posted on April 28, 2017 14:56
IT IS STARTING OUT A CRAZY SEASON!
With North Star Caviar closing the doors for the year and everyone groping to figure out who was going to clean and count paddlefish, with only a week to go, could it get much crazier! Add to that, river levels that are as high as we would normally see about May 23 when our seasons is peaked and Intake turning on. What are you going to guess is going to happen.
My info along with my educated guess, make that somewhat educated with just a touch of Alzheimer’s playing a part, tells me things will be fine! The North Dakota Game & Fish has jumped in and agreed to keep the fish cleaning part of North Star operating through season so they can continue to collect data and also get a count on harvested fish. The Williams County Water board has lined up portable toilets and garbage containers and the Williston Convention and Visitors Bureau have also come to bat and are currently lining up the shuttle boat driver for the Confluence area. Many of you remember Greg and how helpful he has been to get you across the river and into areas where you can enjoy a little peace and stake your claim to a chunk of the bank. It will be great to have him there again as well as Rory at the cleaning station. The caviar will not be collected this year though and maybe some time again in the future we will hopefully see this resource being put to good use.
The water level is another story and thanks to the computer and all those wonderful flow charts on the internet I believe I have found the source to our high water. There is a tremendous difference in cubic feet per second flow between Billings MT and Miles City MT on the Yellowstone. That means it is not coming from the Rocky Mountains where we get our June rise, which of course hits us in late May. It is coming from high flows in the Big Horn, the Tongue and the Powder rivers. Recent snow and moisture in the Big Horns and the low areas across Southeast Montana have been showing their muscle instead. We are seeing 21,000 cubic feet per second rather than 10,000 which is median or long term average. We should see big changes after this weekend of warmer weather and the water levels should start to fall before the rise from the Rocky’s, where they are still getting snow this week. What effect does this have on paddlefishing? Well a lot because more water means tougher fishing but also turns on the desire of the fish to come up stream with reproducing on their mind. Remember opener last year when we thought the fish should still be in the area of the Pumphouse, where they would generally be in early season. No they had already shot up to Sundheim in some strong numbers. This could be the case again but if the water is much cooler maybe not! If I have enough courage to commit then I would say that the water will drop before the end of next week and fish numbers and snagging will be good for the latter part of next week. Lots of males up the Yellowstone and maybe a few of those black monster females rolling through the Pumphouse and creeping into the Confluence. Get out and enjoy it and while I am in the guessing mode I would also say that the smelt will start running this week so if you can’t get hooked on a big fish then maybe grab a bucket and dip net and try the numbers game!