Skwala Stones Emerging on Montana's Bitterroot

It was too nice not to get out of the house this weekend and throw a line on Montana’s Bitterroot River. My decision was made a little easier when I talked to John and Jed Fitzpatrick and was told that they’d take care of the boat and shuttle—all I had to do was show up and fish. That I can do boys, even after staying out way, way too late on Saturday night.

Not the first time I’ve shaken cobwebs to fish. But this was the first “skwala” float of the season. Didn’t know quite what to expect but it was pretty exciting to see honeybees flying by and even a few black houseflies. Then the capnia started, followed by a major midge emergence and, finally, a few skwalas. The official start of spring is a couple weeks away, but seeing those bugs means spring is here in my mind.

I think many people view the skwala emergence as the real start to the annual fishing season, the first big bugs of the year that get trout looking to the surface. And after throwing midges to trout all winter, tying on a size-8 stonefly is welcome relief. Relief, that's what we found on Sunday when we launched the raft near Hamiltion.

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