2012 Season Report, 2013 Outlook
I have tried to get in touch with many of my regular clients over the holidays, but I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of the folks who fished with me or my guide staff in 2012.
After a record snowpack and high flows on the Yellowstone until August in 2011, we saw a complete turnaround in water conditions last season. Our snowpack was almost normal last year, but we ended up with very warm temperatures all summer and very little rainfall. This made flows on the Yellowstone and other freestone streams lower and warmer than normal for most of the season. We also ended up with fewer grasshoppers, which made for spotty dry fly fishing on the Yellowstone. It pained me to see some first time visitors to the Yellowstone suffer through some tough fishing days in August and September, but as any local guide will tell you, "The Yellowstone can be a cruel mistress."
Since I spend so much time guiding on the Paradise Valley spring creeks, I'm glad to report that the summer hatches on these streams were a little better than average, and fishing was consistent all season. We had a few tough days in early September when hatches were sparse, but overall, the spring creek fishing was very good all year.
As I write this in January, I'm hesitant to make any predictions about 2013--especially after the variation in conditions the last couple of seasons. We haven't seen much snow in town for a while, but the current snowpack data for the higher elevations in the Park shows the Yellowstone drainage at about 98% of normal. It would be nice to have a more "normal" runoff and moderate summer flows, but it's a long time between now and the start of runoff....
I would encourage clients to think about planning a spring (pre-runoff) trip to Montana--between mid-March and early May. This is one of my favorite times of year to fish, and it is still a time in the season when crowds and fishing pressure is minimal. Weather is less predictable in the spring months, but the fishing can be excellent. Local fisheries like the Yellowstone and the spring creeks are good options, and I had several great days of dry fly fishing on the Bighorn last season--fish numbers were phenomenal and although I don't get over there often, I saw good hatches from March through September. If the Bighorn has fallen off your radar in recent years, it might be time to give it another try.
More classes and clinics
One of my New Year's resolutions is to try to work more classes and clinics into my guiding schedule. As my regular clients know, I love the teaching aspect of guiding and I am planning more classes, clinics and seminars in coming seasons. Keep an eye on the website and your e-mail inbox for information as I get these programs scheduled. Anyone interested in private instruction--for individuals or small groups--please call or e-mail.