The Skwala hatch is a highlight of the spring fishing season here in Montana. Anglers from around the world travel to Montana to experience the this renowned hatch. The skwala hatch is eagerly anticipated because it’s one of the first opportunities of the year to fish big dry flies. Let’s explore the Skwala stonefly hatch in Montana in more detail, including what it is, when it happens, and how to fish it.
What is the Skwala Hatch?
The Skwala stone is a large, dark-colored insect that can be found in the rivers and streams of Montana. During the hatch, the Skwala stoneflies emerge from the river bottom and begin to make their way to the surface of the water. This is when they’re most vulnerable to hungry trout, and it’s when anglers can have the most success fishing large dry flies.
When Does the Skwala Hatch Happen?
The Skwala hatch typically begins in late March just prior to runoff and lasts through April. Water temps in the low 40’s is what can trigger the emergence of these stoneflies. The exact timing of the hatch can vary depending on the weather and water conditions. In some years, the hatch may start a little earlier or later than usual based on weather and flows.
The Skwala hatch is most know in the rivers and streams of western Montana, including the Bitterroot River, the Clark Fork River, and the Blackfoot River. These rivers are recognized for their excellent trout fishing attracting anglers from around the world.
How to Fish the Skwala fly in Montana
Fishing the Skwala hatch can be a thrilling experience for anglers. Here are some tips on how to fish the Skwala hatch in Montana:
- Use the Right Equipment : When fishing the Skwala hatch, it’s important to use the right equipment. You’ll need a fly rod that’s appropriate for the size of the river or stream you’re fishing. A 9-foot, 5-weight rod is a good choice for most rivers and streams in Montana.
- Use the Right Fly Patterns : During the hatch, the Skwala stonefly is the main food source for hungry trout. Using the right flies is critical to success when fishing the Skwala hatch. You’ll want to use dry flies that mimic the size and color of the naturals you may see. Some popular fly patterns include the Skwala Stone, the Chubby Chernobyl, Waterwalker , and the Pats Rubber legs. These flies can be purchased at most local fly shops.
- Look for the Right Water: During the hatch, trout will be looking for food in certain types of water. Look for riffles, runs, and other types of water where the current is broken. These areas will have more oxygen, which is important for these flies to hatch. Trout will also be looking for cover, so look for areas with structure such as rocks, logs, and undercut banks.
4. Watch the Stream Flow: Its early spring so anything is possible. One above average warm day or a day of rain can muddy up our freestones rivers.
5. Fish the Banks: These stoneflies are not strong swimmers, so they tend to hug the edges of the river rather than swimming in the middle. Focus your fishing efforts on the edges of the river, particularly near overhanging trees, logs, and rocks.
6. Focus on the Water Temperature: Skwala stoneflies are cold-water insects, so you will want to focus on areas of the river where the water temperature is in the low to mid-40s. Look for slower-moving water, as this is where the stoneflies are most likely to be found.
This stonefly hatch is an excellent opportunity for anglers to get out after a long winter and catch some trout. By using the right flies and focusing on the water temperature you can increase your chances of success. So grab your gear and head to Montana for some excellent spring fishing!