Missoula Spring Fishing Report


The new Montana fishing season started in March and it was a great month to be on the water.   The Skwala stonefly hatch begins in March and fly anglers go bonkers for the first real dry fly fishing of the season.  The Bitterroot river has the most famous Skwala hatch in the area and March produced plenty of solid dry fly days this year.

Now that we are into April there are a lot more fishing options in the Missoula area.  Rock Creek offers one of the best March Brown hatches, and those big mayflies make for great wade fishing through the whole length of the creek.  The Clark Fork starts to come to life in April too.  The upper Clark Fork, above Missoula, has good hatches of Skwalas, March Browns, and Blue-wing Olives.  The faster flows of the upper river usually offer the chance to throw big Skwalas or mayfly patterns that will get crushed by aggressive rainbows and browns.  The lower Clark Fork can be a little more technical in regards to the mayfly hatches, but it also boasts one of the most prolific Skwala hatches in the area toward the end of the month.   The Blackfoot is always a crapshoot in the spring, but if you like fishing streamers or nymphs there is a chance at finding the biggest fish of the season during any April day on the Blackfoot.

Spring colors in Montana. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

Spring colors in Montana. Photo by TonyReinhardt.

Some local lakes become great options this time of year too.  As the ice comes off there will be some massive rainbows cruising the shallows which makes for some exciting sight fishing.  Browns and Harpers lakes up the Blackfoot valley are two of the best, but there are others if you do some exploring.

Skwala eating brown trout. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

Skwala eating brown trout. Photo by TonyReinhardt.

The most important thing to know about April is that it is a month of change.  Fishing conditions are constantly evolving due to our weather patterns.  If it gets too warm our local rivers will start to rise due to snowmelt and can put the fishing off for a few days.  The same goes for our lakes.  A couple of warm days can cause the ice to break up and if you hit one of those lakes a day or two after ice off the fishing will be far better than if you are there a week or two after ice off.  Savvy anglers check on streamflows daily and have local contacts regarding lake conditions.

Wading the Bitterroot river. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

Wading the Bitterroot river. Photo by TonyReinhardt.

If you take advantage of the right conditions April can produce some of the best fishing of the entire season.  Spring has finally arrived in Missoula and it’s time to get outside and wet a line!

Local lakes can produce giants this time of year. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

Local lakes can produce giants this time of year. Photo by TonyReinhardt.

Tight Lines,

Tony Reinhardt, Montana Trout Outfitters

Like this blog? Chances are you’ll like some of these by MakeItMissoula blogger, Tony Reinhardt: Salmonfly Mania in Missoula, March Madness: Fly Fising in Missoula, Montana (VIDEO), Missoula River Etiquette, Summer Dry Fly Season in Missoula.


Tony Reinhardt BioTony Reinhardt is the owner, outfitter for Montana Trout Outfitters in Missoula.  He has been a guide on the rivers of western Montana for 16 years and absolutely loves his job.  When he’s not working you’ll find him fishing with his two children or in the woodshunting.