Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Montana Runoff Back To Normal

Ron Burgandy Meets Bill Dance. 
Along with being self-professed experts in all areas of fish behavior ("what the heck do these little buggers want today" ; "goddangit they were all over this fly yesterday") fishing guides thoroughly enjoy masquerading as weathermen. We pour over snowtel reports and intently read ocean temperature models all with the hope of better predicting what kind of water we will find ourselves on the next summer or the next day. If I had to rank frequency of discussions the   BRG  crew have at the brewery most nights it would go 1) todays fishing, 2) tomorrows weather, 3) Giants hitting slump / hot streak, 4) Authentic Frontier Gibberish. The weather and its impact on the river is by far the variable that we fret about the most. The best flies in the world (youheard it here first!) will only take us and our clients so far, the rest is relying completely on the capable hands of Momma Nature.

So what does she have in store for us?

Current Flows & Trends:

So far 2015 has started out strong on all fronts: Good weather, consistent precipitation and a very mild pre-runoff have seen us out on the Bitterroot and Big Hole with consistently good fishing. This is a far cry from last years mammoth snowpack and other similar highwater years. In those years the upper Bitterroot river can peak at close to 9,000 - 10,000 CFS, an extremely impressive volume for this river and one that makes your favorite 12-mile float take about an hour. No joke. These Ark-like conditions have occurred most recently in 2011 and 2014 and they will definitely push your calendar back a few weeks: In 2011 the upper Bitterroot was 2,000 CFS above average all the way through July, and the Clark Fork didn't regain clarity until mid-August!

Last years banner winter left the mountains with a whopping 215% of normal snowfall. We rode out a huge month-long runoff and got to solid fishing by middle June. This year will be the other side of the snowpack coin. Snowtel levels are pretty low all across Montana while overall precipitation is hovering right at average, meaning we're getting plenty of expected precipitation it's just showing up as rain instead of snow. As long as the rain holds out we will be enjoying an excellent summer. No gigantic dangerous high water season for us, just easy flows all the way into summertime.

Not A Client, More Of An "Enthusiast"

What This Means For Us / Get Out And Go Fishing:
The lower-than-average snowpack this season is offering us a virtual slamdunk for the up-coming weeks. In the aforementioned heavy snow years (2011, 2014) the river took longer to warm up to trout-comfortable temperatures and generate the hatches that come along with them. Recent experience of 2015 so far has indicated all the hatches are 1-2 weeks ahead of normal schedule due to warm spring temperatures. Some really ideal hatch conditions are going on right now. The hatches we've seen so far have all come off in banner numbers, more Skwalas, March Browns, BWO's, and Caddis than we have seen the last three years. Will this continue into June hatches of Salmonflies and Goldens? Almost definitely. So far this years runoff hasn't kept many people off the river, it has remained juicy and fishy if just a bit bigger than comfortable. Water temps and flows should be prime by June 1st and only improve through July. Best Weatherman / Guide advice is to get out there while the getting is good and hit the front end of our Montana dryfly fishing as often as possible!

Fallback Option: Autumn in Craig

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