Skwalas, hypothermia and the elusive pink bobber- Missoula Montana fly fishing report 2/14/23

2/14/2023-Missoula, Montana Fly Fishing Report

April is a great time for fly fishing in the Missoula, Montana area, particularly on the Bitterroot River, Clark Fork River, and Missouri River.


The Bitterroot River is known for its early season fishing in April, as the river is typically in great shape and the Skwala stonefly hatch can begin in late March. The Skwala hatch is an exciting time for fly fishers, as it brings hungry trout to the surface, providing great dry fly action. In addition to Skwala stoneflies, Blue Winged Olives, midges and nemoura stoneflies can also be found in the river during April. This is one of our favorite times to float the Bitterroot not only for the beauty of the spring, but for the opportunities that are available to the dry fly angler.

The Clark Fork River can also be a great option for fly fishing in April, as it is the largest river in Montana and has a wide range of hatches. April brings a variety of hatches to the Clark Fork, including Skwala stoneflies, March Browns, and Blue Winged Olives. The river is known for its large trout, making it a popular destination for experienced anglers. Typically we tend to see fewer crowded days here, with some exceptional results.

In addition to the Bitterroot and Clark Fork rivers, the Missouri River can also be a great destination for fly fishing in April. This river is known for its large population of rainbow and brown trout, and its diverse hatches make it a popular destination for fly fishers throughout the year. The tailgater effect makes the Mo’ a good bet for dries and for nymphing, which we will begrudgingly do when necessary. As always, a pink $4 bobber is our top choice for success.

Overall, April can be an excellent time for fly fishing in the Missoula, Montana area, particularly on the Bitterroot River and Clark Fork River. Anglers can expect a variety of hatches, a variety of conditions and techniques and good success.

The spring fly fishing season is right around the corner and I can say that we are looking forward to getting on the water soon!

Current conditions:

Clark Fork River- it’s been so icy near Missoula, with most of the accesses/ramps locked up behind walls of ice. I suspect that it is a bit better the further downriver you go. Try the usual stuff: worms, zebras, and some smaller stonefly nymphs.

Bitterroot River- It is only a matter of time until someone prematurely sees a “Skwala”. As for now, look to the slow water and fish the winter water. It’d be great if these poor fish just had a nice long break from being bombarded with pink bobbers, but there seems to a few cats who just insist on suffering through a day to catch a trout.

Missouri River- You can head to the damn dam and row around with some pink or gray fuzz tied to your line. The fish are there, but are they hungry? Probably. Find the slow winter water and you’ll catch a fish. Bring some good Canadian whiskey and a diminished I.Q. You’re gonna need both.