It’s February, and that means the stoneflies are on the move. I’ve been out a few days over the past 10 days, and fish have been eating Pat’s Stones. When there are only a few food sources available, and the majority of the trout take the same fly. It tells you a few things. But there are questions you’ve gotta ask yourself.
When hooking fish in the early season as we wait for the skwallas, the fish and the river will tell us when things are going to start. The first question I ask myself is, what depth are the fish taking the fly? Then I ask how far out from the bank are we finding most of the fish? The answer to those two questions gives anglers their baseline for when spring comes in terms of the trout season.
Currently, I am finding fish at 4 to 6 feet deep. Closer to the middle of the river as opposed to the bank. Fish taking Pat’s stones at that depth and distance tells me skwallas are starting to migrate towards the bank from their feeding areas and colonies under the large boulders and in the deeper water along the substrate. Fish are starting to move and follow this food source. With only midges, sculpins, cased caddis, and stoneflies. Fish are going for the big, easy to eat, and more abundant food source. Which is the stonefly nymph right now. And will be for the next several weeks.
This means that skwallas will be hatching soon. Over the next 2 weeks, the majority of the skwalla nymphs will work slowly towards the bank. Feeding on anything they can as they prepare for adulthood and hatch along the banks and in the grasses along the rivers edge. They like 50 degree days. Skwallas don’t fly very much and mostly crawl and skitter along the bank and in the soft water and edges of the river. Trout lie in wait along the bank ready to chase down and hoover these big bugs. Trout metabolism is on the rise as all these trooty things begin aligning. The hatch, the water temps, air temps, and fish all coming together to signify spring and get anglers into their waders and chasing trout.
Looking at the forecast. The flow predictions, snow pack levels, current water temps, and what I’ve seen so far riverside. Skwallas are about 3 maybe 4 weeks out. End of February we will see our first skwallas hatching on the Yakima. Last year’s hatch was bonkers. Just fing bonkers.
Trout wanna eat skwallas. They are delicious, don’t taste like caddis, and as a trouts body wakes up with the water temp, they gotta put something bigger and more abundant in the tank. Big spring flows are coming, the spawn, and as trout wake up, so do predators, so eating stoneflies is a must. And fuck do trout eat skwallas. Hammer them, both as a nymph and a dry. They crush that shit hard. Like real hoooaaard!
Over the next 3 weeks anglers who like to euro style nymph or slay big fish nymphing..it is the time. Those big swing eats on the trout spey….yep, it’s here. And by the end of February, trout will be on the bank slurping those big skwalla morsels off the surface.
I invite those of you who want to get better at trout spey and euro nymphing to come out. Or those of you who are skilled and want some opportunity to get into some fish with a guide, ya…the next 3 weeks are where it’s at. And those of you waiting for that bitchin’ dry fly game…by the end of February anglers. Skwalla Holla!
February has openings. March is filling up. Get after it anglers. Skwalla special is running through March. See ya riverside.