Monday, December 19, 2011

Stonefly country

I live in stonefly country. It's part of what makes Montana, Montana. The Big Hole, Blackfoot, Madison, Gallatin, Yellowstone - they're epitomes of stonefly water. In the book "Stoneflies" by Arbona, Swisher and Richards, they mention how barely across the border in Idaho, the Henry's Fork is more mayfly/caddis water than stonefly water, but on the upper Madison, there are dozens upon dozens of species of stonefly - many more than the well known (or even known at all) hatches  - makes ya want to try something other than the standard rubberlegs, eh?
Anyhow, Glacier National Park is as much stonefly water as is the aforementioned country. But it might become less so - the rare zapada or glacier stonefly is looking doomed.
Not a zapada; rather, a skwala.
 From the Xerces Sociey (for invertebrate conservation? Really? AWESOME.):

"The western glacier stonefly (Zapada glacier) is a glacier meltwater-dependent stonefly known solely from a small area of Glacier National Park in Glacier County, Montana. Immature stoneflies, including the western glacier stonefly, have very narrow temperature requirements, making them especially vulnerable to extinction from increases in ambient water temperature. This narrowly endemic species is threatened by increases in water temperature and decreases in dissolved oxygen as a result of human-induced climate change in this region, specifically the loss of the glacial habitat on which this species depends. The glaciers within Glacier National Park are predicted to disappear by 2030. Loss of the glaciers, in combination with the species’ limited range, limited dispersal ability, and the inherent instability of small populations, collectively threaten this rare species with extinction."

 Definitely adding that to my "to-fish" list so I can tell my grandchildren that I caught a "cutthroat trout" in a "zapada" hatch. I can see their blank stares already.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ruminations on steelheading in Montana

As I plan a trip to the Olympic Peninsula this February (my first foray into sea-runners), my thoughts end up on the fish. Which got me thinking - what exactly is a steelhead?  
Merriam-Webster defines a steelhead as: "an anadromous rainbow trout ". Merriam-Webster defines anadromous as: "ascending rivers from the sea for breeding". Merriam-Webster defines sea as: "a great body of salt water that covers much of the earth" (among other definitions).
Montana steelhead
But the Great Lakes' tribuaries have steelhead, and the Great Lakes are not seas by that definition. And frankly some of Lake Superior's "steelhead" pale in comparison to some lake-run rainbows of the Rockies. So why can't we call our lake-run rainbows steelhead? Why do they, if they're not technically "sea-run" (they're "big-lake-run"). Where do you draw the line?
I propose we call our big-lake-run, bigger-than-some-of-the-great-lakes'-steelhead rainbow trout "steelhead" as well.
And without a dime of taxpayers' money, Montana could boast some delightful "new" fishing opportunities.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Let the winter nymphing....begin

Good start to the winter nymphing season yesterday. I should've had some firebeads, and the pink wasn't cooperating with me, but I stuck a few. Brady got a bunch. Here's to many fruitful winter days.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter activity that sucks #34: Rod building

A few years ago when I worked at Simms, they offered a rod-building class. Since the fly-tying class they offered was so good, I thought the rod-building would be too. Nope.

Fly tying offers the opportunity to use your experience and knowledge from time on the water to craft a tool that affects your fishing success. Rod building offers a chance for arts and crafts - my mom (the quilter) might like it. The rod, assuming it's fundamentally sound, has virtually no impact on the fishing. If a wrap ain't quite perfect, even spring-creek trout don't care. The colors you choose are for aesthetics only. It's a little cheaper, but it's not enjoyable like fly tying.
Since I've broken the Scott 3-wt I built at that class twice, I've been able to keep after this horrid hobby. Today, being 14F at 1:45pm, I finished the mid-tip section. It has character, and it will fish fine. It's certainly an original rod. I hope it stays in four pieces for the duration.

