I wish I could report the Skwala hatch was in full swing on the Bitterroot. It’s not. Conditions are trending in the right direction with dropping streamflows, warm days, and a mild forecast, but the bugs aren’t out quite yet. I stopped several times on the water yesterday and looked in vain for an adult skwalas. While I didn’t find any bugs crawling around on the banks, there was no shortage of nymphs in shallows. Most of the skwala nymphs were 18″ to two feet from dry land and with the dropping flows there could be adults on the prowl by this weekend.
Our fishing on the Bitterroot was solid considering the conditions. All the fish we caught were on nymphs, and skwala nymph patterns proved to be most effective. The most active part of the day was from 2 o’clock on which is typical for this time of year. Fish can’t be found river wide yet and we had to focus on the slower insides and riffle edges to get eats.
Anglers who are used to fishing the Skwala hatch this time of year are in for some big surprises. Normally flows on the Bitterroot river are low and clear through most of March which is great for wade fisherman. This season the river is big, it will drop and clear in the next few days but I think river levels are going to remain high enough to be challenging for wade fisherman for most of the month. The upside is that these bigger flows will keep the Bitterroot’s alpha fish in play through the whole Skwala hatch. Keep an eye on those flows….the dry fly season is about to start.