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The 2008 season in the Rocky Mountain West may be one of the best in some time, according to correspondent Bill Cenis, who filed a snowpack report for us in the April issue. Here’s the latest as of mid-May:
In the April issue of The Angling Report, I reported that snowpack and water content in the mountains that feed western rivers was the best it has been in the past seven or eight years. The hope at that time was that wet and cool weather conditions would continue through May, thus setting up what could be a banner fishing year. I’m pleased to report ideal conditions have prevailed so far.
Through mid-May, even more snow blanketed a majority of the Rockies, and an ample amount of rain fell in the valleys. Nighttime temperatures in the mountains and valleys have hung around the freezing mark, and daytime temps, for the most part, have remained cool. Thus, runoff has been gradual. Enough moisture remains in the mountains to keep streams at desirable levels heading into the summer months. May snow water equivalent measurements in the Rockies, as this is written, remain at, or even well above, the 30-year average. We haven’t seen conditions like that in eight years.
Runoff did start on some rivers in early May, turning low, clear, normal-flowing waters into off-color torrents, well suited for whitewater rafting and kayaking but near impossible for angling. Runoff, in a normal year (before the drought years took hold), peaks around the second week of June. Under those normal conditions, rivers subside and clear by the beginning of July, and stream fishing begins in earnest. This year, the stage is set for just this kind of scenario, especially west of the Continental Divide.
If a gradual, rather than sudden, warming of temperatures continues into June, Rocky Mountain rivers and streams will experience a normal and plentiful runoff supplying those waters and reservoirs with volumes at levels that will carry them through the summer. July, August and perhaps even September fishing conditions may well turn out to be excellent.
Of course, we all know that Mother Nature of late has tended to play dirty tricks on us. If temperatures suddenly bolt upward and remain in the 80s or higher, the wonderful water content we have in the mountains will come rampaging into the river valleys, ‘flooding’ being the operative word here. Water experts warn us there is enough snowpack remaining in the mountains to cause this, and that there will be some flooding in early June. So keep your eyes on western weather reports and stay in contact with angling shops and guide services in the region you may be considering visiting. A good web site to track water content conditions for all western states.