Next winter activity that sucks: Learning to tie the Humpy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Craneflies

I saw a fly made with this stuff called UV Chewee Skin that struck me as a great cranefly imitation. I don't have any Chewee skin, so I made one with what I had.
There are two places that I really want to try this - two opposite fisheries. One, a smallish tailwater that is known for it's craneflies - the Beaverhead; the other, a rocky freestone at which I can't quite figure out why there are so many craneflies - the Gallatin in the valley. No matter, I am itching to wet this fly.
Craneflies are a lot like giant midges - they go through complete metamorphosis (larva, pupa, adult like caddis) - as opposed to incomplete metamorphosis (nymph, adult like mayflies and stoneflies). The larva looks like a grub or wax worm, don't know about the pupa, and the adult like a midge-daddy-long-legs hybrid.
I've never fished a cranefly dry, but I had a day this summer where skittered hoppers were working so well that I wondered if the trout were keyed on craneflies - I'd seen a few that day. I gather that fishing cranefly dries is quite the wing-ding - I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The other Firehole

Yellowstone National Park's Gardner River does not have the reputation nor the number of springs (or anglers) of the Firehole River, but it, like the Firehole, is influenced by the warmth of the park's thermal features, keeping fishing excellent clear up to closing day (last Sunday).
One of the thermal inflows - the Boiling River - is the park's largest constant output of thermal discharge. People soak in the Boiling River where it meets the Gardner throughout the winter. Downstream of the Boiling River, the Gardner remains warmer than most YNP streams year round. It makes an especially big difference to anglers at the beginning and end of the park's fishing season, when temps tend to be a bit cold for great fishing elsewhere. Mayflies will hatch from May to November, which makes it a unique experience, not unlike the famous Firehole.

On Sunday (closing day), we fished it to an excellent baetis hatch and hot fish (instead of the usual Firehole-on-closing-day event). Even cutthroats were aggressive on streamers.

And with sundown on Sunday, the curtains drew nigh on another fishing season in Yellowstone. Here's to a mild but snowy winter and healthy fish next May.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Etiquette schmetiquette

These boaters can park and fish where ever they damn well please, no matter whose face their backcasts are almost hooking.

Poor etiquette is almost (but not) expected as some locations that get hammered, even with all of Montana's water, but this is a bit much. We happened to be fishing near the president of the Henry's Lake Foundation who fishes this stretch often (the Madison River in between Hebgen and Quake lakes), and he said he's never seen manners quite this bad. Myself and Ben, the prez, and the boat were the only folks around, but they needed to fish there.
We had fished that stretch for a couple hours and were about on our way out anyhow, but the boaters didn't know that. Maybe we should have started a knife fight (as apparently happens at some Eastern fisheries that get unbelievably pounded), and maybe we should have at least spoken up, but if they don't already understand common everyday manners about personal space, I don't know that we'd have helped.
Henry's Lake guy was sure it was a guided trip, but I cannot be sure as we didn't see any tags. We do know they were from Idaho.
Ultimately, I am glad I am able to fish in a place where breaches of etiquette rarely exist, but that doesn't excuse them when they do.
These hillbillies will get their comeuppance in due time if they keep it up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Incident at Milesnick's could reignite debate

I heard this morning that an angler on the MZ- Ranch - better known as Milesnick's - was recently electrocuted when his fly rod touched a power line. It is a horrible, unfortunate incident about which details are sketchy, but Tom Milesnick confirmed to me via e-mail that there is a lawsuit pending from the angler or his family, and that he could not comment further.

He also confirmed that access to fishing and hunting on all of their properties has been suspended pending the outcome of the lawsuit. If the outcome favors the unfortunate angler, they may never allow access again.
Thompson Spring Creek, just above its mouth.

The Milesnicks allow access to two spring creeks on their property north of Belgrade, Montana for a fee, and have a sign-in system that allows anglers free access to their property on the East Gallatin River.

They have a longstanding record of cooperation and allowing access to anglers. They are model landowners from sportsmen's perspective, which is why burning the bridge to them would set a scary precedent for the other pay fisheries including Armstrong's, Depuy, and Nelson's spring creeks in Paradise Valley and other creeks and lakes on private property statewide. Moreover, it sets us up for another stream-access battle.


The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks brochure on stream access does say: “the Legislature has limited the situations in which a landowner may be liable for injuries to people using a stream flowing through his property...The law states that landowners and others covered by the restriction on liability are liable only for acts or omissions that constitute ‘willful or wanton misconduct’.” So to rule against that (which would be the cast if the angler wins), would be a ruling that directly contradicts the stream access law. Once that seal is broken, the rest of our beloved law could be up for grabs.

Let me be clear, however, that many details about the incident and litigation are not known at this time.

