DIVIDE - While flooding out in Yellowstone is harming Montana’s tourism industry, fishing guides on the Big Hole River — and in 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 recent 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 Great Divide Outfitters owner Lia Jones.
“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," Bradley added.
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 Southwest 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 is welcome, especially have 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.