March 2020 Montana Snowpack Update

2020 Montana Snowpack update

As of March 11, 2020 all of Montana’s major fishing drainages are sitting at or above 100% of normal. Obviously, that’s great news for trout and anglers alike. If things continue on the current forecast we should be in for another great year of fishing in SW Montana. Check out the images below and see for yourself.

On another note, our regional 3 biologist Scott Opitz spoke with the our Joe Brooks Trout Unlimited chapter here in Livingston recently. According to their recent fish surveys and comparisons with past data the Yellowstone River trout numbers are maintaining historical averages. Another positive note was very good requirement of 3 year old (approx 16″) rainbows in the sampling. Of course that’s what all of us fly anglers love to hear!

The next few months (April, May & June) temperature and precipitation probability forecasts also look favorable for anglers and trout this year.

Montana temperature forecast 2020
Spring (April, May & June) forecast shows average temperature forecast for the next few months.


2020 Spring precipitation update for Montana
Spring (April, May & June) forecast shows average precipitation forecast for the next few months.

What were the specs on that boat Noah?

What were the specs on that boat Noah

O.K. there’s nothing we can do about it so let’s have some fun with this.


Double Rainbow

We aren’t all gloom and doom over the crazy amounts of rain and snow here in Montana (see the pretty rainbow picture), but it is crazy right now.  As many of you know this is how we get our averages here.  Average 80 degrees in the summertime = Monday it’s 100 + Tuesday it’s 60 degrees.  However, this is getting a bit ridiculous.  Granted it’s heading into Memorial weekend so the weather should be pretty crappy, but they didn’t forecast rain – they forecasted HEAVY rain. Oh, and did we mention the Winter Storm Watch in Paradise Valley and Yellowstone National Park for to day through Monday?

To put it in perspective last week Livingston received about 2.5 inches, the forecast is for another 2 or 3 inches, our annual rainfall is 12 inches.  That’s about 45% of our total rainfall for the year in a total of two weeks yippie.  In eastern Montana last week they got 8 inches in one storm – it washed out bridges and closed the interstate fun.

Once again if you didn’t catch our previous post about the large amounts of snow we still have check it out and consider adjusting your fishing plans this summer.

I remember a story about this, what was it? Oh, yeah Noah can you get us the building specs on that ark you built? Maybe we can use it to float from Yellowstone National Park through downtown Livingston.

Blogging with a snorkel on somewhere near the approaching water…

What’s Up with all that Snow in Montana!?

What's Up with all that Snow in Montana

We’ve been fielding a lot of calls lately about our snowpack so we wanted to relay some information to all those coming out to Montana this summer.

One of the reasons so many people love to fly fish Montana is that we have wild rivers and wild trout.  A large portion of our Montana streams and rivers are freestones, which means no dams.  In the spring when all the snow melts out of the mountains it floods the rivers and renders a majority unfishable for weeks at a time.  You know all that water that the Mississippi is getting – a lot of it starts from the snow melts here. Hence, the term run-off season substitue construction season if you live in a city.  If you come to Montana in late May through June chances are you’ll have some serious run-off issues to deal with.  However, one of the great things about Montana is the variety of waters.  Spring creeks and tailwaters (those with dams) are less affected by this annual event, but tailwaters can still have big flows and virtually no wading opportunities.

Plowing the Beartooth Highway
Plowing the Beartooth Highway

Current Conditions:

We are at 1997 water/snow levels.  We use this date as a benchmark because we had a 100 year flood event through a majority of the waters in the state.  Now we’re sure the weather guys are going to be ‘readjusting’ that event as it was only 14 years ago and it looks like we might have another one.  We are watching it closely as many waters in 1997 had major flood issues and didn’t fish at all until August.

Currently, the National Weather Service has projected that due to La Nina Montana will likely experience a cooler and wetter June than normal.  This seems to be true as we’ve had little snow melt due to warm weather and there’s still plenty of snow in the hills – 180% of normal snow water equivalent in the upper Yellowstone drainage right now.

What does the Mean to Anglers:
Most importantly there will be good fishing throughout Montana no matter what happens remember all the variety we mentioned earlier. So come fishing whenever works best for your schedule, but you might have to be flexible on where and how you fish.  If you only like to fish the Yellowstone River we recommend pushing your fishing dates until late July, August or September – which should fish exceptionally well with all the water we are going to have. If you are coming in June or early July make sure to plan ahead and book some private water (or just call us and we’ll do it for you) as those reservations will be hard to come by in the next week or so.

So that’s the prerun-off scenario right now, but don’t worry we’ll keep you posted with videos and photos sure to follow…

Montana May Snow Pack Levels Up

Montana May Snow Pack Levels Up

The recent cool weather and precipitation have increased our Montana snowpack in the upper and lower Yellowstone river valleys.  About this time of the year, we stop looking at the snowpack levels and start looking at SWE or Snow Water Equivalent.  SWE is a measure of the amount of water left in the snow.

Currently, the Upper Yellowstone is at 86% of normal levels.  The Lower Yellowstone is at 128% of normal.  What does this mean to anglers, tourists and Montana travelers?  Good water conditions for trout and conditions that lower our chances for major forest fires in the late summer and fall.  All-in-all it’s looking like a positive start to our summer fishing season.  We’ll keep you posted.