My phone is alive with winter weather advisories, and the mountains around Missoula are darn near solid white. Most yards in Missoula still have patches of snow, and a day with a high temperature near 50-degrees has people dancing in the streets. It's been a heck of a long winter here, but signs of spring are beginning to show. Fish are beginning to come out of their winter stupor as midges, mayflies, and the oh-so-tasty skwala stoneflies begin to emerge. For those willing to bundle up and brave the rain-snow-cloud-sun carousel, now's the time.
Outfitters here are scouring their contacts lists hoping to drum up clients to keep their guides working for the next ten days: when out-of-town clients who book well in advance start coming to town. This next week or two is generally filled with local or spur-of-the-moment clients looking to get on the river as spring arrives. The problem is, spring hasn't really arrived, and it seems those folks aren't interested in braving the mixed weather and 40-degree temperatures. Their reluctance could be your opportunity. If you're in a position to drop everything for a quick trip to Montana, you shouldn't have much trouble finding good guides ready to put you on nice cutthroats, rainbows, and those big browns that are looking to fill their empty bellies.
My son, Dave, is in that holding mode, so he filled some time by taking me out for two days as he scouted sections of the Bitterroot and tested the waters. I had no trouble catching a dozen or more fish each day, in spite of my numb fingers. Most took mayfly nymphs or worms, but we enticed several nice fish to rise to a skwala dry. Temperatures may be higher next week, so the dry fly action should only get better. Here are a few pics to whet your appetite.
[Don't I look young and handsome?]