By Ennion Williams
The rivers have started the spring runoff,
but with nighttime temps in the 30s
at high elevations, the snow is taking its
time melting. Snowpack was heavy all
winter and increased in May. According
to the Snotel website, the snowpack
in the Gallatin range
increased 101 percent between
May 1 and June 1.
Mountain precipitation
in May was 118 percent
of average. This should
equate to the Gallatin
River running at 156 percent
of normal streamflow
this summer. The story is similar
with all rivers in Montana this year.
Where is an angler to go in these conditions?
Lake fishing is a good option. Hebgen
Lake has been fishing well on some
of the sunnier days. A midge hatch there
brings large trout near the surface.
There are several spring creeks in the
area with excellent fishing during high
water. DePuy, Armstrong and Nelsons
spring creeks are all outside of Livingston
and offer excellent dry fly and
streamer fishing in the spring.
The M-Z Ranch in Belgrade
also offers challenging
sight fishing near
the East Gallatin River.
Just outside Dillon is
McCoy Spring Creek,
which has some exciting
fishing as well. These are
all private and require a rod fee. If you’re
not familiar with the creeks, it’s best to
hire a guide, as these fish are selective
and can be difficult to catch.
The salmonfly hatch is not far off. This
will start first on the Firehole River in
Yellowstone Park and on the Henry’s
Fork River in Idaho. Soon after, it will
hatch on
the Lower
Madison
and Yellowstone
rivers, as well.
Salmonflies are large
stoneflies that emerge onto
the riverbanks. Anglers enjoy
this hatch because the fly
patterns are large, and the fish
are hungry for them. Once
temperatures warm up, this
hatch will get underway and
last for about three weeks. This
year however, high water may
prevent anglers from being able
to fish this hatch effectively.
Ennion Williams is a professional
Fishing Guide and Outfitter in Big
Sky. He can be reached at (406) 579-7094
or at ennion3@yahoo.com. He also runs
Big Sky Local Foods.
bigskylocalfood.com