As we move into June the Missoula fishing forecast is starting to get a little clearer for the 2014 season. Keep in mind that I’m a fishing guide so there will be no shortage of excuses should my predictions prove false. It’s a mix of weather, water, and trout and we get calls everyday, “Will we be able to fish salmonflies on the Blackfoot?” “Will there be enough water in August?” and my personal favorite, “What’s the best time of year to fish Missoula?” The truth is, if I knew the absolute answers to those questions I’d be the highest paid fishing guide in the country. Of course, no one really knows those answers but after 16 years on the water I’ve become a pretty good guesser. Based on what I have seen in the past, current conditions, and the long-term weather forecast I have a fairly good idea of how the season will lay out, but Mother Nature loves to throw curve balls at us.
The best prediction for the 2014 fishing season is this; we had a big snowpack this winter and a cold spring so that snow has just started coming out of the mountains in the last 3 weeks. That should give us good streamflows all summer long. Currently our temps are around average but we have had a very dry May. That’s great short-term news as we could be fishing around Missoula within the next 10 days or so and the salmonfly hatches might be very fishable. All bets are off if it starts raining in earnest and I’ve seen it rain 25 out of 30 days in June before so we can’t be certain about the big bugs yet. Even with some rain the golden stone and green drake hatches should be stellar this year. A nice easy drop in flows is what these bugs love and that looks to be the scenario. The Blackfoot river and upper Bitterroot should really shine in late June through July. The real question is what the summer will offer. Some folks say it is to be dry and hot while others claim the temps will remain mild. We should have enough water to combat all but the worst heat waves and I have already seen a number of grasshoppers already along the banks of the river. This dry spring bodes well for our terresterials and it is shaping up to be a banner hopper season with good streamflows and plenty of bugs haplessly falling in the water. This very well could be the season when the Clark Fork river shows its true colors again with awesome summer hopper fishing. Fall is the season that no one really ever worries about. Fall fishing around Missoula is always great right? Usually yes, but last year we had to deal with closures on the Blackfoot and extremely low water on the Bitterroot. That shouldn’t even be an issue this season and I foresee a return to the consistent dry fly fishing that has made September and October two of my favorite months of fly fishing. So there you have it. The 2014 Missoula fishing forecast predicts a great year on the water. I am sure there will be some road bumps along the way, but a pile of snow and mild temps has us sitting pretty and there should be no shortage of dry fly eats and bent rods this season.