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.
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.