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Old 05-22-2012, 11:02 PM
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Default Question - May in the Rockies

So this is my second go-around with springtime (per the calendar) in the Rocky Mountains... and I'm curious if I am "missing out" on some fine fishing or should be saving my energy for a summer push.

Last winter it seemed like the mother-of-all snowpacks (as much as 350% reported in some areas) and this past winter quite the opposite with most reports at 50-65% snowpack.

So I am curious - in a TYPICAL season, is May the snowmelt/runoff month (for the most part)? Back East May was THE month to be on the streams as much as humanly possible, but since moving west it seems like May is kind of a washout with mid/late June being the time things get seriously going.

This has been my biggest struggle so far out here - the juggling of the prime trout time... can't seem to get my FF clock adjusted correctly. I can't seem to figure out if I should force the issue and "fish through" the torrent or save my coupons for better days ahead.
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Old 05-22-2012, 11:29 PM
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Default Re: Question - May in the Rockies

If the water is brown, I'd go fish the lakes. milt.
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Old 05-23-2012, 12:26 AM
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Default Re: Question - May in the Rockies

I don't typically go to the Rockies to fish until July-October with mid-late September being my favorite time. After a heavy snow winter, the high water runoff can last well into July. By late summer and early fall, the rivers are usually tame and clear and the bigger bugs and hoppers are hatching. Elk are bugling. Aspens turning yellow. Kids are back in school and crowds are gone.... It's a great time to be there.
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Old 05-23-2012, 12:26 AM
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Default Re: Question - May in the Rockies

There are some folks from closer to your area that will probably be able to answer you more specifically. I can tell you that here in Montana, May is most definitely run-off month. From mid-April on one can expect fluctuating flows, high water and unfishable conditions. Peak run-off, for the Missoula area, give or take a couple weeks is end of May/beginning of June.

In a typical year (I don't know what that means anymore) with average snowpack, average spring warm up in April/May and good rain in June, I plan on good river conditions the 1st of July. We certainly fish in June, but I mean really good stable and continually dropping flows.

Patience. Get your yard work and chores around the house done now while it's nice and warm and sunny and you can't fish!
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Old 05-23-2012, 04:11 AM
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Default Re: Question - May in the Rockies

Quote:
Originally Posted by dean_mt View Post
There are some folks from closer to your area that will probably be able to answer you more specifically. I can tell you that here in Montana, May is most definitely run-off month. From mid-April on one can expect fluctuating flows, high water and unfishable conditions. Peak run-off, for the Missoula area, give or take a couple weeks is end of May/beginning of June.

In a typical year (I don't know what that means anymore) with average snowpack, average spring warm up in April/May and good rain in June, I plan on good river conditions the 1st of July. We certainly fish in June, but I mean really good stable and continually dropping flows.

Patience. Get your yard work and chores around the house done now while it's nice and warm and sunny and you can't fish!
That is the same here in Wyoming. During an average snowpack year May is when the streams are in run off, but there is always tailwater and stillwater fishing.
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Old 05-23-2012, 06:03 AM
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Default Re: Question - May in the Rockies

I seem to remember even last year fishing right up to memorial day , which is right when runoff really picked up. Typically the first few weeks of May arepretty good as it is when the Stoneflies typically come off. So even in deeper faster water that might be slightly off color, big hot wire prince nymphs, stonefly patterns are still effective.
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Old 05-23-2012, 06:11 AM
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Default Re: Question - May in the Rockies

Everything depends on the snowpack and/or if we skip spring and go right into summer.
It's a year by year thing. But on the Wasatch front and back, you can bet it'll start in May and could go into June. So far this year it's been freaky.
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:16 PM
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Default Re: Question - May in the Rockies

Here in Colorado, on a NORMAL year, runoff starts late April/early May. By the first week in June the rivers are high but clear and certainly fishable.

Last year it was late July before we could fish streams, this year there is no runoff whatsoever, May has been very, very good fishing. I worry about August and September though.

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Old 05-24-2012, 06:06 AM
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Default Re: Question - May in the Rockies

Here in Jackson which is close to you we usually expect to be fishing by July 1st. Last year was a freak year in that runoff went till August. This year we had lite snow pack so expect fishing to start in June. Though there will be waters that clear up sooner than others or don't really get runoff much at all. Explore the little feeder creeks first, check your regs first as some may be closed for spawning.
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:00 AM
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Default Re: Question - May in the Rockies

I fished right through runoff last year and had a great time, even though runoff lasted until mid-july. I certainly was not going to wait that long to go fishing...

There are plenty of tailwaters with controlled flow, and stretches of river where irrigation water is pulled. It took some work, some split shot, and bright flies, But runoff be darned, I caught a lot of fish right through it. Even caught some big bows on the blue at 800 cfs last july on streamers.

This year runoff is supposed to be nearly non-existant, so I don't think it will really matter when you fish it. Some guides are more worried about the water getting too hot and slow in teh late summer for any good fishing.

What I learned last year is that the fish are always there, it just might take a little more work in the high water. Besides, there are enough rivers along the Rocky Mountains to really pick whatever is best at the time.
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