High Water Update and Thoughts - 2013 – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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High Water Update and Thoughts - 2013

Well, the high, dirty water of the spring has definitely arrived in the past week to the waters of Southwest Montana. It’s a crazy time of year around here, as things seem to always be in flux regarding water levels and visibility. While we may have a week or two of temperatures in the 80’s, things can change quickly with a little cold front. Just when we think there might be little window of opportunity…the rains come and the rivers go back up once again. The spring melt is one of the most critical influencers of our seasonal fishing in the part of the world, so while it might get a bit annoying at times, the more water we see now translates to better fishing in July and August.

In the meantime, there are still plenty of options when it comes to places to get your feet wet and a tug on the line in the area. This past Saturday marked the opening of the general season so most small streams and all rivers are now open to fishing. Yellowstone Park opens next weekend and that always means rising fish on the Firehole. Area lakes like Hebgen, Harrison, Daily, and more are all fishing well right now as well. Add some spring creeks and “no tell” streams to the list and it’s really a pretty good time of year to fish for the adventurous angler.

The tailwaters like the Missouri, Beaverhead, and Bighorn are always popular choices this time of year as well. They stay relatively clear, offer reliable hatches, and plenty of fish just about everyday. This is always one of out favorite times of year to hit these waters, as it’s a great time of year to catch up with our friends from around the region while enjoying some great fishing in places that we don’t frequent much once things return to normal around home.

We are expecting to see water in the area to start clearing throughout June this year. These are the bigger rivers like the Gallatin, Madison, Jefferson, and Yellowstone, but many smaller rivers and streams should start to run clean even sooner. Post-runoff is always one of the best times of year to be on the water in SW Montana, so start looking ahead as it will be here before we know it.

Salmonflies are just around the corner on the lower and upper Madison Rivers, but their exact timing depends largely on the weather and water temperatures. We expect to see some a little earlier this year provided the weather turns warm and sunny again for a week or two.
Prior to the big bug hatch, their nymphs migrate to the riverbanks for a few days before emerging on the banks. This, coupled with high flows, moves a lot of trout to the banks which in turn makes for some great nymph and streamer fishing once we start to see a foot or so of visibility in the rivers.

So, watch our fishing reports closely to keep up with all the current updates on water and fishing conditions in SW Montana this runoff season. Our guides are on the water all year long and have an excellent handle on the local conditions. It is an exciting time to be on the water once you know where the best opportunities can be found, but be safe and think before you walk out into the water! Better yet, hire one of our professional guides for a day or two this high water season to make the most out of your time on the water and don’t stress about where the best fishing is…we’ll get you there!