High Water on the Gallatin – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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High Water on the Gallatin

The Gallatin River is a freestone river, meaning, that it is undamned and controlled by mountain snowpack. Freestones can provide amazing fishing with plenty of hatches and amazing scenery around every bend. Because the river is naturally defined by seasonal altercations, it is susceptible to weather conditions. The Gallatin is a prime example of what can happen when it storms. Even after most of the runoff is cleared, a good storm bringing lots of rain into the upper reaches of the river can produce a mud plug. This is caused by rain water that runs down feeder streams and bringing substances down river with it. As you have probably already guessed these mud plugs can make it difficult for fly fishing, with an increase in flows and decrease in visibility, trout are less willing to eat your flies. Many anglers during this time stay at home, tie flies, or fish other waters, when there is typically good water to be found during a mud plug. These plugs move through all at once throughout the water system, providing windows of fishing. When the Gallatin national forest receives a good amount of rainfall, the Taylor’s Fork and the West Fork of the Gallatin are normally the reason for this discoloration. These two streams both bring a lot of different sediments into the Gallatin. Normally when this happens you can distinguish which stream is the one creating this plug. The Taylor’s Fork often brings in a tannish brown color to the river and the West Fork brings in more of a darker brown. This is important because then you are able to locate where this plug is flowing from and find cleaner more consistent water above these tributaries and find good fishing. Often times these plugs only last for a day or so before it is flushed down to their drainages, so it is a good idea to pay attention to when these have moved passed in order to beat the crowds and find good fishing before others. To check out the water quality on the Gallatin take a look at the webcam attached to our Upstream fly shop!