Blog Posts In snowpack

Montana Had a Great Winter, Who Didn't?

Montana Had a Great Winter, Who Didn't?

Areas of the US Old Man Winter neglected this year

2014 Preview: Your Own Room, Fresh Faces and a Fresh Look!

ImageWith another snowstorm bearing down on Southwest Montana, I thought it would bolster my mental fortitude to write about fly fishing.  I’ve been tying steelhead patterns to use on the Salmon River next month for the early spring run. This has helped abate the extreme cabin fever all of us in the Big Hole Valley seem to contract about this time each winter, although this winter has been different than most. I think that could be an understatement for just about anywhere in the country, but I make the motion with great enthusiasm that its time to start thinking about big brown trout and beautiful rivers like the Big Hole, Beaverhead and Bitterroot.

“I still don’t know why I fish or why other men fish, except that we like it and it makes us think and feel.”
Roderick L. Haig-Brown
A River Never Sleeps (1946)

Tight Lines,
Craig Fellin

ImageSPRING FISHING
Our season starts with an early pre-runoff 4 night/3 day fly fishing package (see rates) from April 29-May 2nd. The water level on the Big Hole is usually ideal at this time and the trout are hungry after a long, cold winter. Expect to fish nymphs and streamers in the morning and skwala stonefly and blue winged olive dry fly patterns in the afternoon. Very few people are on the river at this time and the trout haven’t seen many flies yet. This is also a great time to be on the Missouri River, which is well known for its prolific blue winged olive hatches in April and May and superb dry fly fishing.

SPEY CASTING CLINIC
Big Hole Lodge will be hosting its 2nd annual Spey Casting Clinic with Larry Aiuppy on May 3-7. Larry is the only certified spey casting instructor in Montana and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the event. For me the spey cast is like watching a well-balanced and well-timed golf swing or even a ballet as some would compare. Granted the cast is meant for large salmon/steelhead rivers but there are also trout applications with the shorter spey or switch rods, fishing streamers or soft hackles in the surface film. This is a 4 night/3 day package for $2,630 per person based on double occupancy and guaranteed to jump-start your fly fishing season.

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YOUR OWN ROOM AND CELL SERVICE
We have changed our total capacity at the lodge from twelve down to eight guests. We still plan on accommodating larger intact groups of 10-12 by special request, but the norm will be eight guests per week. There are several reasons why we made the change, but primarily it will allow each guest to have their own bedroom.  We heard so many tales of guests not being able to sleep because their roommate kept them awake at night, so now your worries are over and you’ll be able to sleep to your heart’s content. We also feel that we can give more attention to the individual at our lodge with the lower capacity and be able to deliver a quality experience that exceeds all expectations. Your satisfaction has always been our utmost concern and now we’ll be able to give you even more attention than before.

We have also replaced a lot of the furniture around the lodge with plush leather armchairs and sofas that we think you’ll really enjoy. The outdoor furniture has also been replaced with cedar Adirondack chairs that will make your cocktail hour even more enjoyable as you gaze at the majestic Pioneer Mountains surrounding the lodge.  We now have Verizon cell phone service at the lodge limited to the dining room and the deck adjoining the dining room.

FRESH FACES ON THE OARS
We have a new guide in our line-up, Rudy Ketchum, whom I think will be a great addition to our team. Rudy grew up in Butte and has fly fished the Big Hole most of his life. He has an MBA and has installed healthcare software in hospitals for the past 22 years. Rudy has two sons and a daughter and looks forward to spending more time with his family and guiding our clients on the Big Hole. We also have a new guide for the Missouri River, Russ  Dobrzynski, who lives in Craig, MT and fishes and guides on the river year round.  Russ will be our Missouri River expert and loves to hunt those trophy brown trout that the river is known for. This is an overnight trip and requires advance reservations so please call us if you’re interested. The additional fee for the Missouri trip is $200 per person. My son Wade will finish law school and sit for his bar exam in late July. After what will be a much-needed vacation, he’ll return to our guide roster in late August and be with us each summer going forward.

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145% OF SNOWPACK
With all the snow we’ve been getting, the Big Hole should have great flows this summer and allow our guides to float their boats with relative ease through September. The snowpack going into March is 145% of normal which is fantastic! We still have some excellent weeks available in July, August and September that should offer some of the best fishing we’ve had in several years with the healthy flows that are predicted for the latter part of the season.

As an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge and being one of the premiere lodges offered by Frontiers Travel, we are proud to have hosted fly fishing trips for our guests for over 30 years.  Please give us a call soon and we can talk Montana trout fishing! This is shaping up to be a very special year and we don’t want you to miss it.

(406) 832-3252
info@bigholelodge.com
www.flyfishinglodge.com

Winter Silence

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Winter is Back

Winter has returned to Southwest Montana.  At the bottom of the Big Hole Watershed, south of Butte, the snowpack currently looks like this:

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 And at the top of the Continental Divide, the Big Hole Watershed's storage supply looks like this:

 

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Craig and Gus were trekking around in the woods last week, with Craig on skis and Gus doing his best snowshoed rabbit impression.  This jack-pole fence is shoulder height!

