Want Fish With Shoulders? Fish The Shoulder Seasons

By on Jan 11th, 2018   //   2 minutes to read

Spring Fishing in Missoula

Any bird/elk/bow hunter will understand the lack of reports over the past couple of months, but the rest of our readers are probably wondering where we’ve been, and more importantly, when it’s fair to start counting the days to spring fly fishing. The answer is NOW.  But first, a quick update on our snow situation…

Current Snowpack in the Missoula Area

Winter is upon us in Missoula, and the high country basins are filling up with snow. Our nearby drainages currently possess a snow-pack over 100%, and the coming week looks fairly wet to boot. Of course, we’ll use every melted snowflake we can get this summer, so let’s hope it keeps coming.

Fishing Snowpack Missoula

How to Interpret SnowPack

For the record, snowpack is a strange beast — some years we have relatively little and a wet spring sets us up for a very solid year of flows; and others, like last year, find us well above average in mid-April, and a hot dry May wipes us fairly clean. The point: while we may talk about it all winter, we rarely have a clear picture until the end of Spring.  But no doubt, it’s best to start with a pile of snow.

As it does every year, monitoring the Snotel sites gets us chomping at the bit for spring fishing. Will we be throwing large dry flies for rising trout in two months? You can bet your custom foam fly we will!

March through May our “Banana Belt” valley generally serves up temps in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and regardless of temps, we bring a hot lunch and propane boat heater to take the edge off of things.  Here’s a brief rundown of what to expect this Spring.

Fishing Missoula in March

Fishing Missoula Spring

Mid-March starts one of our two “shoulder seasons” — a portion of the year that isn’t always well-trafficked by visitors, but consistently produces some of the best fish of the year.  If you have an itch to catch big fish on large dry flies (#8-10 Skwalas) before the leaves turn green, spring is the time of year to come to Missoula and the action starts in March.

Fishing Missoula in April

As April arrives, more aquatic offerings do too — March Browns, Gray Drakes, Baetis, and larger Stones round out the menu. We see a lot of big fish come to the net in April on our area rivers, and also head east of the Divide often to find them on the Missouri. It’s fun showing those big river browns some Westside junk they can’t resist (just ask Charlie!).

Fishing Missoula in May

As frequent bumps in water arrive in May, we relish keeping our finger on the pulse of our changing options. Quite simply, this is the window of the season that provides the fewest options but, without question, some of the the best.  Rising water temps + prolific hatches + a little color in the water = a recipe for CREATURES! (Just ask the Texas boys!)

Dry Fly Fishing Missoula Spring

With that teaser, Happy New Year, Friends. We’d love to talk season options with you and hope to hear from you soon!!

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