I have been fishing the middle and lower sections and I can tell you that as of last Thursday the fishing started to pick up, but is by no means good yet. Especially because we have had rain and snow in the last few days and precipitation is also in the forecast for this week. This is precisely what I like to see. The doldrums of the skinny flows and anxious anglers bombarding the river is always a sore sight for me to see during early spring fishing months. Now that there is a spike in the flows it does a few things to trout and also makes it more difficult for anglers to put pressure on the same holes. In the winter, some of the big trout hang out in the slow, deep water runs that barely move. When flows pick up it causes some of these trout to begin to migrate. The cutthroat and rainbows actually get triggered into realizing that it is time to migrate and fine good spawning gravel. The river is on the rise, but will stabilize and probably even drop depending on nightime temperatures. The graphs that are important to look at are the flows at Darby and at Bell Crossing. Whenever you look at these graphs, because the flows were so low, the influx can cause the graph to look steep even though they have only risen a few inches, so everything is relative. The Darby gauge shows that the river went from 350 CFS to 600 CFS a couple days ago and is already dropping. The middle river graph at Bell Crossing has done almost the same trend, rising from 550 CFS to almost 900 CFS and now it is stabilizing and dropping a little. Flows on the upper river tend to be diurnal (meaning they go up and down in a 24 hour period) and the lower river rises and lowers according to temperatures and precipitation. Now, if you look at the Missoula flows, there is a big difference. I am upset that the USGS site is discontinued at Florence, because the difference between Bell Crossing and Florence is huge. It is the dynamic of the difference between the lower river and the middle river! The Missoula flows show a rise from 1200 CFS to 1800 CFS and starting to level off today. Generally we like the river stable or dropping for the best fishing. I do pretty well on a rising river sometimes, but not until the hatch has developed and matured.
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