DIVIDE - While flooding out in Yellowstone National Park is harming Montana’s tourism industry, fishing guides in the Big Hole River and Southwest Montana are experiencing some of the best conditions in a long time, and they’re expecting a busy summer.
“Looking like it’s going to shape up to be a great summer for water, fish, fishing,” said Chris Bradley of The StoneFly Fly Shop in Butte.
Guides on the Big Hole River have had a busy June and the recently flooding in south central Montana has prompted more interest in this area.
“We have had just the week a lot of calls about people who hired guides over there, they got canceled and they’re looking for guides over here,” said Lia Jones, owner of Great Divide Outfitters in Divide.
Bradley added, “The phone has been ringing. Lots of people coming to Montana in general, having questions as to, you know, what areas are impacted, what areas aren’t, maybe having to shift plans slightly.”
Floaters on the Big Hole this week are excited about the river conditions.
“It’s going to be really good in this area because it’s a late runoff and normally salmon flies is done by now. We just went through the canyon there and there were thousands of salmon flies,” said Stevensville fisherman Jimmy Edwards.
People expect more anglers will be hitting rivers in Southwestern Montana.
“Oh, people are coming, and especially if they can’t get into Yellowstone and float some of those other rivers, they’ll spread out over here,” said Zack Owen with the Beaverhead Watershed Committee.
The increased water on the rivers in Southwest Montana are welcome, especially after last year’s drought-like conditions.
“We have good flows, I think we’ll stay where the river is super floatable for a while and, you know, the ranchers are happy, the fisherman are happy, so that’s good for everybody,” said Jones.