Time to shake the frost off of your waders and start thinking about Spring fishing. The warmer days have me excited to get out there. Many anglers overlook early Spring as a time of hatches, though all year round we have to pay attention to the active bugs. Too many bugs get overlooked. In my opinion, the Skwala is one of those bugs. Many rivers across the west and Pacific Northwest get phenomenal Skwala hatches through March and April, depending on where you’re at. Not as popular as say the Bitterroot or the Yakima, but Madison river Skwalas fair well once that water temperature peaks up to that 41-43 degree window. Here on the Madison, they are definitely overlooked. Skwalas have not made a name for themselves here but in the Spring-time, albeit March or April, we can expect to see them mixed in with their golden cousins under riffle rock and crawling out onto the snow to hatch. A challenge for most anglers is tying on a dry fly when there is still snow on the ground. It’s just a concept some fail to understand. Some bugs hatch in colder temperatures, and yes, the fish will eat them on top! That being said, big bug dries along snow covered banks can be fun, and it is possible to get Mr. Brown to rise to a chubby or stimi on a cold day. The big question is how do you know where Skwalas are hatching, and when? Here are 5 easy tips to catching fish on Skwala patterns on the Madison River this spring.
1. Rubber Legs, Rubber Legs, Rubber Legs – The best way to fool a Spring trout is to feed it what it wants. Birthday cake (stoneflies). No more Reese’s Pieces (midges). Remember that color can be important. However, what is more important in the early Spring is fishing where the fish are. Stonefly nymphs can vary in color amongst species, but for Skwalas, a grey or brown bug with a yellow belly fits the bill. Trust me, when it gets good, its good and there’s no shame in a double rubber rig.
2. Watch the Weather and Temperature – Water temperatures are crucial for timing most stonefly hatches. Skwalas are not an exception. The magic window of consistent 41-43 degree water is one of the best indicators for Skwala Valhalla.
3. Earlier Rather Than Later – As soon as that water temp hits 42 degrees, it should be rolling. If you wait until the water temperatures climb on and on, more bugs start to take over, including larger mayflies like March Browns and caddis join into a trout’s diet. These bugs generally appear in stronger numbers, overshadowing what was THE meal item. Though Skwalas are never the only bug hatching in the Spring, but there definitely seems to be a window in which trout key in on them.
4. Dry Dropper – My favorite Skwala dry patterns
are the PMX Olive #10 or Stimulator Olive or Peacock #10. These are good when
you are casting just dries or have lighter droppers on them. These are what I’d
call my finesse patterns. As for dries for dropper rigs, I’ll use lots of
different Chubbies, particularly custom ones in Gray, Olive, and Peacock. My
all time favorite though, Dornan’s Water Walker #8-10 Olive will keep a Rubber
Legs nymph suspended at 2 feet no problem. As for the droppers – stick to the
Rubber Legs in a #8-10. Brown and Coffee/Black are my go-to choices.
5. Pay Attention to Details – Look for stonefly shucks on rocks, snow, and any other structures. Shucks will give you an idea of hatch timing and when and where Skwalas may be active during the day. If you’re finding the shucks, theirs possibly bugs in the air or on the water. If you don’t find many shucks, check rocks near the bank, they might not have made it out yet. These simple indicators will give you a slight idea of timing and understanding where the majority of the bugs will be.
It’s time to get out there and enjoy early Spring fishing! Don’t forget about our 2020 Orvis Helios 3 Giveaway! We encourage you to take the time and review us on Google Reviews and Orvis Reviews. Simply follow the links and leave an honest review. All 5-Star reviews will be entered from both Google and Orvis to be randomly chosen after December 1st. The winner will then get to choose their choice of Helios 3 Fly Rod! Our reviews matter to us and it is how we continuously offer up the best service in the shop and on the water. Thank you all for your support!