NewsMontana and Regional News


Recent rains cause hazardous river conditions

Posted at 6:04 PM, May 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-09 11:27:36-04

MISSOURI RIVER — Recent rainfall in Montana has greatly exaggerated flows in the state's rivers. Fishing access sites in Havre and Yellowstone County have already been reported, and most recently another closure in Truly southeast of Ulm on Friday.

That fishing access site that was closed last Friday because of really record high flows on the river, on the Smith River, almost double the highest flows they've ever had for that date,” says Dave Hagengruber with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

Good watershed years are beneficial in the long-run to the ecosystem as they yield higher water levels through the dryer months of late summer. For now, they are still considered hazardous.

“A lot of the tributaries are flowing very heavily. The Dearborn yesterday was up to 1400 CFS and a little prickly pear is about 600 CFS now. So a lot of flow for some very small creeks that are running into the Missouri River,” says Paul Erdmann, a fly fisherman and employee at Headhunter’s Flyshop.

For reference the average CFS or Cubic Feet per Second of these rivers hovers around 150 for the majority of the year.

“The the issue is some of the smaller creeks that are really high flows, whether it's for fishing or whether it's for boating, you know, floating a kayak or a canoe or a raft. Those are potential hazardous spots right now,” says Hagengruber.

Montana FWP estimate these conditions will continue over the next 4-6 weeks as snow continues to melt and rain continues to be forecasted.

For those who do wish to fish, stay away from small streams and tributaries. Rather, stick to the Missouri River, reservoirs, and lakes. FWP recommends wearing a life-vest on the water, even if you are just wading.

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