After four plus months of cold snowy winter it’s that time of year when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Warmer days ahead promise to end the dreaded gaze at the gumball in stagnant water in hopes of a twitch.  Spring is around the corner and with it will come dry fly fishing. It’s good to keep in mind that spring can see volatile conditions, especially with heavy snow-pack like we have this year. But if you’re mobile and willing to employ all tactics you will likely find good fishing in the spring regardless of what mother nature throws at you.

Bitterroot River Spring Skwala Fishing

The Bitterroot offers the most consistent skwala fishing of our rivers and is generally the number one choice for visiting anglers looking to fish the hatch. The bugs can start here as early as the first week of March and last through May. The Root is also the most crowded and often times upwards of 20 trailers will be seen jammed in at any given ramp during peak season. The Root has that classic western river charm, dense insect population, and early season big dry fly fishing that attract anglers from across the country for those explosive spring dry fly takes on large foam flies. March browns, grey drakes, and BWOs will also mix in offering a variety of insects and opportunities at rising fish.

Clark Fork River Spring Skwala Fishing

The Clark Fork tends to fly a bit under the radar during the skwala event. Mostly because it’s a role of the dice early season for the big bugs. The scenery isn’t quite as pleasing either and the river itself doesn’t have that typical western freestone feel like the Root. It’s flat and wide and some say sort of boring looking water. But when the flying skwalas are pouring off the banks like locust and trout are jumping in the boat it’s far from boring. These events just don’t happen all that often and more times than not you end up scratching your head with only a few skwala eats. But after things warm up in early April you can usually count on at least a couple hours of afternoon dry fly fishing. Unlike the Root you won’t see many other boats which is sometimes worth trip just for the solitude. Grey drakes, March browns, and BWOs are usually a better bet for finding rising fish in the spring but the risers will often destroy a foam skwala pattern.

Missouri River Spring Skwala Fishing

Missouri river skwala fishing is not very consistent. The appeal here is BIG browns can be caught on large foam flies for those who are patient enough to stick with it. You won’t have days with dozens of fish swiping at your foam bug and your net will likely get dry between fish, but the fish are usually larger than their western cousins so its a fair trade. The skwala hatch on the Mo is primarily on the lower half of the river where the Dearborn and a few other small tribs kick in some bugs. The event is sparse and also happens later than western Montana. Most of the time you won’t ever see a skwala unless you really look. Late April seems to be the ideal time frame. In recent years social media and the blogosphere have exposed the once secret skwala hatch of the Missouri river. Now a fair amount of folks are on the river trying their luck for a big brown with a skwala pattern. This adds to the challenge of finding willing fish. It’s fun and rewarding but not for everyone.

Flathead River Spring Skwala Fishing

The Flathead River is not much of a skwala fishery but there are a few skwalas present once things warm up in April. There are also a few March brown and BWOs. The primary hatches are winter stones of capnia and leuctridae which are small dark bodied stone flies. When conditions line up, some fast dry fly action can be had on warmer days but the overall spring dry fly fishing in inconsistent. Skwala patterns will often work well during these events but spring fishing on the Flathead is primarily nymphing. This is the time of year our native migratory westlope cutthroat are cruising the corridor offereing a chance at a large pure native cutthroat exceeding 20″.

Shop Hours

We are not open quite yet. Still wittling away at inventory and taxes. We are in and out of shop so give a call and we can open the doors for you if we’re not already there. Once the ramps clear and the snow melts a little we’ll start hanging around the shop a bit more.


Jason Lanier
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