Missoula Fishing Report
Ask any veteran guide, and they will tell you the fishing has been good, but not necessarily easy. Every Spring seems to bring its own unique set of challenges. This year is no different. For the last few weeks we have had plenty of bugs hatching to get the fish looking up. Combine good dry fly fishing with above average flows and you get good but challenging fishing. Finding holding water has been the key to success. Being able to reach cast has been the difference between a few fish and a whole pile of them in the net. Getting a two foot drift in the tiny slot, 8 inches from the bank, behind that one log, off the clump of grass, and under the overhanging bush is not easy – but gives you your best chance at a willing trout.
Patience, Young Grasshopper.
Luckily for us there are some game changers happening out there right now and the fishing is shifting once again:
A week ago we saw our first Baetis hatches of the Spring. Three days ago we saw our first March Brown’s. Take a glance at the right side of your screen (the bottom if you’re reading this from mobile) and notice the flows at a nice and steady drop. Put these three factors together and this is what you get:
-More water to fish: Our area rivers are still higher than average for this time of year. The trout aren’t going to be in the super fast stuff right now. Dropping flows gives us more buckets, more riffles, and more fishy spots in between.
-Mayflies spread the fish out: It is no longer primarily a Skwala game. The Bitterroot is a bug factory and when she adds March Browns and Blue Wings to the already present Skwalas good things happen. The fish spread out to feed, opening up choppy spots and slicks with more hungry and willing trout.
Your day should be planned around the afternoon window of hatching bugs. Fishing has been tough in the morning mainly because of water temps — it takes longer for a river full of water to warm up. If you’re going into lunch with even a few in the net, you’re doing good. Even after over ten years of guiding in the Spring, I still have to calm myself down in the morning and rely on my faith in the afternoon trout Gods. Luckily, they have been taking care of us lately. Once the bugs pop, the fishing has been downright silly out there.