In my opinion, anglers need to take responsibility for themselves, and if and when an accident occurs, they shouldn't seek reparations from those who allowed them to be there (not that it's anything new or unique to Montana or fishing). It's a tragedy and I feel for the angler and his family, but responsibility should not be spread where it does not belong, especially when so much is potentially at stake.

UPDATE: As of 2014, the land is no longer open to access the creeks via a rod fee. Apparently, so the goes the story I've heard, the property is under the management of different family members who are not interested in this aspect of the business. The creeks should still be open to fishing, as they still fall under Montana's stream-access law. Access, however, must be gained legally which can be difficult here (thus, the advantage of paying the rod fee - you could hike across their property to the creeks).


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Darlington, the threequell: Darlinton

If you're just tuning in now, refer to Part 1 and Part 2 ...Now that we're all up to speed....
Part 3:
As part of an assignment for the Fly Fish Journal regarding the encounter and it's relevance in the recent stream-access/ditch debate in Montana, I paid a visit to the Rice Ranch to apologize, to discuss the issue with two (hopefully) rational parties, and to inform them what I'd learned since the argument I was given was not exactly accurate. Unfortunately (maybe), the gate was closed and padlocked, and no one appeared to be around.

I therefore mailed a letter since all I really knew about them was the address, and waited to hear back. My deadline came and went without a response, so we moved forward without their response. But in late August, I did get a very nice e-mail from a member of the Rice family, which showed that the Rices are just another gregarious Montana ranch family trying to coexist with a broadly worded stream access law and a popular sport.

Her response:
Joshua,

Many thanks for your recent letter and interest in the legalities of fishing in and around Cobblestone.  I am very appreciative, not only of your inquiry but also your follow up.  As you can imagine, it is hard live next door to a public fishing access…a constant balance between the public and the private.

I don’t know who you talked to on the Rice Ranch but your suggestion about posting further information is a good one.

Unfortunately, the verbage for that body of water has gotten hopelessly confused and mislabeled…even Darlinton, the actual spelling of my family name is incorrect on the documentation and signage.

My husband and I will be in residence at the ranch soon after Memorial Day.  Next time you are out there to fish, please stop by to say hello so we can continue the conversation.

Best wishes,
(name kept private)
I have not followed up with her yet, and frankly don't know that I will. From my perspective, the issue has been resolved. That said, it would probably be a lovely experience meeting such a warm-sounding person, and I'd probably be better off for it.
All in all, this has been a positive experience. I have learned about the intricacies of the Montana stream access law, met knew people, sparked an interesting discussion and got published nationally in one of the best fly-fishing publications going (you can read the piece in the current FFJ - 3.1). But at least for a while, I might stick to less questionable fisheries. Maybe.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Loose-lipped LTL drivers

Whoa. I just got an education in some local water from our Reddaway driver, who has lived in the Gallatin Valley for his whole life. Note to self - don't mention names when talking fishing with delivery drivers. Three or four lakes in the Tobacco Roots, some tributaries to the Gallatin to hit in the fall, a hard-to-get-to lake in the Crazy Mountains with what his hands were claiming were 25-inchers, but his mouth called 16- to 18-inchers... I listened with wide ears, like a dog who thought he heard someone say "treat".
I have no plans to go immediately exploit any of these fisheries, but I will add them to my list of rainy-day spots. Heck they might all be busts, as I'm not sure exactly how "fishy" this guy was. But he was excited about them, and they'd be adventures regardless.
The lesson: Keep your ears to the ground - you never know when you'll hear something worth hearing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sometimes, push.

Last year, I made it as far as "the big tree". I asked how close I was to the first canyon.
"About half way."
I declared that I would never make it to the canyon.
For overweight guys, some fishing locales feel like pipe dreams. But sometimes, if you wanna fish, you gotta push. Today, I pushed to the canyon.
I probably wouldn't have strained, but this is a special stream. You won't get me to name it, and not just because I'd lose friends. It's small, it's close to a population center (relatively speaking - it's Montana), and it's good. Over about 4.5 hours today, I landed 34 trout (yeah I counted) - browns, rainbows, brooks, and one cutthroat. Two of them probably stretched to about 17 inches, and most were a little overweight themselves. Some days, the fish here average about 15 inches.  
Unbelievably, it's only about 2.75 miles one-way by my calculations. And it's easy for the most part. My more-fit friends go up as far as 6 or 7 miles through untold canyons and meadows, and claim it only gets better.
Now that I know I can make it to the first canyon and back without collapsing into a pile of scrap-human, I intend to plan a full day to discover what lies beyond. Next hopper season.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A few bonus miles

 Locals know the East Gallatin River - a productive, fussy brook north of Bozeman and Belgrade.
It seems that the concensus is that the East headwaters where Rocky Creek meets Bridger Creek. I would like to argue otherwise, to ultimately open up a few more miles of this river in the winter (when the East remains open, but Rocky Creek is closed).

