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Yellowstone River Run-off Reprieve

Montana's weather is unpredictable. Everyone who lives or fishes here knows that. Just a week ago, it seemed like warm spring weather and its affect on high mountain snow run-off was inevitable. The Yellowstone River was running high (around 16,000 cfs) and dirty--normal for this time of year.

But that all changed this week. A strong weather system has brought unseasonably cold temperatures (it snow-flurried in Paradise Valley two days ago) and a brief halt to run-off. The River is now flowing at 7,860 cfs at the Livingston gauge, about 500 cfs below its median for this date.

This beautiful brown ate a copper articulated Sparkle Minnow

Yesterday, I decided to spend a couple hours throwing streamers on a type six sinking line at a Yellowstone River access in Paradise Valley. I was fishing alone, so I didn't launch my drift boat. You can row a drift boat or throw streamers, but doing both at the same time isn't a good idea.

I only fished on foot for a couple hours, but about a dozen browns ate my streamers as I waded along the banks. Color and even pattern selection didn't seem to matter. I fished a giant, black articulated streamer and the fish ate it. I fished a copper articulated Sparkle Minnow. They ate that too. Before I finished, I threw a white articulated streamer. And yeah, they also wanted that one.

I didn't catch any of the Yellowstone's famous giant brown trout. But I did land a couple very nice fish. I know--they're all nice--but you know what I mean. Wade-fishing the Yellowstone River (fishing it at all, really) in late May is a rare, unexpected gift. And we should take advantage while we can: I didn't see another angler while I was there.

Warmer weather and its snowmelt companion is just around the corner: my brother in Pennsylvania spent the weekend in air conditioning. So get it while you can.

This little guy was my favorite fish from yesterday's outing. You have to admire his greed to eat a streamer a third his size.

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