2013 Montana fishing forecast
April 19, 2013
Bozeman - Freshwater Fishing Report
For anyone making a trip West this season here are some forecasts on what we expect for the 2013 season. Generally by late April we have a pretty good idea of where our snow pack is. Most of the watersheds in Southwest and Western Montana are currently hovering between 95-100% of the 20 year average. May and June are typically good moisture months for Montana so there is still time for things to change and if we get cold and wet weather the snowpack could end up above average and if it gets dry and warm early the opposite can happen, but as it stands now things are looking like the will be pretty "normal". The states to the south are having another dry year so it looks like Montana will be the place to be in 2013 in the Rocky Mountain region.
Montana has a wide range of different fisheries. Some like the Yellowstone, Boulder and Stillwater collect water from the highest mountains in the state prolonging run off and others like the Madison have a lower elevation drainage allowing them to clear earlier. There are also numerous spring creeks and tailwaters that fish at their best during the high water season. What that means for anglers is that conditions from river to river are highly variable and some are better early in the season and others later. Here is a quick snapshot of what to expect. For a more detailed current report visit http://www.montanaangler.com
Early May is predictably awesome with the heaviest hatch of the year - the Mothers Day Caddis - producing explosive dry fly action on the Yellowstone and Lower Madison. There are also March Browns and Baetis to add to the mix. It should be great this year.
Late May to early June
Some rivers like the Yellowstone will blow out by Mid May. May 18th is the general opener for smaller waters and we love late May. The spring creeks really turn on. The firehole in the Park is really terrific and the Madison is on fire (the upper portion and also the Lower - the lower reaches of the Upper Madison blow out). The dry fly options are more limited with the exceptions of the Firehole and spring creeks but the catch rates are high and big fish are common.
Mid to Late June
This will be a great window in 2013. Some of the rivers will be coming out of run off then which is always a great time to fish them. The Upper Madison will probably clear in the 3rd week of June along with some other favorites. The Missouri is also on fire at this time of year with the PMD hatch. This is also THE time to fish the spring creeks over the PMD hatch. Salmonflies should be hatching in late June this year on the Madison and Yellowstone.
Another great time to fish. The rivers that drain the higher elevation mountains will be in full form such as the Yellowstone, Stillwater and Boulder producing steady hatches and great attractor dry fly fishing. The spring creeks are still going strong with the end of the PMD hatch. This will be a great dry fly window across Montana. This is also a good time for DIY fishing since the water is a bit lower and better for wade fishing but the hatches are good and the fish are still fresh.
Late July to Early August
This will be the peak of terrestrial season with some very good hopper fishing. Another nice time for dry fly fishing.
Late August and Early September
This time period can produce less consistent fishing on the public waters since the trout have seen some flies. Access is easy with lower waters, however. We like to move to a lot of private water fisheries this time of year or more remote access locations to find trout that haven't received much pressure.
Late September to early October
This is a predictably great time to fish all waters in Montana. The rivers are almost empty and the fish have forgotten the flies that they saw in mid summer so even the public waters are productive again. We often get some great late season terrestrial fishing and there are some early fall runs of browns on some rivers.
Late October to November
This is the prime window to target huge fall run browns. The weather is generally still nice but you have to be ready just in case an early wintery storm hits. We catch browns in the 25-30" range every year in the late fall including a 32" brown last November!
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