On to the Next Hatch

We trout anglers are a fickle bunch. For months all we cared about were skwala, skwala, skwala. Are they on the Bitterroot? Was there a bigger hatch last year? Lower Clark blown out… But did you see ’em? Then without warning, we drop that skwala like a cheerleader drops a bad prom date. See you later, stupid.

Why? There was nothing wrong with the skwala. He was a nice guy! Good grades, average looks… But then again could he compete with the chisel-jawed quarterback? No, no he couldn’t. And in the stonefly world, the salmonfly is the broad-shouldered QB with the million dollar smile. March browns, drakes, caddis… Trout are eating them all, but just like that heartbreaking cheerleader we just don’t care when there’s a big bug on the horizon.

This year that horizon is really close. Salmonflies have been spotted in decent numbers from the lower sections of Rock Creek to the canyons of the Blackfoot. Are us guides concerned that the bugs have arrived early? Nope. Are we tying up flies the size of your smartphone? Yep.

Don’t get too crazy, trout bums. A lonely salmonfly looks for love on lower Rock Creek.

What does all that mean to you? Well, if you’re one of those local anglers that like to get ahead of the hatch and find them subsurface, you better get in there. My gut says the hatch will be a big one, but also longer than previous years. But if you can’t get out for a few weeks, don’t worry. Getting all worked up like a teenage girl at a One Direction concert isn’t necessary – these bugs might just stick around for a while. The skwala hatch has not ended completely, with the fluttering fellas showing up right through town on the Clark Fork most evenings, though their numbers are tapering off. One of the longest and largest hatches in recent memory. With the skwala hatch as a gauge, in all likelihood the salmonflies might just follow suit. We could be in for a long stretch of tossing the cheetos. If you buy your flies, get into your favorite shop and stock up now before the rush. If you tie, get the orange thread out. But take your time and Western Montana is a good place to be this year. Will you be out there?

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