Here are some key takeaways for the PFS operations area:
Good winter snowpack is now melting furiously due to near-record temperatures (in the 80s in Livingston), which has everything except the Firehole and Lower Madison blown-out now.
Anticipate a brief spring season for the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison inside YNP, as well as the lower Madison. The Madison basin inside and outside Yellowstone Park has the lowest snowpack in our operations area and it is melting quick.
The Yellowstone River outside YNP is likely to fall into fishable shape during the last week of June, with the Salmonfly hatch at the same time.
Waters across the northern part of Yellowstone Park will begin falling into shape around June 15-20, with the Yellowstone in the Grand Canyon and the Gardner first. The Black Canyon of the Yellowstone will come into play around June 25 or so, while the Lamar System will probably come in around or after July 4.
Slow fishing in late afternoon may occur in late July and August due to warm water temperatures, particularly on low-elevation sections of the Yellowstone east of Livingston, but the Yellowstone has the highest snowpack in our ops area, so except for a few days of “early on, early off” when it’s hot and sunny, we anticipate no other problems. At this time, we do not anticipate any “hoot owl” restrictions on any of our July-September waters. Restrictions are likely on the Jefferson, lower Madison, and other areas we never fish (and no one else fishes) in mid-late summer.
Cold weather over the past few days has dropped the Yellowstone and Boulder Rivers into marginally fishable shape. They would have gone lower, but the cooldown was accompanied by a VAST amount of snow and rain yesterday and today, so things are still pretty marginal.
As of right now, the Yellowstone is flowing at 7350cfs at Gardiner and 9870cfs in Livingston. “Safe” float levels are 10,000 in Gardiner and 12,000 at Livingston, with the float stretches that are safe limited to flatter sections without aggressive eddies, such as the Cinnabar to Yankee Jim, Carbella to Point of Rocks, or Emigrant to Mallard’s Rest sections. The Boulder is down to 1560cfs, with 2000 safe. I’m not sure if the large tree which forms a dangerous and almost impassable barrier on the Boulder at Spring Creek Campground south of Big Timber is still there or not.
At the above flows, streamers pounded on the bank on sink-tips, using 1X or heavier tippet, is your best bet. You may also move some fish on stonefly and large attractor nymphs drifted through bankside pockets, but you’ll lose a lot of flies doing this.
Neither river is low enough for more than very difficult wade-fishing. On the Yellowstone, concentrate on the steep, rocky banks through and just past the town of Gardiner, fishing the slow holes next to the banks.
Here’s the flow data for the Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs, near Gardiner:
Here’s the streamflow predictions for the river at Livingston. Predictions are not provided for the Corwin Springs graph. Subtract about 2000cfs from the Livingston graph to get an approximation of expected flows at Corwin.
That big spike Tuesday afternoon will definitely be “all she wrote” for the runoff break fishing. Temperatures in Livingston are forecast to rise into the high 80s by next weekend, and that will send the remaining snow GUSHING down. Expect rivers to begin dropping again about 3 weeks after they shoot up.
Out-of-state residents visiting Montana have been under mandatory quarantine orders since June 1. These orders are due to lift June 1, which means tourism and therefore our guiding season can reopen starting then. We also expect the Montana entrances to YNP to reopen on the 1st, since the holdup has been the quarantine order.
We are VERY eager to book trips this summer, and there will be many fewer anglers on the water this year compared to most…
Key takeaways for visitors to Montana and our shop:
Montana entrances remain closed due to our state’s 14-day quarantine rule for nonresidents. I expect the reopening of the Wyoming entrances to accelerate Montana’s opening procedures, for good (we need the money) and ill (literal illness increases).
A key note is that fishing will remain closed until Phase II of the park’s reopening plan. To view the plan, check this link. The document states a “May/June” timeframe for reopening fishing.