We are digging out from yet another winter storm here in Missoula. This latest round has closed schools (unheard of in these parts), shut down interstates, and brought avalanches within the city limits. The bright side is that all of this fluffy white stuff will help ensure healthy stream flows through the summer, but at this point everyone is pretty much tired of winter. I’m sick of it too, but it has brought a certain unusual delight.
Most years the valley is buzzing in anticipation of the Skwala hatch by early March. This hatch has gained in popularity over time, but it has gotten a little out of hand since the advent of social media. Between the fly shops, college kids, and road trippers it’s a constant stream of posts, tweets, and pins all revolving around Skwalas. If one were to rely solely on these sources they might believe that the Skwala hatch is the most consistent unbelievable fishing of the year. This season the feed has been astonishingly quiet. Record cold and snow for February will do that. No grin-n-grins of trout on stonefly nymphs, no shots of PBRs chilling in a snowbank while wade fishing, no tweets of “3 trout looked at my Skwala dry today dude!” This February weather shut down the fishing in the valley and the social media stream.
It will be a little later start to the season than normal, but the weather forecast is for warmer temps and the thaw will begin. We will likely be on the water by next week to check the progress of the hatch. I’m excited because the trout will be a lot fresher than in years past. Most seasons a bad case of cabin fever results in anglers out on the water my mid-Feb. wading, floating, and generally pestering the trout with nymph rigs. This year they have been relatively untouched all month and that’s good news for spring fishing.