The BLM and USGS maps clearly mark it as the East Gallatin up to the confluence of Kelly Creek and Rocky Creek. Moreover, if you search Kelly Creek on Montana Fish WIldlife and Parks' website, it is listed as a tributary to the East Gallatin River. These two things give you enough of an argument to fish up to Kelly Creek year round, even if the residents of Rocky Creek Road (downstream of the confluence of Rocky and Kelly on the EAST GALLATIN) tell you otherwise.
Enjoy, and leave some for me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

North of south

Somewhere north of Wyoming and south of Canada sits this. It's an adventure, and quite a destination. Not another angler for miles. The catching left something to be desired, but the trip did not. Anybody got a guess as to what creek it is?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

'Tis better to fish alone...

...than wish you were. I have fished with no one but my dog for the past three weeks, and I can't complain.
You get first shot at the water, you choose where to go and when you want to leave, and your day won't be ruined by being out-fished (common occurrence around here).
Fishing buddies are good to have and important, but not just anyone with a fly rod will do. Most of us who fish hard are somewhat selective regarding with whom we will fish. I have an outstanding group of fishing buddies, but when they're busy - that's cool too.
One problem, however, is that you usually don't get the photos you'd like (see below). It's often the fish-on-the rocks-compared-to-the-net or -rod, or just the fish's head, or the fish in your hand as it droops away from the camera.

Incidentally, today I found a nice little spot where hoppers are working like gangbusters, far from the unending pelotons of the major rivers. I've never skittered so much - they would slash at it, then slash again. Then, they'd swipe at it, then slash at it another time or two. Eventually, you'd hook a fish. Makes me wonder if they were keyed on craneflies - I noticed a couple big ones.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Little People

Crow Indian legend tells of foot-and-a-half tall dwarfs with pot bellies and no necks, that are incredibly strong with razor-sharp teeth called Nirumbee or AwwakkulĂ© (little people or spirit dwarves). They supposedly steal children, rip hearts out of horses, and shoot arrows with pinpoint precision, among other terrifying pastimes. They are also said to bless certain people, manifesting as lone animals to issue their benediction. These monsters are said to live in Montana's Pryor Mountains. Now ya tell me. 

There is actual physical evidence of these Western desert goblins - several mummified corpses have been found over the years (about which scientists disagree) and there have been modern sightings by respected locals. Seriously.
This maybe explains the uneasy feeling I had Saturday atop the Pryor Mountains and my urge to flee before I rupture a tire and get marooned in the barren desert of sage and juniper. But as I sat there, eating a ham sandwich and drinking a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale weighing my options, something appeared in the gully below me. It was a wild mustang - one of the horses from the Pryor Mountain wild horse herd.
 Quickly, three more popped out from behind a juniper bush, as if they were cavalry to defend the lone horse when I loudly cleared my throat to elicit a response for a photo.


I've never gotten particularly excited about horses, but there's something about the free spirits of these beasts that captivates me. I admire their lifestyle. They live oblivious to anything modern, on their own schedule answering only to themselves. No fences, no saddles, no shoes, no hay. It's a beautiful idea and I'm glad it still exists (not sure why other wildlife doesn't elicit this reaction in me - something about the spirit of these horses).


All the horses have been named. Here, I've been informed, is Jumping Badger (far left), Sitting Bull (brown horse on top, a stallion - possibly the sire of JB and Inniq, far right - I'm not sure), Cecelia (black in front - dam of JB and ...) and Inniq, (3-year-old black colt, far right).

The Pryor Mountains are remote - the Centennial Valley has nothing on the Pryors. Which makes the absolutely awful "road" through the range (Sykes Ridge Road) all the more harrowing. It's really more of a custom-Jeep or 4-wheeler trail.

Click to enlarge for full effect.
Close-up of the road. Not suitable for sedans.

