Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fishing the Runoff

The runoff from the spring melt finally started a little over a week ago here in SW Montana. It's a little later than usual which should be good for the rivers this summer. This is always a kind of tricky time of year as much of the rivers and streams are in a pretty crappy state. A lot of locals head to the valley lakes looking for post spawners that are getting on the Chironomid hatches. Personally, I prefer moving water so this is the time of year that I try to hit the tailwaters (usually either the Bighorn or the Missouri) in search of clear water and spring flushing flows.

This spring has been different than most in that the runoff has been delayed by cold nights and the weekly snow storm in the mountains. Local rivers like the Yellowstone and Gallatin are both dropping very quickly and shoudl be fishable again in a couple of days but this should only last for a few days and might not happen at all if we see some significant rainfall. But it is certainly worth watching as these rivers fish amazingly well when flows are dropping, especially the Yellowstone.

I've been up on the Missouri quite a bit the last couple of weeks hoping for some flushing flows but being surprised by the bite regardless. Flows have been relatively low (around 4000 cfs +-) for this time of year and the dry fly fishing has been pretty absent the last couple of weeks. Nymph fishing is so good this time of year that I would honestly have a hard time switching to dries anyway unless I were to see pod after pod of rising fish. This could happen this week up there if the weather warms up as there are  a lot of Caddis below the canyon and the water is clearing as the Dearborn drops as a result of the cool nights. This should be short lived too, but who knows for sure.

As far the nymphing goes right now, it's been very good once you find where the fish are holding. They're all over the place but they are concentrated below the riffles and ledges along the deeper seams. Tough to get at wade-fishing but pretty easy from the boat. The fish are hungry, eating well, and not too picky either. I've been fishing just a few patterns and varying the weight depending on depth and water speed, sometimes the flies get more bug specific and I've had to go down in tippet size on bright, calm afternoons but it's been worth messing with as it can go from getting one every few drifts to doubling up on every drift once you get it figured out.

I've got a couple days up there this coming week and all of the following week. If you can get up here May 26-30, I am open those dates for the Missouri and fishing will be about as good as it gets.

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