Our spring mayflies have finally started showing themselves on the Bitterroot. After almost a month of focusing on the Skwala stonefly, the March Browns are coming on with a vengeance on certain days and sections of the river. These bugs can be picky to their preferred weather, leaning towards humid broken skied days. Unlike Baetis which thrive with torturous weather, March Browns like a little sunshine mixed with some clouds; too much rain will cancel the deal as it did on our Friday float trip.
Fortunately, we took advantage of the hatch all day Thursday, and then Friday from its inception at around two o’clock, and saw epic fishing until a heavy cold rainstorm wiped the bugs out around 3:30. While waiting for the mayflies, we fished Skwala patterns to likely holds and found many good fish looking for our bugs. As I glanced towards a likely chop seam, I saw multiple good trout fully expose their red banded sides as they rose steadily, indicating they were onto a mayfly hatch. Right away we dumped the Skwala, tipped down to 4X, and started throwing small brown quill patterns to this pod of at least a dozen fish. They ate them, well!
So be on the lookout for mayflies for the rest of this month, usually starting around 2:00. No need to get on the river before noon, unless you like your bobbers and droppers…. no thanks. There are some situations where one could run a nymph through a run, but the patient fisherman will find enough action on top in the afternoon to put a smile on anyone’s face. So take advantage of the dry fly while you still can, before runoff restarts the clock on our way to summer.