Even with the cold weather we have been having the world famous skwala hatch on the Bitterroot River is going strong. We are over in the Missoula Area chasing the skwala hatch and guiding. Today we decided to try the Bitterroot River on one of it upper stretches hoping the smaller water would warm quicker and also the large population of west slope cuts would play nice with the dry fly. Today started cold with frequent light snow showers and no fish looking up for the dry fly. We did manage to catch several fish before lunch on dropper nymphs hung behind the dry. We had the best luck with a small rubber leg in size 10-12 hung about 2.5 feet behind the dry.
Fishing in the morning was tough and we needed to make the most of every opportunity. The fish primarily came off slow inside bends and in the cushion behind rocks and logs.
Around one we were getting hungry so we stopped for lunch, the sky cleared and the sun came out. The temps felt like it rose 10 degrees. While we were eating lunch and admiring the change in weather we notices some skwala dry scurrying around the rocks near water level. We just knew it was just a matter of time. We also noticed a good hatch of grey drakes starting.
After lunch we switched to two dry fly's. The first being a skwala imitation and the second a drake imitation much like a large parachute adams. As soon as we were on the water we started turning fish on drys. As the afternoon went we caught fish on dry's in all the usual spots. Slow inside turns, behind rocks and logs, on fast outside bends and in the shelf drop offs.
We never caught any really big fish but several in the 16-18 range. We caught beautiful westslope cuts, rainbows and browns on every bend in the river. As the sun set behind the Bitterroot Range the fish decided to turn in for the nigh and shut off quickly.
With the forecast for improving weather for the next few days and three more days of guiding lined up before a break we are expecting more great fishing. If you can get to the Bitterroot in the next week or so you should do it as the fish are really starting to look up.