Elegant Journeys

American West: Update – Current Stream and River Conditions (Aug 2021)

As a follow up to our report in late July, Kristene and I just returned from a week in Montana.  It looks like Autumn is knocking on the door and we are optimist for improved conditions and great fishing well into October.
We arrived August 14 and were disappointed to see temperatures still in the high 80s and low 90s.  There was a haze over the Bozeman Airport, and it was clear that we would be facing smoky conditions.  Heading west to our cabin, we crossed over a number of streams and rivers – the Gallatin, Madison, Boulder, Warm Springs Creek and the Clark Fork.  Visually, I was pleased to see a bit more water than I was anticipating. 
The next three days continued to be hot, and visibility was impacted by the smoke.  The Air Quality Index (AQI) was certainly unhealthy for sensitive groups.  Per Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks’ (FWP) “Hoot Owl” mandate, there was no fishing past 2P.  This took my evening angling away – may favorite time to fish in August.   Despite the warm temperatures, fishers hitting the water early when it was still quite cool had very good fishing.  Sometimes low water makes finding the trout easier!
We had a great client at Three Rivers Ranch in eastern ID average over 20 fish per day and he landed a 23” brownie in late July.  At Big Hole Lodge last week, a 22-year return client had one of his best weeks ever, including a terrific day on the Big Hole – the guide’s best day of the season. 
On Wednesday evening, the tide certainly turned in a favorable direction.  By Thursday, we had a tremendous amount of rain, high temperatures were in the 50s and it was overcast, cool and wet through our departure on August 21.  The rain and cooler temperatures had a positive impact on the firefighting, the AQI improved dramatically with virtually no smoke in the air, and flows improved significantly on several fisheries.  Water temperatures were also falling – all terrific news!
On August 23 at 2P, Montana FWP has lifted closures and restrictions on several Montana rivers and river sections due to the wet weather and cooler temperatures on both sides of the Continental Divide.  The 10-day forecast ahead looks great with daily highs between 63 and 77 degrees.  Nights are ranging from 38 to 44 degrees, which we really like to see to keep water temperatures down. 
We are very optimistic looking ahead into September and October for great fall fly fishing.  We still have some availability through the autumn season.  My favorite time to fish in the West is after Labor Day.  If you want to plan a great last minute trout trip, there are some great options for your consideration.  Kristene and I will be back on Montana waters October 20 and cannot wait!!!

Mike Fitzgerald

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Travels with his camera, walking sticks, golf clubs, skis, and fly rods.