I’ve been writing enough river reports and updates lately to fill a novel, so I’ve decided to write one biggie to all of you to let you know what’s happening here on the Bitterroot river.
We are on the cusp of the famed Skwala stonefly hatch, which traditionally starts mid March, but has been slow to get itself going this season. If you’ve kept up with our winter’s snowpack you will see we are way above average (160% in the Bitterroots), which has the river at double historical flows. Water flows and temperatures greatly dictate aquatic insect hatches, and the delayed start to the hatch is attributable to cold temps both in the river and the air: Skwalas wait for the magic 42 degrees water temp to start popping.
Now, we’ve been catching plenty of fish, mind you, but mostly under the surface on streamers or nymphs. The dry fly windows have been brief, but are beginning to lengthen as we move towards nicer weather. Checking the river on a blustery afternoon float today, I found consistent dry fly activity in specific regions: gradually tapering inside corners and riffles were holding lots of fish from shin deep to waist deep water, indicating the fish are in position for aggressive feeding.
Starting next week (April 7), our weather begins to cheer up considerably, making for excellent hatching conditions. Along with the Skwala stones, March Brown mayflies will join the party any day now, especially on warm cloudy or rainy afternoons, and continue throughout April until runoff. When both species are in full hatch, along with the token Nemoura and Capnia stones buzzing around everywhere, this river absolutely lights up!
All this early activity comes with a time limit: runoff. When that massive snowpack comes roaring down the mountains sometime in the near future, usually early May, the slate is wiped clean.
I hope this stirs the fishing bug within all of you. My guides and I would love the opportunity to show you the Bitterroot’s early season, before the height of the summer fishing begins. We are offering discounted float trips during this time, usually meeting at the crack of ten or eleven and fishing till the day is wrapped up, focusing on the midday hatches.
Thanks to all of you of my guides and I have fished with over the years and many more to come. Contact us anytime to plan a float trip, get the latest scoop on the rivers, or just talk fishin’. See you on the river.