Snow pack Update

Jefferson – 65%

Madison – 85%

Gallatin – 88%

Upper Yellowstone – 86%


Madison River Stream flows  05.02.2012

@ West Yellowstone – 742 cfs

below Hebgen – 1080 cfs

@ Kirby – 1310 cfs

@ Varney – 1760 cfs

Beartrap – 1960 cfs



All this warm weather lately has me thinking about May 19th (MT General Season Opener), the month of June and what is to come for the 2012 Season.  What you are about to read are just thoughts that have occurred to me, all in regards to run-off and what might be store for us in the months to come.  A piece about the weather, snow pack and run-off is hard to nail down exactly – Mother Nature does what she wants, when she wants.  So, all this could happen, but it might not.  True outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the unpredictability of the natural world.

An attempt at seeing the future…..snow pack as well.

Lots of snow exists in the high country and the snowline is hovering around 7500 feet, with north faces holding a bit more lower in elevation.  Snow will continue to fall around Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas throughout the next month or two.  Cabin and Beaver have blown out (for a week straight and still a bit dirty) already, pushing brownish-green water through Quake Lake and into the upper Madison.  The Gibbon puked mud as well.  To the south of West Yellowstone, there is more snow, to the north and west of Hebgen Lake, it is a bit lighter.  The West Fork of the Madison melted out some, although this drainage holds an amazing amount of snow pack, even in low snow years.

I wouldn’t bet the house on it, but, the upper Madison could be finishing up with run-off around the 22nd of June and hatches not far behind.  Below Hebgen Dam to the West Fork, the river will fish well from May 19th through the rest of the summer.  As for the Yellowstone River in MT, it could be fishable by the end of the first week of July, a full month earlier than last year.  The Firehole generally drops and PMDs hatch around the first week of June.  I bet the Gallatin will be clearing in late June, unless the Taylor’s Fork get hammered with wet snow over the next month.

After the snow melts, then what?  This is the tough part.  Will it be hot and dry during July and August?  Or, will it rain in the afternoons and keep the rivers cooled off…?….nobody knows.  On the Madison, we are dealing with Hebgen Dam issues and that hasn’t done the river any favors since 2009.  The upside is that the trout are there, they just get moody once the river warms up.  Last season’s runoff fished great and the Salmonfly hatch was the best in a dozen years.  Huge trout were caught on big flies.  Fishing was solid, but got somewhat hit and miss during August and September, depending on where you fished.  This winter’s angling was pretty darn good, showing us healthy fish and positive things to come. Currently, the Madison from Mac to the Town Ramp is dropping, clearing and fishing better each day.   Belows Ennis lake there are caddis….I hear it’s been good. Construction is progressing at Hebgen Dam, with work this summer to be done inside the new discharge structure.  Yellowstone NP waters will be lower than last season, providing for spookier trout.  However, angling will be wonderful in the Park.  The Yellowstone River in Montana should fare well after last few seasons big water….will there be salmonflies on a green river?  Hopefully so. And the Missouri River will prove to be one of the greatest western trout streams ever.  It may get a bit warm in late summer, but this could be the year of the dry fly with pods of trout similar to 1999 -2002 era.

For now, we wait and see.