Last winter we received an over abundance of snow that seemed as if it would never stop falling. All the drainages in the state were well above normal levels. We started our season in April due to the unusual winter and had some good fishing locally. The Missouri River fished really well in mid-May and into June. Around about mid-June, we were in full run off mode statewide.
Most of the rivers in the Bozeman area were unavailable and the Missouri River was fishable from the Dam to the Dearborn River only. The Dearborn was pumping mud downstream and making the fishing impossible downstream. By late June the Madison River became fishable, the Missouri River had cleared up throughout, and the Yellowstone River was getting close. The salmonfly hatch was pretty good this past year. The Salmonflies blew through the Yellowstone River quickly allowing for a few good days, and the Madison River was better than average this year. The PMD’s on the Missouri were a little later than normal, but when they showed up they stayed for a considerable time making for some great dry fly fishing. By mid July, all rivers were fishable and fishing well. The Gallatin, Madison and Yellowstone Rivers were all in great shape.
This being the second year that the dam has been fixed on the Madison River and an abundance of water made fishing on the upper and lower Madison fabulous. Better than it has been in years. Water temps remained cool season long, and the trout were very happy. This was by far the most I have fished the Upper Madison with clients in a long time. Hopefully, the dam will continue to pump cold clean water into the river from here on out.
When the calendar hit August, the grasshoppers were absurd on almost every river in the state. The Yellowstone and Madison Rivers fished unbelievably well with a variety of hopper patterns well into late September. We experienced very few days over 90 degrees, and the water temps stayed moderate, making for some unbelievable great fishing into the late summer months. Many guides and clients have said that this was the best "hopper" fishing in the last decade.
October is generally a mild season for us here in SW Montana, but we got some unseasonable colder temps and quite a few snow storms. In fact, we broke a 35 year record for snowfall. We also saw some unlikely arctic weather pushing the lows below zero degrees. We did eventually warm back up to normal temps, but we went from summer to winter quickly.
We won’t put our rods away yet, but I am waiting for it to warm up a bit more before I head out to the area rivers to do a little fishing on my own.