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January 9, 2014


  Now that fall is gone and winter and the Holidays are here it is time to start thinking about the great fishing options for 20.  Many of you probably have a warm saltwater trip planned or maybe an adventure to Patagonia for Southern Hemisphere trout but there are also some great options in Montana that are just around the corner.

The Skwala Stonefly hatch on the Bitterroot, Clark Fork, and Blackfoot rivers of Western Montana is definitely some of the finest stonefly dry fly-fishing of the whole year! Skwala nymphs begin to move and crawl out from under rocks in late February and depending on weather and water temps begin to offer good dry fly opportunities in the Afternoon by mid March. This isn’t your typical cool weather fishing, when the trout get on the dry’s it can be really exciting with lots of eats, they are very aggressive and they really crush the bug.  Skwala’s are typically a size 10 or 12 dark colored stone fly, olive or black but with some lighter segments to their under bodies.  What is so unique about this hatch is the time of year, this hatch happens months earlier than any other aquatic hatch and is prolific and since the fish are just coming out of winter they are ready to feed heavily.  March is generally solely Skwala stone fishing but as you move into April you begin to see other types of small stones as well as March Brown and Grey Drake Mayflies.


The season for fishing this hatch runs from about March 15th to April 20th with the three best weeks being the last week in March through April 15th.  This is because this hatch occurs pre mountain runoff so the farther you get into April the higher the chance that the snow will begin to melt and the rivers will start to rise. The weather can be cool in the 40-55 day time temp range but the fish are like clockwork once they get on the bugs they get on them every day whether the days is warm or not.

A day on the water goes something like this. Meet at your hotel at around 8 or 8:30 am depending on the weather (you guide will pick you up at your hotel). Head out to the river, dry, dry/dropper, or streamer fish until noon and have lunch. Shortly after lunch the fish will be looking up well and we fish single or double dry’s all afternoon until the hatch quits at 5:30 or 6 pm. The fish of western Montana are a nice mixture of Rainbows, Westslope Cutthroats, Cutbows, and brown trout and the average size most days is between 16 and 19 inches with the occasional trout going over 20 in. I always recommend booking at least 3 guide days so that you get to see a wide selection of the different types of water and fish we have to offer in Western Montana.

Prime dates still available with Karl Jones. Other dates are available to fish with the guide staff

    • March 30th – April 3rd
    • April 10th– April 15th

Karl Jones
Sheerwater Guide Service
Missoula, Montana

   Sheerwater Guide Service still has some prime dates open for the spring so if you want to get in on some of the best dry fly fishing of the year please contact Yellow Dog and set up you trip with Karl Jones and Sheerwater Guide Service. Yellow Dog’s John Hudgens and Shaun Lawson can arrange day or multi-day trips to the Missoula Region for fishing with Sheerwater outfitter Karl Jones. Karl’s the very best guide to fish the spring hatches near and around Missoula’s waters. The absolute best there is.


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