Blog Posts In big hole river flood

High Water and High Hopes

The Big Hole:
 Our season at Big Hole Lodge begins Thursday, and as you may have heard in the news we have a lot of water.  The Big Hole has been running high all week, and has been fishing marginally on big nymphs and streamers.  Last Saturday the river was out of it's banks in many places and the water was off color.

 The weather forecast for the rest of the week calls for slight chances of rain, cool day temps, and cold night temps.  We expect the Big Hole to drop and clear over the next few days.  If this happens, the fabled salmon fly hatch will come off this weekend, or early next week.  This largest member of the stone fly family lives as a nymph for three years before crawling to the banks and into the willows to hatch.  In its adult form, the salmon fly resembles the Red Baron's plane as it flies around the river with its dual wing system, and it is quite a meal for these hungry trout.

 The drought years of the 2000's all but killed the stone fly hatches.  However, the Big Hole has enjoyed three years of healthy water flows and this years crop of bugs ought to resemble the standard of the 80's and 90's.  The fish are healthy and hungry so we all need to hope for cool temperatures and clear water.

The Beaverhead:

The Beaverhead also suffered through the drought years, especially in the winters when flows out of the dam were cut back substantially.  For the past three years, the powers that be have maintained a healthy flow of 200cfs throughout the winter and the fish have shown a lot of improvement.  Currently, the river is running at a mandated 240 cfs even though the reservoir is approaching capacity.  This is because the Missouri is nearing critical flood level and the Corps of Engineers has asked that the Beaverhead be cut back.  This is great news for early summer fishing.  240 cfs is a late July flow, and though the Grasshopper Cr. is dumping in a lot of water and mud, dirtying the river and ruining the fishing, the upper river is in great shape and has been fishing very well.

My father, a long time BHL guide Allen, and I threw the boat in for a few hours on a quick scouting trip to see what the river looked like before we start on Thursday.  Unfortunately, for the first time this week there was not a cloud in the sky and the fish were not looking up.  We did however, catch fish on nymphs when streamers did not produce.  We boated eight fish in our quick 4 hour float, but I am eager to get back out to work the pools we passed up.  The reports from Dillon indicate that the big browns of the 90's are back and the flows will be kept at this level until the runoff is over.

The Wise River:

The Wise is currently a kayaker's paradise....(In fact, when I took these pictures today a kayaker was on his way to the river to throw his boat in)  It is running very high and fast and dumping a lot of water into the Big Hole.  Fishing on the BH is much better above the confluence with the Wise than it is below.

The lodge's home pool, normally wadeable by this time of year:


The bottom line is, Montana finally had the snow year it needed this past winter.  According to the old timers, high water like this used to be the norm and if we continue to have years like this, the entire ecosystem will greatly benefit.  We may have to change our game plan a bit to get into fish over the next few weeks if the weather warms up quickly, but we will get into fish.  And if it stays cool and the snow comes out slowly, fishing will be phenomenal.

Bring On the Sunshine!

Big Hole River Fishing Report: 6/3/11 Weekend Outlook

  • Water Flow: 4,750 cfs
  • Water Temp: 46 degrees
  • Visibility: 10-12 inches
  • Fishing: good with streamers
  • Weather: snow today, sunny and 70's through the weekend

The new rain has brought the water level up, but fishing has still been good underneath. Early yesterday morning we had high winds, a furious hail storm, and then heavy rain on the upper Big Hole.  The rain showers continued through the day and into last night.  This morning it is snowing at the lodge!   The weather forecast is calling for sunny skies and temps in the 70's through Monday...bring it on!  The warm weather will definitely bring snow down and the river will most likely rise significantly by the beginning of next week.

The sunshine ought to bring on the caddis hatch and top water fishing could be very good this weekend.  Streamers have been working well in this nasty weather and should continue to do so in the mornings before you tie on a dry.  Good luck!

Happy Birthday to our chef, Lanette!  She is over in West Yellowstone celebrating with our trusty guide, Chuck Ravetta.  They plan to get out on the Madison today to bring in her new year.  Enjoy your next trip around the sun, Netter!

Boaters urged to avoid floating over the dam

Boaters urged to avoid part of Big Hole River near Divide

Posted: May 26, 2011 3:13 PM by KXLF Media Center
Boaters are being urged not to float the Big Hole River around the newly reconstructed diversion dam about 2 ½ miles west of Divide due to the hazards created by high, fast water.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks issued a statement Thursday urging boaters to stay away from the dam.

FWP staff is posting signs at Jerry Creek, George Grant and Powerhouse fishing access sites and on Silver Bridge, alerting floaters to the diversion dam and warning them to take out at Powerhouse Fishing Access Site about one mile upstream of the diversion dam on river left.

If boaters find themselves beyond the point where they can take out, they should float through the diversion dam in the center, according to FWP.

Big Hole River Water Flow at Melrose: 7,800 cfs

snow way!

Big Hole River Fishing report 5/26/11

The rain poured last night after 2 a.m., turning to heavy snow by this morning.  The trees above 7,ooo feet were coated in white, but the big flakes in my yard lasted only a few minutes.
The old timers say, "when the snow on that thar face comes down, high water is here."  Well the snow on that thar face (pictured below) is far from gone.  In fact, just last week a two foot deep wet-slide avalanche cut it's way down the central slope and didn't reach the rock bed below.  There is a lot of snow left in the high country and this runoff could be furious over the next couple of weeks.
The Wise River in the below pictured section is marked by giant boulders, up to four feet above the river surface.  Today they are all but under water.
The Big Hole hasn't spiked from last night's storm yet, but this wave of mountain water is on its way down the valley.
Flood warnings are in effect today and tomorrow around the state and the Big Hole at Melrose has reached it's flood stage today.  However,  the cold weather forecast for the weekend means that the runoff will again be halted.  The Big Hole will most likely drop and clear by the weekend and streamer fishing could be very good like it was a week ago.

T.G.I.F. Big Hole River is clearing up

Friday Fishing Outlook: Big Hole River

  • Water Flow: 3,630 cfs
  • Water Temp: 49 degrees
  • Visibility: 18 inches
  • Weather: high 50's and chance of showers through the weekend
  • Fishing: Good
  • Flies:  streamers, march browns, caddis, stone fly nymphs

The Big Hole has been dropping steadily for the past three days and clearing as it falls.  The clouds and cool temps throughout the weekend will keep the river clear and fishing should be great.