It’s that time of year when we start making predictions on what our local river conditions will be like during the 2019 Missoula fly fishing season! It’s similar to looking into a crystal ball, which just means we’re speculating based on winter snowpack, spring water conditions, and future weather predictions. It’s something we do in the fishing industry, especially in the west, every year. Are we always correct? No. Are we sometimes correct? Yes. If you plan on fly fishing in Missoula this upcoming season, here are our predictions for fall/summer river conditions and fishing:
This river continues to get better and better every year. This might be the best dry fly river in the entire state. Clarkfork fish just love eating dries and then fighting hard once hooked. This drainage had good snowpack this winter up over 100% on the Upper and Lower drainages. That means we should have great water conditions throughout the summer/fall months. We predict this year will be yet another banner year. The Clarkfork had great water conditions last year making for healthier fish this year. If you’ve never fished the Clarkfork River it is an absolute must for every angler out there!
The Bitterroot River is one of those rivers that people either love or hate. When the Bitterroot is on it’s one of the best trout rivers on earth, when it’s not you might think it doesn’t have a fish in it. It’s just a moody river that rewards those willing to work hard and figure her out. The Bitterroot is in a big valley and braids out quite a bit with changes every year after runoff. When those changes happen, it becomes a new river and you have to put in your time to figure things out. Those who love this river love that challenge and are prepared for the challenge. When you figure out the Bitterroot, the payoff is BIG. In fact most all our big brown’s come from this river. The Bitterroot drainage system had a great snowpack this winter over 117% in March/April. That means we should see good water conditions this summer/fall and after last year’s good water conditions the fish are happy and healthy.
The river made famous by Norman Mclean in a “River Runs Through It” should have great conditions this summer/fall. Great snowpack this winter, a nice wet spring and happy/healthy fish from last year’s good water conditions all make for a good combination. If your accustomed to fly fishing in Missoula, you already know this river is completely different than our other local rivers. It’s in a smaller constricted valley making for a faster more boulder-filled river. It’s a quintessential trout stream with lot’s of willing native Westslope Cutthroat willing to eat a well placed dry fly.
Rock Creek is a tributary to the Upper Clarkfork east of Missoula. The Upper Clarkfork had the highest snowpack this past winter, which means great water conditions again this summer/fall. Last year the Creek was high all summer/fall (in a good way) and that trend has continued all spring. We predict great fishing on this beloved tributary. We should start seeing Salmonflies in the next few weeks!
Again these are just predictions. Lot’s of things could happen to change the outlook. We could have a really hot end of May and beginning of June to get rid of the snowpack too fast. We could have a super hot July that makes for really tough fishing conditions. We could get no rain from now until September, which isn’t good. These are all just maybe’s. It’s kind of like everything else in life really. You just never know… As of now, things are looking on the up and we are optimistic about a great season of fly fishing in Missoula.