Mid April Bitterroot Dry Fly Report
In case you haven't heard, the spring dry fly fishing season is in full swing on the 'Root. The recent clouds have really ramped up the mayfly hatches and the surface feeding, and yesterday was honestly about as good as it gets. You can safely add March Browns and Blue Wings now to the daily menu of Skwalas and Nemoura stoneflies.
Yesterday we ran into a great hatch of March Browns that lasted for about two hours. The fish were up and eating on them hard. If you are lucky enough to be able to pick your fishing days, look for calm, cloudy days that have steady or rising barometric pressure. If you have warm overnight temps and water temps in the 40's at the start of the day, then you're in good shape to have potentially great fishing. Sunny days will still fish, you just may have to work a little harder and you may not see big numbers of mayflies.
No need to be out on the river at the crack of dawn either. The prime window for dry fly fishing and the hatches has been from about noon-4 or 5pm. If you don't want to mess around with droppers, sleep in and plan on a late start. Roll a single skwala until you see the March Browns showing and then put your favorite mayfly pattern off the back of the Skwaler. About three quarters of our fish yesterday still ate the skwala even though they were obviously feeding on March Browns. Running two flies however will up your chances as some fish really want the mayfly.
As far as bugs go, low profile, flush floating skwalas were the ticket. Leave the chubbies at home, these fish have seen a lot of flies this spring. For the March browns, sparkle duns, cripples, brindle chutes, and your favorite homebrew will work, just make that first cast count! Remember to lead fish, most of the time rising trout don't like being smacked on the head with your dry fly.
That's about it. Get out there and get it while you can! The whole river system is online and fishing well from the forks to Missoula, so pick your stretch and fish it with confidence. The flows are holding steady for now but this won't last forever. In a couple more weeks it will be all over until June (at least for the top-water stuff).