Middle Fork Of Salmon Trip Canceled...

satyr

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If you live in California and don't recognize that drought is getting more and more persistent, and generally worse year to year, then you aren't paying attention. When streams like Hot Creek are being de-watered so much that the trout population dies this is new. There used to be 12,000 fish per mile in that creek, year after year. It was down to less than 300 a couple years ago before they replanted it. Now the new population will most likely die due to lack of water this year. I wish I could say that I don't believe in global warming but the changes in our weather in the last 50 years are so obvious that you have to be blind or really young not to have noticed.
 

heero

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Also, @myt1 , the end of June is going to be great water levels for a MIddle Fork Salmon float this year. Probably best time to do it. Why would you cancel?
 

Meuniere

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Thanks for clarifying that, heero - I was going to point out same - and if one looks at the current USGS streamflow statistics for the Bitterroot (I use Darby #12344000, they are pretty much within "normal" for this time of year, which included a substantial variation in flow. We fish the Root every year, sometimes twice, and I am expecting levels to be very very low by the time we get to mid-to-late July and early August. Here's today's look at the Darby station cfs - running just below the median (doesn't mean a lot, but at least it's not super-low yet).

Daily discharge, cubic feet per second -- statistics for Jun 9 based on 84 water years of record more

Min
(1992)
25th
percen-
tile
Most Recent
Instantaneous
Value Jun 9
MedianMean75th
percen-
tile
Max
(1964)
839222030703310354043708870
 

fatbillybob

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If you live in California and don't recognize that drought is getting more and more persistent, and generally worse year to year, then you aren't paying attention. When streams like Hot Creek are being de-watered so much that the trout population dies this is new. There used to be 12,000 fish per mile in that creek, year after year. It was down to less than 300 a couple years ago before they replanted it. Now the new population will most likely die due to lack of water this year. I wish I could say that I don't believe in global warming but the changes in our weather in the last 50 years are so obvious that you have to be blind or really young not to have noticed.
I must be a blind guy that can only see fish. I was just at Hotcreek last week and the water was extremely clear. I could see 100 fish within casting distance. IMO it has always been fish in a barrel on Hotcreek and every year my catch has always been about the same.
 

myt1

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Also, @myt1 , the end of June is going to be great water levels for a MIddle Fork Salmon float this year. Probably best time to do it. Why would you cancel?
I hope you're right.

It is my understanding that the sweet-spot for the Middle Fork of the Salmon is a water level of 3-5 feet.

I believe the water level predicted for our put-in date, June 24, is 2 feet; if I understand correctly this is very marginal. I think they call these conditions "boney".

My buddy says anything lower than 2 feet at our put-in date and he won't go. It's his boat, so I won't be going either. He says we will be getting out of our raft and pushing more than he wants if the levels are below 2 feet. I'm also guessing this can't be good for the raft.

That being said, apparently, after the first 25 miles the river picks up more water from tributaries and we should be good. My buddy just doesn't want to be pushing the raft for the first two days of a six day trip.

My buddy is also an avid fly fisherman, way better than me, and he says if we do put-in at lower water levels this should mean really good fishing.

At this point I'm cautiously optimistic the trip will happen.

1623264465280.png
 
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heero

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I hope you're right.

It is my understanding that the sweet-spot for the Middle Fork of the Salmon is a water level of 3-5 feet.

I believe the water level predicted for our put-in date, June 24, is 2 feet; if I understand correctly this is very marginal. I think they call these conditions "boney".

My buddy says anything lower than 2 feet at our put-in date and he won't go. It's his boat, so I won't be going either. He says we will be getting out of our raft and pushing more than he wants if the levels are below 2 feet. I'm also guessing this can't be good for the raft.

That being said, apparently, after the first 25 miles the river picks up more water from tributaries and we should be good. My buddy just doesn't want to be pushing the raft for the first two days of a six day trip.

My buddy is also an avid fly fisherman, way better than me, and he says if we do put-in at lower water levels this should mean really good fishing.

At this point I'm cautiously optimistic the trip will happen.

