Wapiti Waters' 2010 fishing season forecast based on over 30 years experience in western Montana's trout fisheries.
Jamie caught this trout in
July on the Bitterroot.
Wapiti Waters photo
- When is the best time to fish western Montana
- Fishing for northern pike on the Bitterroot
- Fly fishing the Blackfoot River in a rain storm
- Merle's articles on Examiner.com
I have just read they will be shipping snow by truck to the site of the 2010 Olympic Games – Cyprus Mountain. Mother Nature has not cooperated but they have had time to prepare for the lack of snow. Likewise, here in the fishing business where a trout fishery depends a lot on good, cold stream flows, we have time to prepare or plan for what looks to be a lean water year.
I hate drought, everybody and everything suffers during times of water stress. Unfortunately conditions are looking more and more like drought as snowpack in the Bitterroot is around 54% of normal at the time of this writing. We have had three months of below average snow precipitation and we have less than two months of winter to go. So the prognosis is not good. What this actually means for the fishing, however, is not all gloom and doom.
Here are my predictions for the 2010 season.
March and April – Early Spring fishing
Expect fishable water through-out this time. Because our low elevation snow is meager, we should have better than average fishing with more fishable days. It is the melting low elevation snow that causes the rivers to pulse up too quickly with warm weather and/or rain. So I predict excellent early spring fishing in western Montana and that means Skwala and nemoura stones as well as Ameletus and Rithrogenia mayflies.
May and June – Usual period of high-water conditions
Again, I expect better than average fishing for these two months. Many hatches such as the salmonfly; pteronarcella, larger stoneflies; March Brown; and Hydropsyche caddis will come off in good numbers during this time and have the trout looking up on a more consistent basis. Pulsing high waters in the average snowpack year don’t give the trout a chance to key on these hatches before water levels may become too big. This year under the possible lower than average flows, it is likely that trout will get a chance to really key in on them. As a result, these conditions may bring some remarkable fishing.
No matter how big or small the snowpack there will be a time of peak run-off for a 2-3 week period. When this happens, most area rivers will probably be unfishable because of high, turbid water. Here is where flexibility becomes important. Some rivers will likely be fishable and changing the location/river will allow you to take advantage of good conditions. Wapiti Waters has the knowledge and permits that can put you on the right water.
July and August – Summer fishing
Early July is usually a time of some of the most consistent fishing. I expect that to be the case given the number and variety of aquatic insects that emerge during this time. However, by mid-July the prognosis is not good. Using a preferred strategy for low, warm water conditions in mid-summer, we will need to fish from early morning to early afternoon. Fishing early is in favor the trout and yourself – beating the heat. It is quite possible that rivers like the Blackfoot and the Big Hole will have some angling restrictions during this time.
September and October – Fall Fishing
It is a little too early to predict eight months in advance. Our fall fishing is usually a fly fishers dream here in western Montana. Low flows in the summer are not the single deciding factor of unfavorable fall fishing conditions. For example, last year we had a huge snowpack but we had very tough fall fishing because of unseasonably warm temperatures and bright, sunny weather.
In the mean time, I hope the weather systems in the Pacific will deliver us some welcome precipitation through-out the year.
Contact information: Toll free 800-254-5311, email firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.wapiti-waters.com.
- Fishing and river articles and photos by Merle Ann Loman by key word:
Here is a slideshow of more western Montana photos. To see the album on line with descriptions click Merle's western Montana fishing photo album.