News Flash: Run-off is over. And while that may sound like good news for the immediate here and now, it foretells of pending low and warm water for the remainder of the year. The month of June has been most interesting. Two episodes of much hotter (all time record breaking) heat waves which resulted in extreme snow melt from the high country. If you look at the mountains and plateaus of the Beartooths, it quickly becomes evident that the white stuff is pretty much gone. Further evidence you ask? Well the Robertson Draw fire and the extreme fire behavior should be sufficient to make the point. I spent a large portion of my ill spent youth chasing fire across the Beartooth and Pryor Mountains, and I’ve never seen the likes of what we witnessed last Tuesday evening. Flames lengths of 200 feet or more ripping across the east face of Line Creek Plateau and eventually Mount Maurice should serves as an absolute wake up/early warning. And it’s only mid-June. Saddle up kids, it’s gonna be a summer, possibly another 1988 or worse. Only time will tell and pray for rain. But all in not gloom and doom.
Given the above information, what does it mean for the average Joe fisher-folk? As you may be aware, MFWP is already talking about restrictions. It likely won’t happen until mid to late July, but if we stay the course of our current weather pattern, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will happen. Thus, fishing will evolve into an early morning endeavor. Hoot Owl restriction typically kick in at 2 pm. And remember what I’ve said before, 70 degree water temperature quickly becomes lethal to trout, we need to stop at 68 degrees and give the fish a break. One other thought …. buy a thermometer and use it. And though, I’ve never extolled these thoughts this early in the season, this year is gonna be weird and maybe it’s the new normal (man I hate that term).
One last thought …. hoppers! If you don’t have them, get them, you are going to need them. As hopper-iferous as last summer was, I think it will pale in comparison to what this year is going to be like. I’m seeing bizillions at my house. All sizes. All colors. They are ravenous and growing fast.
Well it finally happened. The mother’s Day Caddis popped and produced three good to very good days of fishing dries to rising fish. Initially the fish were rather stupid and would eat any decently presented caddis floating in their sight window. By the third day, the fish were so stuffed full of bugs and persnickety, they only seemed interested in pupa caught in the surface tension. Think LaFontaine sparkle pupa which I unfortunately did not have in my possession. It took some serious bank sitting and observations to figure that one out, but what a lovely way to spend an afternoon or three.
And now, that’s done and the water is coming up fast. The Stillwater has gained a foot, Rock Creek has gained almost that much and the Clark’s Fork is up three feet. Can you say mud? Sure, I knew you could. Thus we are entering into the waiting game portion of the season. Not anything we can do to influence the run off, it happens every year, so sit back and enjoy, it cleans out the rivers and carves the hiddy holes we’ll be fishing for the remainder of the year.
Given what I see for snow sitting in the high country, I believe that the last of June or the first of July, as usual, will be the timeframe for reacquainting ourselves with the area streams and rivers and their inhabitants. Time to tend that garden, tie those flies, get your “got to do’s” done.
Stay tuned to this station, as thing progress or opportunities arise, I’ll spill the beans.
Hard to know how to describe the spring and associated fishing thus far in 2021. Generally, the month of April has been a bust. Most of the month has been well below normal temperatures with the occasional spike of very much above normal temperatures. Consistency of water temperatures has not existed and therefore the typically good dry fly fishing has not materialize. I’ve spoken with a few other professionals in the neighborhood and they all admit the same. Little to no real hatches of any magnitude. On a personal note, I can tell you that I’ve seen more baetis and March Browns on my house windows, than I’ve seen on any river. Such is the way of mother nature.
As we roll in to the month of May, the Mother’s Day Caddis should be the thing. In fact, we usually see them during the last week in April, but again with the water temperatures being low, the caddis have not yet popped. Unfortunately, they may do so during the pulse of high and off colored water we are currently facing. However, the cooler temperatures which we are suppose to see during the remainder of the week should help to drop and clear the Stillwater and Rock Creek systems. The Jelly is likely toast until July, but who really knows, all of this is a guess, hopefully an educated one. From now until mid-May, there should be the occasional window of fishing opportunity, but they will become fewer as time goes on. Get it when you can!