Friday, May 6, 2011

Skwala Fever on the Gallatin

A skwala dry separated the men from the boys on the Gallatin R.
It's a mild fever, but a fever none the less. My infatuation with the Gallatin River skwala hatch was further validated yesterday. I wandered out to the river behind the house at about 11am, intending to fish through an extended lunch break - after all with runoff overdue this could have been my last opportunity. I was lazy and didn't feel like re-rigging so I went with the black circus peanut that was already affixed to my line (and which had been killer on the Gallatin two days prior). I worked the heavily structured banks hard, but got no tugs and just one half-hearted chase. I then switched over to a double nymph rig, promptly catching a whitefish on a new prototype worm I've been working on (highly technical fly tying), so that was exciting. It was at about this point that I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Craning my neck for a better look, I found that I'd picked up a hitchhiker, an adult skwala stonefly (1 of 3 that I saw over the next hour)! This event, combined with the growing numbers of March browns hatching, convinced me to switch over to a dry fly rig.

I lengthened my leader, tied on a Gould's half down skwala, tied on another length of tippet and finally knotted on a March brown sparkle dun, size 14. That's four knots! And through all of this I was fighting the distraction brought on by the fact that the trout had finally realized that there were large mayflies all over the surface; breaking my concentration with every splashy rise.

The fishing was amazing for about two hours, until the March brown emergence petered out. I took a dozen or more fish on the sparkle dun, and two on the skwala. You may wonder how two fish validated my infatuation with the skwala hatch? It's simple, size. The fish that I found up and rising to March browns were of modest proportions, generally 10- to 14-inches. The fish that took the stonefly stretched to 17-18 inches, large fish by Gallatin River standards. Validation.


  1. Validation indeed, nicely done. Strange year with this cool spring weather.

  2. It amazes me the confidence you have in that bug, on that stream! Its awesome!
    Nice freakin Brown Will!