Weekend Warrior: Keep Smiling

The weather in Missoula this week has been wonderful, and the fishing this weekend should continue to be hot considering it is still February and feels like late March. Some precipitation is predicted, but the sun should make enough of an appearance to help boost your vitamin D while you’re on the water at least a little bit. Is this the weekend we see skwalas? While not impossible, its still early days and I don’t think there will be significant amounts of the bugs present to be focusing your fishing on them. By all means, a skwala nymph rig is worth prospecting with in the slow stuff. Neumoras, midges, and the rare BWO hatch are definitely making the top game a possibility much more often this weekend, but the slow streamer and nymph set up is winning hands down for most situations. Don’t expect winter solitude when you’re on the rivers this weekend, those days are past us. Lots of boats out there on the Bitterroot, and the lower Clark Fork is seeing the first exploration for the early skwala game.

This beauty was an early skwala dry fly taker last season. Get your skitter game ready.

If you are headed out to fish this weekend, the standard winter rules still apply: no need to hit the river at the crack of dawn. The later window of light is going to be your better option, so get a nice breakfast in and take your time. If you’re taking the boat out for the first time, double check all the things you might leave behind by accident because there’s nothing more annoying than finding out your oars are still in the garage stowed behind your skis when you get the boat ramp. Safety is key, and rusty oar arms and fast moving water don’t mix well so take caution and give obstacles their due and distance. The rocks get slick during the winter, and lots of the algae growth comes loose during runoff and we aren’t there yet, so keep safe wading as well. 

Bring the nymph stuff, the streamer stuff, and toss a few neumora and skwala patterns in there as well, you might just find a fish that’s as eager for the hatch as you are.


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