Northern Rockies Fishing Forecast
Experts Journal — Field Report

Northern Rockies Fishing Forecast

April 3, 2020 | Tim Murphy

April in the Northern Rockies is unpredictable.  One day you will be mowing the yard and the next shoveling the driveway.  It’s a time of year when we substantially build and store snowpack in the mountains while the valleys emerge from winter slumber.  Current snowpack conditions in and around the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem including Wyoming, Montana and Idaho are in excess of 100% and as high as 120%.  It is certain the snowpack will continue to build through the month which is great news in regard to rivers, irrigation and relief from a flagrant summer fire season.

April is one of the best months of fishing the Northern Rockies for a number of reasons.  Spring weather remains generally cool and although we have a mass amount of mountain snow, the release in greater volume usually does not substantially begin until May.  The result is low, clear water and the emergence of the first major hatches of the year.

As the waters warm, the fish become more active and willingly begin to chase large streamers.  Simultaneously, hatches become more prolific as the mayflies emerge and the trout chase these delicate flies as they skate on the surface.  This is generally followed by early caddis and the much larger golden stone’s and skwalla’s which present the first major meal of the year for hungry trout.  There is no doubt that throwing large dry fly’s at feeding trout is what it is all about!  Timing of course is everything, as water temperature triggers the various hatches and at times weather conditions are not favorable.  All of this occurs at the same time as the rainbows are spawning.  Many consider this to be the best fishing of the year, and the rivers are often devoid of people providing the ultimate angling experience.

Living here has its certain advantages.  Skiing on powder days, migrating waterfowl, rutting elk and fishing during prolific hatches.  It’s a challenging time in the world with so much fear and uncertainty consuming our daily lives.  Ordinarily, we are absorbed by our daily routines of work, chasing kids to various functions and life.  A brighter note that has come of late, is that fishing has become a great escape for my family.  We have fished more in the last two weeks than we have in the last two years.  Fishing is a mental massage.  Standing in a beautiful stream gracefully sending a fly line tipped with a small fly into a precise location in anticipation of a strike is good medicine.  Particularly when it all comes together!  There is solitude on the river, fresh air and a temporary retreat from current realities.  It’s a time to bond with family, teach your kids to fish and remember what it is we love about living here.  It is this same reason why so many of our clients choose to buy ranches out west.  I know there are many who are here now riding out the storm and reminiscing on why they chose to live here.  With dark skies there is often a rainbow. Go fish!

About the author

Tim Murphy, Management Group
Bozeman, MT  |  [email protected] | (406) 577-3741