 

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Comin' Down

Warm weather, then snow and rain, then more warm weather has rocketed the river from a scary July level to historical average for June.  This has made for a tough week of fishing, but starting Wednesday the river is leveling out and coming down.

This weekend's cold temps ought to keep the snow in the mountains, so we will be at the mercy of the rainstorms.  The hatch will most likely not come off until we get a warm day, but I wouldn't be afraid to throw a big bug as the water clears up.

Winter's Coming....and why not? it's almost June

Since I left for work this morning at 6:30, it has been snowing off and on with about 3 inches now on the ground.  According to NOAA, a lot more is on the way....up to two feet!

Hazardous Weather Outlook

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTHWEST
MONTANA.BEAVERHEAD(Big Hole Lodge)-MADISON-GALLATIN-

A WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR ELEVATIONS ABOVE 6000
FEET.

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT TONIGHT THROUGH NOON
SUNDAY ABOVE 4000 FEET.

SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 12 TO 24 INCHES
  CAN BE EXPECTED ABOVE 6000 FEET BY MID DAY SUNDAY...WITH
  ISOLATED HIGHER AMOUNTS. FOR ELEVATIONS BELOW 6000 FEET...TOTAL
  SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 6 INCHES ARE EXPECTED...WITH MOST OF
  THE ACCUMULATING SNOWFALL OCCURRING AT NIGHT.

Don't Pack Those Skis Away Yet

 Well the "blizzard" must have ended right after we went to sleep, because the "foot" of snow they were calling for above 6,000' proved to be just a thin blanket of heavy, wet snow.  But we'll take it!

Montana and the West had an unusually light winter and many fear a dry summer.  If we continue to get these spring refills we'll be in great shape for August and September.  The light snow pictured here at 6,300' could well be over a foot in the 8 and 9,000' mountains above the Big Hole.

The Wise River is pumping right now. The rock pictured above was underwater yesterday and most likely will be again by tomorrow. In the summer that rock stands 6 feet out of the water.

As you can see, we have a wet week in store.  The meteorologists are putting out winter storm warnings throughout the state today, and expect over a foot of snow accumulation in the Big Hole area.

LET IT SNOW!

Blizzard!

There is an absolute whiteout snowstorm at the lodge right now.  100% chance of snow through the weekend and they are calling for 14" of snow starting at 7,000 feet!  This translates into a LOT of snow in the high country.

I'll get up and take pics in the morning for you all.  It ought to be a winter wonderland

Big Hole Valley Snowpack Update

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The headwaters of the Big Hole sit high in these mountains

As I'm sure you all have heard, the West experienced a pretty mild winter. The skiing community would have you believe Old Man Winter forgot about the Northern Rockies this year, with resorts like Vail, Squaw, and Bridger Bowl still seeing grass poking through the snowpack in January.  There is no doubt that winter started uncharacteristically late, but after a dismal start Montana is back to 95% of historical average snowpack statewide.

The Upper Clark Fork basin is at 98% of average, the Bitterroot is sitting pretty at 105%, and in the Big Hole Valley, we are at 88% of average snow water equivalent and 96% of average precipitation to date.

Historically, Montana receives 80% of its snowpack by March 1st, and as we enter April we look forward to a stormy end to winter to bring us up to the "normal" snowpack benchmark.

We had a 5-year rain event last week that brought a lot of the low snow out of the fields and broke the ice out of the Big Hole, but in the high country that wet, dense snow will act as a cap when it freezes during the nights, ensuring the snow comes out more slowly when the bright sun of May hits.

I drove through the upper Big Hole on Tuesday to get a better look at the high country snow and things are looking pretty good:

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Goat Peak, from above the East Bank put-in

 

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Goat Peak, in the Pintler Wilderness

 

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Snow in the Pintlers and ice on the banks of the Big Hole 

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Mountains feeding the North Fork of the Big Hole

 

It was a nail-biting winter, but we are in good shape as we enter the spring.  Keep doing snow dances for good measure!

Winter Finally Returns to the Big Hole Valley

Gus hasn't been able to figure out what is wrong with us this winter.  I'm usually buzzing around on a snow-machine or skinning around in the mountains in search of deep turns, while dad is silently gliding through the woods on his cross-country skis with Gus in tow.   So far it has seemed that Old Man Winter and his mistress, La Nina, have forgotten Southwest Montana and the rest of the West.

It looks as if all that will change this week.  There has finally been a shift in the storm track, dropping it down from B.C. into Northwestern USA. Forecasts show that the ridge off the West Coast will be replaced with a trough as the ridge builds up over Alaska and low pressure sets up off the coast of Canada, directing a series of storms our way. This could set up a very good base of heavy dense snow pack mainly above 6,000 feet and a lot of water that we haven't seen in November and December!

We woke up to -8 degrees this morning and it looks like the snow will come in as the temps rise over the next few days.  Happy skiing now, until we can fish in the same water when it melts next summer!

Here's what's in store for the Upper Big Hole Valley and the mountains that feed the river:

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