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Yellowstone River Run-off Reprieve

A Paul Weamer, Weamer Fly Fishing LLC, photo of a brown trout caught in Paradise Valley, Montana

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.

Paul Weamer, Weamer Fly Fishing LLC, photo of a Yellowstone River brown trout caught on a streamer
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.

A Paul Weamer, Weamer Fly Fishing LLC, photo of a small brown trout from Montana's Yellowstone River
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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