We really started fishing the hatch in 2012. New to fishing and eager to get out after a long winter, this hatch was a welcomed respite from worm chucking and turd swinging. In 2013 we fished the hatch with more dedication, hoping to unlock the secrets of the hatch so that days could be spent catching fish on a dry and not just staring at foam float downriver for eight hours. While some may claim this hatch is so easy to hit we’ve found it to be quite the opposite. With a 2+month weather and water temp window these bugs can pop with little to no reason one day and be gone the next only to reappear three weeks later in the same spot. An angler dedicated to seeing the hatch in all its glory often has to be borderline obsessed with time on the river the biggest factor in catching glimpses of the best days. That year we filmed a few days but had relatively nothing to show for the effort. 2013 came around and we again set out to fish the hatch and were met with slightly better success.
Again we filmed a bit but with no mission and no goal it was only worth added time spent behind the camera gaining valuable experience filming fishing. 2014 came and once again we walked banks searching for rising trout and skwalas crawling through the rocks. A few epic days without the camera had us feeling more confident.
Around this time I had become better friends with Josh Rokosch, a local of the valley and one knowledgeable skwala fisherman. Growing up fishing the hatch meant he was a wealth of knowledge and in 2013 he had expressed his desire to make a skwala film called Skwalhalla. The title essentially means Skwala Valhalla and we were right at the center of the best skwala fishing to be found. Things didn’t work out to begin filming then or in 2014, but more groundwork was laid and a project was starting to line up.
As 2015 rolled around we agreed to begin filming Skwalhalla. The film was meant to document the glory of the hatch and the epic dry fly eats associated with it. No long, boring storyline, just good friends, good times and big eats. We filmed 4 days that spring and got a few shots but far from what we needed to make a film. With no funding of any kind this was going to be a personal project and that meant no real deadline. With the ball slowly rolling we ramped up production in 2016 and filmed a total of 11 days searching for more eats and bigger fish. That may seem like a lot of days but often film days never seem to be amazing fishing days. Sure there are a few every once in a while but often if you get 5-10 really good shots in a day you’re crushing it. Running a camera for 8 hours on a river can be tough and shots get missed, fish get missed, the exposure or focus was off, the audio was cracking, or something didn’t line up that made the shot just ok. Again this is entirely self funded so if the fishing sucks and we’re sick of filming then the camera goes bye bye and usually someone catches a fish within 5 minutes haha!! Typical.
With lots of footage logged we were still missing a few shots that would round out the film. One area which was lacking was high quality bug footage. When you’re focused on catching fish and filming eats you’re not always looking to film the naturals crawling around on banks. With plenty of eats in the bag we set out to find skwalas doing their thing, crawling out of the river, hatching, squirming on the water and flying off rocks and logs.
Day one of 2017 and boom we hit it right on the money. Skwalas were crawling all over the first log we pulled up to and we logged some awesome shots. One thing to note is that we saw lots and lots of bugs that day but the fish weren’t keyed into them yet. We fished hard but just didn’t get the eats. The streamer actually got pulled out and turned up a few nice fish though. The next day we switched systems and got into some amazing fishing. With plenty of footage on the hard drives we made the gamble to go to a stretch of water that hadn’t seen much traffic and hoped we would be rewarded. That choice paid off in a big way with a half dozen of our best eats of the film taking place on that float. With so much success we decided to go back to the same spot the next day. The weather was essentially the same and flows remained stable but the fishing was night and day. The fishing had turned off and only a few eats were had. It wasn’t how you’d hope to end a film trip but that’s the nature of the hatch.
At the end of it all we had spent over 20 days filming for this movie and we’re damn proud of what we’ve created. The final film is 21 minutes long and filled with over 70 dry fly eats. The storyline is simple and it’s filled with good music and even better fishing. Projects like this are big undertakings, but we hope they push the progression of fishing films in the right direction. This is undoubtedly the best video documentation of the hatch to date and your support of this project goes a long, LONG ways in helping fund more content in the future (both free and paid). At the end of the day we can’t do this without the support of our fans. Please consider purchasing SKWALHALLA, it will get you stoked for spring fishing!!!
Words by Zack Boughton