River Flows

Missouri River at Holter: 6090 cfs at 6pm…….three days ago it was 11,200 cfs.

Madison River below Hebgen: 1200 cfs…….five days ago it was 1850 cfs.

Madison River at Kirby: 1880 cfs…….fishing’s not too bad at all with nymphs in the wade stretch.

Madison River at Varney: 2980 cfs…….muddy, but you can catch a few if you try hard enough.

A week ago, most of us on the Missouri and Madison were preparing for a high water year.  Then, things started to drop and flow managers, it seems, began to panic about filling the lakes and the flows were pared back to say the least.   Some folks are saying that runoff has peaked……this being said, it’s only June 4th and there’s still boat loads of snow in the high country.   I believe that round two of runoff is not far behind.  More warm weather is in the forecast and I plan on taking a hike up into the high country next week to check a few spots and look at snow pack.  With any luck, Hebgen will fill by the end of the month and we wont’ have a situation like last season with low flows and dried up spawning beds.  Canyon Ferry is filling as this is being written, but there is concern that it too won’t fill to full capacity.

This water management concept seems to be hard to figure out……..snow falls and then it melts, at some point a lake or two needs to be filled.  While there are lots of variables in the equation and after this many years of managing water, one would think that the water managers would have a easier time with filling the lakes.

If Hebgen isn’t filled by the end of month, it will be disappointing to say the least – this was a banner year for snow pack and filling the lakes should’ve have been an easy task.   There is a flow meeting in West Yellowstone on June 12th held by PPL, should be an interesting time.

The Missouri has been, for the most part, pretty good fishing for the past month.   From 1-3 fishing’s been a little weird.   Some days the fish are grabby in some spots and other days they have moved out of the runs.   We’re not getting em’ everywhere and are having to work a little bit.  We’ve been mostly nymphing with sow bugs, worms, caddis pupa and bwo nymphs.   As the river began to drop a few days ago, the dry fly fishing reared it’s head.  A fish here and there were up eating spinners and we found a couple smallish pods that were easily put down after a fish was hooked and blew up jumping it’s way off the hook.

While there is NOT full blown dry fly fishing on the Missouri, we are getting closer each day.   If these Missouri flows stabilize and stop jumping around, the caddis should begin and we can stop staring at the bobber all day long.  PMD’s? They’ll come soon enough….and when they do the river will come alive.

At this point, my guess is that we’ll be fishing salmonflies on the Madison by the end June……..don’t hold me to this as my crystal ball broke about 38 years ago.