Spring Fishing in Western Montana - Is Winter Over?

2 years ago


It's hard to complain about sunny days in the spring. I spent the last 4 weekends fishing and they've all been really good. Most my time has been on Rock Creek but the Bitterroot also fished well. I caught numerous fish on dries on Rock Creek and have noticed more and more fish actually moving to grab a streamer. A very slow retrieve or dead drift is usually required this time of year.

Everything is looking really good right now. And that could be a problem.

Last year we had salmonflies a full month ahead of schedule. The snowpack is very inconsistent across drainages in western Montana, with some areas being very dry and others very wet. 80-90 percent of normal is showing up in a good number of the high basins but that lower elevation snow has disappeared in a few short weeks. Take a look at current conditions on the USDA website







It only took two weeks for knee deep snow to completely melt off the banks.

What does that mean for the coming summer? If I had to guess, I'd say another year of early hatches, summer closures and low water. That doesn't mean there will be a lack of opportunity but lets hope for a very wet April to saturate the soil and give us a boost of fluid before the heat arrives. The overall streamflow forecasts for the west are looking close to average but this March warm-spell is still concerning.

Outside of Western Montana, things are completely different. Many of the drainages in southwest Montana are showing better than 100 percent of average while the central part of the state looks about average. It will be an interesting year for water in the west with the changing conditions. 


See FlyWise For Yourself - Get the App Today!