runs.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

March Hatches

Click any photo below to find out more information on each individual hatch. Includes life cycle, best fly patterns, helpful tips and where to find these hatches in your Western Montana fly fishing adventure.

The River Rant

Brought To You By The Beef Stick Eating Brown Trout

Well it’s official, the first Skwala sighting appears and we can’t stay off the water now. To early? Yes. Good Fishing? No. Good beer and Company? You Know it.

Every year it happens to our crew, we start fishing hard in February with streamers and nymphs and by the time we see the first Skwala in March, we prematurely throw a single dry on. There’s always a few of us that go dry or die way to early. If you put a dry on your nymph rig, it might make you feel better but we all know that dropper is going to catch the majority of the fish and the dry will lull you to sleep just to be woken up by one big rainbow smashing the dry which you miss. Yes, a few fish will come up and smash the big bug but this is our way of pretending not to nymph.

What ever floats your boat right? Or in this scenario, what ever floats your nymph.

Many of you have been pretty excited coming into our Missoula fly shop after hearing that Skwala’s started too hatch. We’re excited too but I hate to tell you that the weather forecast doesn’t look pretty for Skwala adults. This upcoming weekend weather is looking a little chilly for the big bugs and even a few nights of single digits. So turn that energy into streamers, nymphs and your tying bench for the time being.

This time of year is when Missoula fly fishing guides start scouting the river for new changes in the streams from last fall, make sure their boat and gear is in working order, and buy a new cooler because the lunch from the last trip hasn’t been cleaned out since October.

Missoula Fly Shops are constantly getting shipments of flies in and stocking up for the anticipation for a good Skwala hatch. But after a lousy spring fishing season in Misssoula last year, there’s a lot less stocking to do this year.

For us at the Missoulian Angler Fly Shop, we’ve been dedicating a lot of our time in preparing for our first annual Skwala Fest. We’ve been constantly getting shipments in of donations from our vendors in the form of product to raffle off. At this point we are pretty sure we’ve annoyed just about everyone of our facebook followers with constant shout outs for the Skwala Fest. Don’t worry though, we are less then a month away from the event and then we’ll give you a rest until the second annual event.

March fly fishing in Missoula can be hit and miss with the weather and often fluctuating water but it is one of our favorite times of year on the river and in the shop. On the river big fish chase streamers and more often then not you will find yourself on a stretch of water all to yourself with some of your best friends. Being the largest fly selection and fly tying selection in Western Montana, most Missoula fly fishing guides shop at our fly shop and they are some of our favorite people. They’re patient demeanor means they can deal with Georges rants and bubbly attitude, they are excited for the upcoming season and they get just as excited about our new patterns for the season as us. Missoula fly shops get a little lonely in the winter and seeing familiar faces like the guides who often stop in the shop every day from June until October brings the life back into our shop.

Missoula Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report for March 5th

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.

Bitterroot Skwala Hatch
Bitterroot Skwala

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.

-The MAngler

…Because You Fish

*March Spring Guide Specials- Full day guided trip for 2 anglers only $385*