Dealing with Runoff in SW Montana

Huge Cutthroat

When the snowpack starts to melt, rivers run high and muddy, but the many lakes and ponds of southwestern Montana can provide plenty of action and huge fish.

photo by Toby Swank

The reality of the spring melt is finally upon us here in southwestern Montana. We’ve got a lot of snow to get rid of in the high country this year, and everyone around here is ready for the sun after a long Montana winter. It’s hard to say how things will shake out over the next few weeks, but right now we’re definitely surrounded by muddy waters with just a few exceptions.

During the peak of runoff, anglers should focus their attention on regional tailwaters, spring creeks, and area lakes. The rivers and creeks are well known and highly regarded around the world, but this is a great time of year to get off the beaten path and stalk the edges of myriad still waters that dot the landscape of southwestern Montana.

Warming water conditions and Chironomid hatches can make for some very exciting fishing when everything else seems too high or dirty to fish. Even the most ardent river anglers find themselves looking fondly at lakes in Montana this time of year. Big fish will do that to you!


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