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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.

Background:
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…

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