Click to enlarge. Even the roads en route to the wild horse range are remote. Also, beautiful.
I avoided the spirit dwarfs, but I cannot say the same for the prairie rattlesnakes. Ten minutes prior to this photo, my dog and I hiked right through the trail where we found this guy. Maybe I received a blessing after all.
Dear snake, thanks for the warning and the photo op. Sincerely, Josh.
I returned to the norm this morning, fishing West Rosebud Creek and the Stillwater River on my way home. Nice to be fishing again, but I'll remember the mystique of the Pryors.

Links of note:
A PBS documentary on the wild horses
Another excellent PBS documentary
Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center
Little People wikipedia
More on the Little People
Like them on Facebook

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Working up a sweat

Attractor dry-fly season has arrived at central Montana's forgotten trout water. Even the whitefish wanted in - I've never seen so many rising whities. Only a Stimmie and a Humpy were used. 



Game notes: Bergan broke his second rod in two weeks on Saturday - this time his dainty 3 weight at the hands of his dog. He will call upon his 4 weight to take its place in the rotation until a new mid-tip section can be ordered and wrapped....The bank sign said 99 degrees on Saturday afternoon....With the three 15-inch brook trout landed this morning, Bergan has caught his biggest cutthroat, rainbow, brown and brook trouts of his life in 2011 - congratulations to him...He was finally able to land a fish using Sweetheart, which was added to the lineup last weekend when Bergan's 8 weight switch rod snapped.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blind squirrel

A blind squirrel with his acorn.

Twenty-eight inches and 8 pounds. Just kidding - about 21 and FAT.

In droves

We've had a lot of friends out to visit Montana/Yellowstone so far this year. Just don't blog about that which you should not ;), and leave some for me.

Sanders, from Up the Poudre,

55 on the Fly

Nate from New Heathens

Mike from North Carolina

The Tailout

Owl Jones

The Trout Zone

Josh from Bigerrfish

Floatfisher on the Smith

The Jersey Angler

The Unaccomplished Angler

Monday, July 18, 2011

Indecision Montana

“Killed on salmon dries lyons to pal yesterday,” said the text message that beeped at 11:49 on Wednesday morning, kicking off another round of agonizing decisions about where to fish this weekend. Make no mistake - this is serious soul searching. Anglers must look deep within themselves to sort out simple desires from absolute biological necessities.You could leave wondering if it might've been better elsewhere, and that can haunt you (for a week or so). Join me on last week's decisions...

One buddy wanted to float the Jefferson, but instead decided to scout a potential gem around Missoula. It's his boat, so the Jeff is out, and would be tough anyhow (not that that's ever stopped anyone before).

Raynolds and $3 on the upper Madison are out as I don't like to fish the same place consecutively even though I received glowing reports from buddies: Ben at the Chronicle; Will with Montana Sporting Journal.

The Gallatin is coming back into shape, but still not great. And tough wading.

The Missouri is always an option, but will be busy, and apparently hasn't been great lately.

The Big Hole is there, but is still pretty huge, so it's tough without a boat.

The Blackfoot sounds good to me – back in shape, big, green, fishing well. Salmonflies are late here as everywhere else, so there's definitely a shot.

The full spectrum of drakes are on the Bitterroot.

The Yellowstone is still blown out - that helps.

A certain Smith River tributary was mentioned, as was a certain Big Hole trib, a certain Blackfoot trib, and few certain other tributaries. But all require a long drive and a hike - not sure that'll work this weekend.

And I still haven't set foot in the park yet this year.

Woe is me. How does one winnow out the best from the rest? Fly fishing isn't supposed to impose these burdens.

I ended up at a couple townie streams on Friday, the Beaverhead on Saturday, and the East Gallatin on Sunday. I didn't shower all weekend so I smell like whitefish turd (but I saved on sunscreen).

Too many people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood...


