Temperatures in the mid 80s last week – A winter storm warning calling for over a foot of snow at elevations above 7500ft for tomorrow…yep – that sounds about right. Springtime in MT – conditions seem to change by the minute. About the only thing consistent at this time of year is the inconsistency of water conditions on rivers such as the Yellowstone, Gallatin or even Madison. Fishable one minute, high and muddy the next – it’s unpredictable at best leaving us a perfect excuse to head to the Missouri. With flows regulated by the Holter Dam, conditions stay relatively consistent on this tailwater fishery even on big water years like that which we are experiencing now. Consistent conditions makes for consistent fishing – just as simple as that – and it makes good sense to spend some time here right about now.
The river has a lot of water this year. Currently flows are running around 9000cfs, perhaps twice what we had last year at this time. And while higher water certainly puts a damper on the dry fly potential, the nymphing is nothing short of spectacular. San Juan Worms, Fire Bead Scuds, Sow Bugs – these seem to be the staples fished on the inside corners and soft banks. Blue Winged Olives, a few March Browns and caddis are hatching as well and wet flies imitating such will also get the job done when fished in the right spots at the right time. Forecasts call for nearly an inch of rain tomorrow and a high of 46. Time to go find the long underwear, the hat and gloves….I thought I was done with that stuff.