The Montana snowpack March 2013 is predicting a promising upcoming fishing season. We’ve compiled the best data available to us in order for you to make your best decision in planning your next Montana fly fishing trip.
As those of you who follow this information know nearly all of our Montana river water levels are determined from our winter snows. There are a few things to take note of with regard to Mountain Snow Water Equivalent (SWE). Material presented here is updates as of March 27th.
Virtually all of the major drainages have gained moisture in the past month and coupled with slightly cooler temperatures for much of March SWE has increased. Highlights include the Upper Yellowstone, Missouri River, Boulder, Madison, Gallatin and Bighorn are all looking at near average mountain snow water equivalent. As you’ll see from the image below there are no orange or red markers anywhere in the entire state – obviously a good thing. Specific SWE data can be found at the National Resource Conservations Service.
Locations to keep an eye on:
Those drainages that have been struggling with moisture such as the Bitterroot, Blackfoot, Clark Fork, Jefferson and much of eastern Montana including the Stillwater and Bighorn will likely have lower than normal stream flows. The National Weather Services Climate Prediction Center has issued the following 3-month outlook for Montana.
As seen from this image Montana has a 33% chance of having higher than average temperatures and a 33% chance of having lower than normal precipitation in the months of June, July and August. Coupled with the image above we’d recommend avoiding the aforementioned rivers in late August and September IF this forecast, in fact, becomes reality.
So what does this all mean:
First off with the recent years of good water conditions throughout Montana trout populations have increased or held steady. Our prediction is quality fishing throughout the state. In light of all the information available we are not seeing a drought trend for most of the major fisheries. In fact, the majority of Montana drainages, particularly ones fly fishers are concerned about, are indeed near normal water conditions for this point of the season. So water conditions are looking good.
Second, all of this information is only as good as right now. Tomorrow it could change with one warming or cooling trend. All of us remember the freakishly cool and wet spring a couple of seasons ago that had every guide in the state looking for fishable trout water through late July. We all know how difficult it is to forecast weather day-to-day let alone months in advance of our scheduled fly fishing trip.
Finally, planning a fly fishing trip to Montana takes months of advanced planning to coordinate fishing partners/family, arrange travel, lodging, and your favorite fishing guide. So we recommend you continue with these plans, but keep an eye on the weather, snow, and streamflows. Typically most good anglers and guides adjust their fishing strategies to the conditions and it looks like this season will be no exception. Good fishing to you and we look forward to seeing you this season!