Thursday, January 26, 2017

Let It Snow : Montana Winter

Let It Snow, Let It Snow. 2017 has started out as a throwback to what winters of old in Montana were known for. Below-freezing temperatures and tons of snow in the mountains and valleys is more in keeping with what winter is supposed to be than the warm, dry winters of the last three years. I wish the best for all my sedan-driving friends and remember why 4x4 is such a nice insurance policy when the passes get a foot of snow and the plow is miles away. Shovels, towropes, and chains permanently live in the truck this time of year rounding out the winter kit that we hope we won't have to use. No promises its only the end of January after all. ..

Winter life around town consists of mellow mornings stoking the fire, coffee n' eggs, and tying flies well into the afternoon. For us full-time fishing guides winter is proper down time, a laid back pace of life that starts late with the sun on the coldest of days. Whatever strikes the fancy to fill the time; Read a years worth of books in three months; Get out hunting powder as often as possible; Or tie a summers worth of hoppers. Fishing guides and wildland firefighters share this same seasonality of life with long stretches of off-time to get out of town or hunker down and hibernate for a few months every year.  In the summer months following the sun means getting up with first cockcrow around 430am so in keeping with this heliophilic lifestyle it just makes sense to get the late start during the cold months. One of these years I will get my sh*t together and spend February on a remote island chasing schools of bones'. Until then I will wander the woods on foot and on ski waiting for the sunshine to bring the Cutthroats back to the surface. Cross-country and downhill skiing keeps the cardio working and gives firsthand experience of exactly how much snow is living in the hills. This year there is a lot. I mean quite a frickin' lot. Don't get yourself off the packed trail or you will be post-holing for a long while.

Add to this, of course, a few "guide meetings" down at the brewery for scheduling the upcoming years worth of days spent on the river. "Bring your calendars, boys, we gotta talk". Cabin fever is no match for delicious RedDread and some nachos with the guide crew on a music-filled Thursday night. We start booking our calendars as soon as the holiday frenzy calms and folks start daydreaming right along with us about June dryflies and miles of beautiful Montana riffles. This year is already shaping up to be a record-breaker for guide days and so far we have the snowfall to make it downright epic. I'm no prognosticator but fishermens hunches have to count for something.

For those interested current snowpack can be found below:

Montana Snowtel Map Jan 26

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