Despite the forecast calling for very windy conditions, I headed out to the Upper Madison yesterday morning. I left town a little later than I wanted to and expected there to be a lot of people at the access. To my surprise, I was the only car in the parking lot. The fact that it was blowing 15 - 20 mph and looked like rain probably helped with the crowds.
The water is pretty low and clear up there right now, and it's been pretty warm up there. Day time water temps have been consistenly getting up above 42 degrees which is the magic number for Baetis to start showing up. I had hopes of seeing a few of them under the cloudy skies, but it was so windy I wasn't expecting much dry fly action.
I got to my spot and started nymphing, catching a few nice fish. Trying to throw a double nymph rig and mend it is always a challenge in the wind, but my Winston B3X was up to the task. The right rod and the right line can make a huge difference in your day on the water.
Even with the stiff breeze, I saw a couple splashy rises in the run I was fishing. Which was surprising, becuase any bug on the water would have blown away really quickly. After a couple hours of fishing I was walking back up the bank toward my pack and noticed movement near my feet. It was a bug, and a big one too. A closer look revealed this guy:
The first Skwala of the year that I've seen this year.
Reports from the Bitterroot and the west side of the state have said it's game on over there for Skwalas. As the first big stonefly hatch of the year and the first chance we get to throw big dries to fish, it's always a fun hatch to fish. The west side of the state is the best known for them, but there are plenty around here. Fishing is better for them on cloudy days and with a little warmer water temps. Right now is still early, but expect to see a few more of them around especially as the water warms.
This hatch often gets overlooked in this part of the state... Don't make that mistake! Come on down to the shop to get some flies for them. We've got what you need.