View attachment 36509
Holy crap, I didnt realize it is that low. Still, what it is at now is early July flows and 1000-2000 is typical month of July flows, which is what is usually the most desirable month to float. Ive never done it so I cant speak from experience.

Still, pushing the boat a little is a small price to pay for an opportunity you and he may never get again. Like you said, his boat...
 

satyr

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I must be a blind guy that can only see fish. I was just at Hotcreek last week and the water was extremely clear. I could see 100 fish within casting distance. IMO it has always been fish in a barrel on Hotcreek and every year my catch has always been about the same.
Then you haven't been fishing Hot Creek long enough or you really are blind. 6 years ago you would not have seen more than 1 or 2 fish since the lack of water killed almost all the fish in the creek. But they planted 10s of thousands of sub-catchables 4 years ago and again 3 years ago. They are finally starting to gain some size.
 

mikemac1

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It’s ashamed that just about everything that we perceive as adverse now a days for our cold water fisheries is because of that boogy man “Climate Change”, despite the fact that the earth’s climate is in constant change and has been for eons. When we lose a wild coldwater fishery (something that been happening since the 1700s) it can almost always be attributed to severe habitat degradation—high sediment loads, loss of bank side vegetation, loss of shade, pollution, etc. Indeed if you also “remove” too much water from watersheds, things get worse. Snowpack, storms, aquifers are by their very nature cyclic and have been for eons. There was an interesting piece in the Montana Outdoor magazine about the Beaverhead. The one bit of info that I found relevant to this discussion was the fact that before they built Clark Canyon Dam in the 1960s, sections of the Beaverhead went dry every summer. Yet, the trout survived. IMHO
 

osseous

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MFS is generally thought of as a Spring whitewater float. You want runoff for that, of course. Once the water drops, people still float it to fish- and the fishing is better. Check with an outfitter and get their insight on good flows for fishing- base your decision on that... not info intended for whitewater folks.

Sent from my SM-N986U1 using Tapatalk
 

fatbillybob

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Then you haven't been fishing Hot Creek long enough or you really are blind. 6 years ago you would not have seen more than 1 or 2 fish since the lack of water killed almost all the fish in the creek. But they planted 10s of thousands of sub-catchables 4 years ago and again 3 years ago. They are finally starting to gain some size.
I have fished Hot creek at least once a year for 50 years. I have never had a problem there even 6 years ago. I only fish it going in or out of town because it is 10mins from mammoth and I'm not wadered up. Otherwise just too many people. I average about 3-4 trips up there per summer and 6 in the winter. I can't remember the last time I got skunked there.

Last week there was a hot shot moved onto the water with a crew of guys and a photographer. He was talking loud eough and close enough about Hot Creek and the hot creek caddis pattern. He sounded real convincing. Fish were rising all around us as he cast and had no takers. I caught 2 fish before he arrived and my BIL did too a little further downstream. We were there for all of 30 mintes and just shot over to H creek while the ladies were putting on their faces. I decided to stop fishing and watch the show. Nothing as fish continued to rise. 20mins of casting they soon left the very nice pool as fish continued to rise. So I shout over to my BIL and wave him over. I say watch this....As I put a 40ft cast out into their pool of rising fish. First cast and a fish was on. I'm not that good honestly and keep learning still after over 50 years of fishing. But hot creek just rarely lets me down. My BIL then followed my in and caught a bigger fish.
 

salmo7000

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Seriously, late June and you're going to cancel a MF Salmon trip because of supposedly low flows?? That's crazy!! I live in Idaho. I rowed the MF Salmon in 2008, launching at Boundary the third week in July at 2.3 feet. That was plenty of water to get all our boats through, and the fishing was fantastic!! Yes, there were rocks sticking out, but anyone who can read a river should be able to pilot even a large raft through the top end at 2 feet. I never got out of my boat even once, never ran aground, and that was rowing an overloaded cataraft.

And I wouldn't bet it will even be at 2 feet. Right now central Idaho is under a winter weather advisory for the next 2 days. Cold temps and lots of precip forecast, including snow at the higher elevations. There is actually quite a bit of snow in mountains still. Yes it could come off in the following week or 2, but the MF Salmon usually holds its flow really well, through June at least.

