It feels like we skipped over spring and are right into summer! 90+ degrees yesterday and the forecast is calling for it again today. Looking ahead, the 10-day forecast has a lot of 80s in it. While this hot weather feels great after a long winter, it’s going to push a lot of melt and runoff into the rivers quickly. What does that mean for fishing? We can expect a big push of water, then it should start to taper off sooner than normal. Should, mind you, doesn’t always mean it will.
Flows on the Yellowstone River this morning are over 15,000 cfs. The gauge is going up and up, and you should check the conditions here for the latest info. Other freestones in the area are in the same boat. High flows and dirty water might be fun for recreational floaters, but anglers should head elsewhere. With that in mind, keep an eye on the flows and water clarity on the Yellowstone. Since there isn’t a lot of snow left in the high country, runoff shouldn’t last as long as it normally does this year.
Where can you go fishing this weekend?
Any of the tailwaters in the region like the Henry’s Fork, Missouri, and Madison are in good shape and worth fishing. The Madison has been off color from the West Fork and other tributaries, and has been pretty dirty. Conditions are changing quickly, so check before making the drive! Be aware that with all the freestones blown out you can expect more traffic on the tailwaters. There’s plenty of river for everyone, but be patient and remember everyone is out there for the same reasons you are.
With fishing season open in Yellowstone Park, there is plenty of good water to cover there. The Northeast Corner waters of the Lamar, Soda Butte, and Slough Creek are still running pretty high and dirty. The Madison, Gibbon, and Firehole offer easy access and good fishing. Our own Joe Fay has been twice in the past week and had good success!
While fishing Yellowstone please be aware of water temps and catch and release best practices. Water temps on the Firehole River have already been flirting with 70 degrees, and proper fish handling is crucial for fish survivability. Keep the fight short, keep the fish in the water, and release them as quickly as possible with minimal handling. Carry a water thermometer and know how to use it, and avoid fishing in the heat of the day.
Summer fishing is right around the corner, and we’re getting a lot of calls for guided fishing trips. Planning ahead is always beneficial in booking a trip, as last minute bookings can be difficult to accommodate. We are expecting the busiest summer on record here in southwest Montana, and as such lodging bookings and rental car bookings are in extreme demand. If you’re coming out to fish, make sure you’ll have a car to drive and a place to stay!
We’re right on the cusp of some of the best fishing of the year. Give us a call at 406.222.1673 or stop by the shop for ideas on where to go and the flies and gear you need to make it happen. Tight lines!