For the last eighteen years I have been fly fishing the Gallatin River; and, I have never seen the snow melt come this fast, furious, and early. I often presented readers of this blog with my long held belief that you don’t want to fish the Gallatin until the end of the first week of July…Before that time, the river was almost guaranteed to be a muddy mess.
House Rock During Runoff
Well, we’re in a new abnormal. Climate change came to Montana just as fast and furious as the Gallatin River’s snow melt. This year, the Gallatin was ready to fish by the third week of June. I guess we (Bozeman) should have seen it coming because our past winter was packing some pretty weak sauce. From what I understand, the snow pack in the mountains was just ok. The warm weather just came faster this year and the snow pack didn’t have much of a chance…Instead of a steady trickle, we got a surge.
Currently, my suggestion to all readers who intend to fly fish, hike, and camp in southwest Montana is to do it right now, during the month of July. Who knows how long the clear skies and water levels will last. My guess is that it won’t be long before the forrest fire smoke from a neighboring State or, god forbid, from here locally, chokes the skies.
As for the water levels and temperature, the local rivers, including the Gallatin, will probably soon shut down at 2:00 pm until midnight. I’m fishing only in the mornings, right now; and, I’m off the river by 1:00 pm at the latest.
It’s not all doomsday yet. You just have to be more flexible on your vacation timing.
In the meantime, pray for cooler weather. Montana is in an unprecedented drought right now. People and the fishies are wondering what the future holds.
During this period of a new abnormal, it’s more important than ever to know exactly where you’re going fishing so that you don't waste any of your time. Use the following PhotoMap to pinpoint your destination.