State of the Skwala Hatch

POSTED ON March 27th  - POSTED IN Uncategorized
skwala stonefly

The scouts have arrived….the Skwala army should follow


The state of the Skwala hatch has been a hot topic of conversation lately around Missoula.  According to the social media outlets the hatch is going full bore, cast out a dry fly anywhere and reel in a monster trout.  The truth is somewhat different.  There are Skwalas out in certain spots, but they are not plentiful yet.  If you are in the right place at the right time you can enjoy a few hours of single dry fly fishing in the afternoon although there is no specific formula at this point to guarantee your success.  This past week we had boats seperated by only a few miles on the Bitterroot.  One boat had solid dry fly fishing while they other couldn’t buy a trout on the surface.  The dropper fishing has been fairly steady on the mid to lower Bitterroot while the upper river seems still a little cold to produce consistent results.  The fishing has been good it just hasn’t been the classic dry fly fishing yet that everyone is hoping for.  The bugs will pop in earnest soon.  When exactly?  Your guess is as good as mine but it could happen by tomorrow or the next day, or it could be next week but it will happen soon.  Until then the dry/dropper game will continue to put trout in the net on the Bitterroot and one of these afternoons they will start to feed hard on top.

double rainbow trout on the Bitterroot river

Double trouble in the net

If you are looking for less company on the river both Rock Creek and the Blackfoot river have been nymphing great this past week.  Standards like rubber legs and san juans have worked best and it pays to focus on the slower winter type water.  Not much for reliable information from the Clark Fork, but the one report relayed decent fishing with droppers and nymphs with about an hour dry fly window.  You can find pods of rising fish on midges around town to keep you busy for an hour or two but the main hatches are still a little ways out.  Fly fishing in the Missoula area is poised to bust loose soon.  Keep a sharp eye on the streamflows though because a couple warm nights or too much rain could put the fishing off for a few days.

Missoula Boat Building

POSTED ON March 17th  - POSTED IN Fishing Reports

The 2014 fishing season has started and it’s about to get busy here in Missoula.  While I still have the time I thought I would share some of our winter time activites when we can’t be out on the water.  My good friend, Karl Jones, is one of the best wooden boat builders in the west.  Production at Bitterroot Boatworks is limited because Karl is a full time guide, but every off-season he usually refinished a couple guide set-ups and finds a little time for some Missoula boat building.  I kept tabs on him this winter and produced a short video that’s worth a look.

The Wood Shed

Bitterroot Skwalas

POSTED ON March 14th  - POSTED IN Fishing Reports

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.

bitterroot skwalas

They’ll be here soon!

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.

Bitterroot river float during skwalas

Gorgeous day on the river

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.


Fishing Season??

POSTED ON March 6th  - POSTED IN Fishing Reports

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.

Montana snowstorm

Shoveling out once more

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.

springtime robin

This robin read the wrong tweets

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.

Missoula Fishing Report 8-13

POSTED ON February 14th  - POSTED IN Fishing Reports

Missoula Fishing Report for the week of 8/11/2013

It was another solid week of fishing around Missoula.  The weather gave us a break with some cooler temps and cloudy skies.  It is still important to know where to be, and the colder water of the upper Bitterroot and Blackfoot has produced the best fishing.  Terrestrials like hoppers, ants, and beetles are the most effective dry flies at the moment and a hopper/dropper rig is keeping anglers busy during times when the fish aren’t actively looking up.  We found good numbers of fish everyday last week and some surprisingly big fish too for mid-summer.  Our days are getting shorter and the nights longer and colder.  Fall fishing is just on the horizon and hatches of Tricos and Hecubas (big fall drakes) should be consistently on the menu soon
Jim hooked up on the upper Bitterroot
Brian’s 21″ bow on a hopper
Son Conner not far behind with a 19″ stud
Sunrise on the Blackfoot
Another Montana memory
Joan’s big Blackfoot cutthroat on a little dry fly
Can’t wait to see what next week brings.
Tight Lines,
Tony Reinhardt
Montana Trout Outfitters

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