Water flow up — and that’s good news for fishermen

[Tuesday April 8, 2008]  In general, low water levels means poor fishing in Yellowstone National Park — and in recent years low water has been the rule, rather than the exception.

But that could change this coming season, as the water-supply forecast from the National Resources Conservation Service — part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture — indicates the water flow for the Yellowstone River will be average or above average. (You can view the map of projected stream flows here.) Experts from the NRCS say the streamflow should be a little above average west of the Continental Divide and a little below average east of the Continental Divide. In addition, the Yellowstone River should be in for a strong season, with the upper Yellowstone — the stretch between Yellowstone National Park and Billings — projected to have average to above-average streamflows.

So this is good news for all those anglers hitting Yellowstone National Park in search of the elusive trout: the higher the water levels, the better the fishing. But let’s temper this optimism with a little realism.

First, this projection is for spring and early summer. Dry weather in April and May could dampen water levels down quickly.

And the projections don’t carry through to the rest of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The Clark Fork of the Yellowstone is projected to have below-average streamflow due to poor snowpack — an oddity, since the rest of Montana is benefiting from above-average snowpacks.

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