And if for some reason the river is below 2 feet by late June, you can always can fly your boat and stuff into Indian Creek and launch from there. No problem with low flow downstream of that point! Also, at really low flows, some people launch their boats at Boundary and proceed downriver with a light load. They have the rest of their stuff flown into Indian Creek and pick it up there. There are many options here, other than giving up your permit and not going!

Seriously, if you don't believe me, check with any of the multitude of outfitters who run their gigantic sweep boats (full of gear) from Boundary at 1.5 feet and lower. The MF Salmon is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I would go no matter what!
 

Ard

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Hi Rick,

I generally err on the side of caution and conservation but .............. In view of the long term projections for dry weather all over the western US I would take the trip. If I arrived and found it impossible or closed I'd find something else to do but I'd try the trip. Posters have stated that this is the trip of a lifetime and you said you got the permit in a lottery type draw, I'd go no matter what.

I've been urging people I know to get up here for over ten years now telling them that this ain't like a bottle of good red wine, it isn't getting better with age and neither are your rivers in the lower 48. As always, handle the fish as if they could die if mishandled and take the trip.
 

proheli

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Stanley is a beautiful area, and even if you couldn't get on the Middle Fork, you would have a fantastic time. I didn't have a guide trip last year and we hiked/walked in a couple of hours, and saw some great river. The creek, and I mean "creek" that we camped next to was incredibly pretty and there were big fish right next to the campsite. Super fun.
 
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myt1

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MFS is generally thought of as a Spring whitewater float. You want runoff for that, of course. Once the water drops, people still float it to fish- and the fishing is better. Check with an outfitter and get their insight on good flows for fishing- base your decision on that... not info intended for whitewater folks.

Sent from my SM-N986U1 using Tapatalk
I'm going for the fishing, but, other than my buddy, every one else is going for the whitewater rafting.

I got invited on this trip pretty much by coming in through the backdoor, as a friend of a friend. I pretty much have to do what everyone else decides to do.

That being said, I'm guessing the trip is going to happen.
 

myt1

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Seriously, late June and you're going to cancel a MF Salmon trip because of supposedly low flows?? That's crazy!! I live in Idaho. I rowed the MF Salmon in 2008, launching at Boundary the third week in July at 2.3 feet. That was plenty of water to get all our boats through, and the fishing was fantastic!! Yes, there were rocks sticking out, but anyone who can read a river should be able to pilot even a large raft through the top end at 2 feet. I never got out of my boat even once, never ran aground, and that was rowing an overloaded cataraft.

And I wouldn't bet it will even be at 2 feet. Right now central Idaho is under a winter weather advisory for the next 2 days. Cold temps and lots of precip forecast, including snow at the higher elevations. There is actually quite a bit of snow in mountains still. Yes it could come off in the following week or 2, but the MF Salmon usually holds its flow really well, through June at least.

And if for some reason the river is below 2 feet by late June, you can always can fly your boat and stuff into Indian Creek and launch from there. No problem with low flow downstream of that point! Also, at really low flows, some people launch their boats at Boundary and proceed downriver with a light load. They have the rest of their stuff flown into Indian Creek and pick it up there. There are many options here, other than giving up your permit and not going!

Seriously, if you don't believe me, check with any of the multitude of outfitters who run their gigantic sweep boats (full of gear) from Boundary at 1.5 feet and lower. The MF Salmon is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I would go no matter what!
I forwarded this to my buddy.

Maybe it will shame him into doing the trip.
 

AzTrouter

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I’m glad I hit the creeks early in AZ, it’s looking like a stillwater, tailwater till the monsoon rains start up sorta year. That and we’re under severe fire restrictions. This is pretty much the routine around here anyway, just got a little more compressed :- )

I’ve come to enjoy stillwater trouting, we get excellent dry fly and terrestrial action. My drift boat makes a Cadillac of a stillwater fishing platform form and I’ve got a float tube that’s fun to fish the real small mountain lakes. Most of the mountain lakes here are electric motor only so it’s fairly peaceful, but I usually just row because it’s fun :)
 
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