2018 Montana Snowpack Preface:
It’s that time a year again – anglers are calling, booking trips and asking about how things look for fly fishing Montana in 2018. Good news is that we have a lot of snow, which as most experienced western fly anglers know means the potential for cool water and happy summer trout.
We’ve been watching the snow and making educated summer time forecasts for 18+ years now. One thing we know for certain is that the late Spring weather can enhance or negate all our Montana snowpack conditions. A couple weeks of unseasonably warm weather will reduce snowpack to below average. The inverse is true as well for exceptionally cold Spring weather. Regardless, this is our first look and interpretation of the winter snows for 2018.
Our word of caution – DON’T make drastic changes to your existing Montana fly fishing plans based on this information. If you’re fishing with us or a reputable Montana Outfitter they have things in place for high and low water years. Southwest Montana has a large variety of waters that hold their own during these times including as the DePuy spring Creek, the Missouri River in early season and even Yellowstone National Park‘s many waters.
Current 2018 Montana Snowpack Conditions:
As of mid January the Montana snowpack for nearly every major fishery is at or above 100%. In some cases like the Yellowstone River and Missouri River they are well over at 151% and 131% respectively. The image below shows each river drainage and the corresponding water in the snow or snow water equivalent (SWE). This is due mainly to the heavy October and January snows. In fact most of December and early January have been exceptionally cold and snowy along the Yellowstone River drainage.
What does this mean for fly fishing Montana in 2018?
As always it’s too early to tell anything for certain. However, it’s never too early to start watching. Fortunately, you don’t have to do all the research – we’ll be happy to help you with that. If summer started now we’d advise you to avoid May and June on most of the rivers – with the exception of the Missouri River, Madison River, our Trophy Lakes and local area Spring Creeks. However, we expect a warm Spring again this year. So per usual we’ll be recommending that anglers wishing to fish the Yellowstone River, Boulder River, Stillwater River, and waters in Yellowstone National Park avoid the peak run-off months of May, June and the first week of July if possible.
Have you see our latest webpage, no? Well check it out – When is the Best Time to Fish Montana
If you haven’t yet booked your Montana fly fishing trip we’d recommend coming whenever it works best for you. Don’t make plans around weather and water – unless you have very specific requests – like dry flies only. Remember veteran Montana fly fishing guides have dealt with fluctuating water levels their entire guiding career and they have options when levels or temperatures fluctuate. The best guides will do all they can to get you on the best fishing for that day. As the angler be understanding and flexible and remember the whole idea behind your fishing trip is to have an enjoyable day on the water.