What many consider to be the height of the Montana fishing season is soon to arrive and here's our best guess as to what is going to happen and when, given our current river flows, snowpack, weather forecasts and tarot card readings. All bets are off if we get a deluge of rain, or no more rain, or if we win the lottery.
Weather and Flows
Summer weather has arrived in the last couple weeks with 70-85 degree high temps and afternoon thunderstorms which has helped trigger our mountain snowmelt and some bug hatches. Most rivers in the state are high, muddy and largely unfishable, which is standard fare this time of the season. We are going to get a great flushing flow on most Montana rivers this season, which bodes well for the late summer fishing we love to get. All hope is not lost for great June fishing though, as there are some gems in the rough water.
Our home water has been the destination for many Montana anglers the last month as it has fished well through a moderate dam controlled run-off and is now on the drop. We may have seen the peak flows for the season already, depending on rain and irrigation upstream in the next couple weeks. Current flows are just above solid dryfly conditions, the caddis and pmd mayflies have begun to show, so this river is likely about to move into the red zone on the Fish Fun Factor and should sustain straight through until mid-August.
Run-off is chugging along on the Madison, but it appears to be less spectacular than on most other rivers this year. Currently there are fish to be caught sub-surface throughout the system, with the upper of the upper being the hotspot. We think the Salmonflies are going to pop on the lower river in a couple weeks and hustle through that stretch, then onto the upper in the third or fourth week of June. Flows should be solid this summer, and if you miss the big bugs shoot for the spruce moth hatch beginning in late July.
The Gally is currently a bit high and muddy, but it should come into shape again by the last week of June, also with a nice salmonfly hatch to kick start the summer season.
Always the hardest to predict, and it has a ton of snow to melt through the system this year, so it will probably be sometime into July until this river is fishable again. Salmonfly hatch? Who knows - hopefully we'll get to catch it this year.
Blackfoot, Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers
The westside freestones are all in full run-off mode right now as a record snowpack passes through the system and hopefully these rivers come back into shape near the end of the month, possibly in early July for full fishing effect.
The 'Horn has been running at about peak flow for a few weeks now and may continue to do that for the foreseeable future as the dam managers figure out how to handle an epic snowpack and subsequent streamflow. Nymph fishing has been strong, and it may be the only game on the Bighorn for a good while yet.
Paradise Valley Spring Creeks
You can set your watch on the Pale Morning Dun hatch, prime dates are from June 20 to July 10.
Yellowstone National Park
Walk wading classics like Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek, the Lamar and Yellowstone Rivers should be good to go by July 15.