There are now only 10 weeks left of summer and thousands of miles of water to be fished. So it begins again...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

There's always somewhere,,,

There's always somewhere to fish, right? I wondered this morning when both of my go-to lakes where gated off, presumably due to snow on the road. In July.
So I drove up a ways on the Flying D Ranch to check out Spanish Creek. It looked good, tannin, fast, bank-full. Since it would've be tough to stay in the water, and this is one place you definitely want to stay within the rules, I decided it was a no-go.
There was one more place I could try - a short, unnamed, spring creek. It was gin clear. I tracked down some fish near its mouth, but they were extremely spooky and they didn't give me much consideration. But I fished.
Chocolate milk and gin. Click for larger image.
So until I find otherwise, there's always somewhere to fish in southwest Montana.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Decorah, 52101

I never had the opportunity to fly fish with my dad, but being that I found an old St. Croix fiberglass rod in the basement, I have to believe he put it to work around his home town of Decorah, Iowa. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to fish some of Decorah's spring creeks, and in doing so, reconnect with my father - if only in spirit - over a stream, some P-tails, and a few cookie-cutter stockers.
North Bear Creek
A good chunk of my family on both sides has connections to Decorah. My dad grew up there, he met my mother there, my aunt and uncle have an apartment there, my recently passed-on great aunt lived there, and I have many other roots and branches amongst the bluffs and hills.
Uncle Vince hooked up on a Decorah trout. He showed me around the area.
It's within an area in the Midwest called the driftless area - a region that was spared by the most recent glaciers, thus leaving beautiful limestone, rattlesnakes, and spring creeks full of (mostly stocked) trout.
About the biggest trout I caught, but it matters not.
Decorah is a far cry from the trout towns of Montana like Livingston, Ennis, or Twin Bridges. Fishing licenses are bought at the hardware store, flies are hard to come by, and guides are few and far between. But it's got its share of elbow room and trout, and they are no less fun to whack there than here. Beyond the fishing, Decorah is hip college town with lots of Nordic charm.
Upstream of the first photo - sexy.
Visiting Decorah offers me a terrific opportunity for me to reconnect with my family - both living and otherwise - by wetting a line that drifts through my patrimony.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Edges

Runoff? More like fun-off. Apparently, you just have to know where to go. My buddy Ben, his lady friend Christine and I hammered trout on a beautiful June day in running water.
Ben playing one of about 30 trout he pulled from that hole. No jive.
Foxee Red.
Just pound the soft water. I even caught my first chub on a fly, and Ben randomly caught a grayling. Zonkers, Clousers, worms, Hare's Ears, Princes, and P-tails.
There were about 32 other fishermen - including two other fly anglers - and many stringers of big fish. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day in West Yellowstone

Some fellow fishermen pay their dues this morning.
I joined some friends to camp on Hebgen Lake last evening and woke to snow dumping on my camper. Didn't think too much of it - this happens at 6,667 feet. Fished Hebgen for a bit this morning (still not much for midge activity, and only a few risers - I caught nothing), and as the snow piled up, I decided I better get going down the gravel road while I still could. By the time I got to Big Sky (about half way home), I had driven through snow and slush the entire time. Glad I left when I did, because I got home to read this:
"A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR ELEVATIONS ABOVE 5500 FEET REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT MDT MONDAY NIGHT.
* TIMING AND MAIN IMPACT: SNOW... HEAVY AT TIMES... WILL CONTINUE IN THE MOUNTAINS THROUGH MONDAY AFTERNOON. SNOWFALL RATES OF 1 TO 2 INCHES PER HOUR WILL BE POSSIBLE AT TIMES TONIGHT AND INTO EARLY MONDAY MORNING.
* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: TIME OF DAY AND SNOWFALL RATE WILL PLAY A LARGE ROLE IN SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS IN THIS LATE SEASON STORM. HOWEVER THE POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR 10 TO 15 INCHES OF NEW SNOW BY MONDAY EVENING FOR ELEVATIONS ABOVE 5500 FEET."

That said 10 to 15 inches! West Yellowstone had a good start, with about an inch by the time I left. Camping in snow is quickly becoming my Memorial Day traditional.
Runoff is really going to be an event this year. The Madison drainage is currently at 186 percent of average, and this storm might add a lot. And 186 percent is not nearly the highest snowpack for Montana right now. The Jefferson drainage is at 189, Missouri Headwaters is at 201 percent, the Gallatin drainage is at 215, the Sun, Teton and Marias basin is at 255, the Missouri Mainstem is at 290, and the Judith, Musselshell and Smith basin is at 321 percent of average for today. (see link here)
We're already seeing record flows - and not mere records, but flows many times the record over decades of gauging. And currently, we're adding more snowpack than we're melting. Few rivers will be the same after the deluge, and few fish will be skinny. 



Some additional photos of the weekend: