Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fishing Reports or Commercials?

So, Dixon and I have been chatting a lot lately about the skwala fishing report phenomenon. You can read Jay's newest report here. Obviously, there are a bunch of different reasons to write fishing reports. Some fly shops just want you to buy flies. Outfitters and guides (like me) want you to buy trips. Some people don't want more people on 'their' stretches, so they give bad reports. Some people really want you to think they are God's gift to fly fishing, too. There are also plenty of real honest folks in all those professions, but who can you trust?

I show off my nice fish as much as anybody, but remember, a blind pig could always find that acorn by chance, including me. And in my experience, the best fishermen are the quiet ones. (Obviously, we're still not that good, 'cause we never shut up!) Anyway, I think you get the idea. Here is my current, no-nonsense, Bitterroot River skwala report for March 28, 2012.

It depends (said like a lawyer). Yes, there have been a few great days for some people. Those days have primarily been cloudy on the middle river above Stevi, with more success in the sun above Hamilton. However, consistency has been lacking. Between Stevi and Missoula, I have only seen one adult, and two shucks. Above Bell, I've seen lots of adults, starting two weeks ago. If there are mayflies or nemouras on the water, and you see a group of rising fish, you can probably get them to eat the skwala, sometimes even if there aren't any skwalas on the water. This doesn't mean the skwalas are "all over the river."

I haven't heard any reports of good dry fly fishing below Stevi. If you have, I'd suggest taking it with a grain of salt. If it was you, please teach me your magic. My email and phone are below. Near town, the action has been picking up due to mayfly activity, but the middle-lower end is still a nymphing game for the most part. I have seen fewer than 10 rises on two visits between Stevi and Florence. Yesterday was rough, but it was gorgeous and we only saw one other boat.

Not coincidentally, the places where the fishing is good are also the most crowded. I really don't think it matters if you are the third boat down a section. It might matter if you are the 8th boat in 30 minutes. Trout only need 10-20 min without a disturbance before they start to feed again, and some trout return even faster. If you make an effort to spread out and the fishing is decent, you should be fine, no matter where you choose to go. One fish might like bullet heads, another might like a foamy and you could be right behind someone else and catch a fish.

Finally, remember that water temperature is probably your most important factor, and that it can change between stretches of river, and between side channels and the main river. In warmer areas, you'll probably be seeing more mayflies and more bugs in general, and mayflies will get more and more important in the coming days and weeks. Good luck out there.

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