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Neil M Travis - August 1, 2011

western water report Aug 1 , 2011

The good news is that the waterways in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are finally beginning to look like trout streams again. As I write this the Yellowstone River at Livingston, Montana is approaching 9,000 cfs, down from its high point in late June of 36,000 cfs. However, even at its current rate of flow it is still about 5,000 cfs above what would be considered normal at this time of the year. This is true of all the waterways in the area.

If you are planning to come out to fish in this area be prepared for streams and lakes that are higher than normal. This condition will likely continue into at least mid-August and, in some cases, well into the fall. Many streams, like the Yellowstone, are still off-colored due to high water still coming out of Yellowstone National Park, especially Yellowstone Lake. This will continue until the level of Yellowstone Lake falls significantly The Yellowstone River at the outlet on the lake is current running nearly 4,000 cfs above normal flows. These high flows are flushing dirt from the walls of the Yellowstone Canyon in the Park giving the river a grayish color. This will persist until the level of the Lake drops.

The Big Horn and Missouri headwaters are still running higher than average, with the Big Horn River still running at 10,000 cfs. The Missouri is getting closer to more normal flows with flow rates only about 2,000 cfs above the normal range.

If you are coming to fish any of the western waters please be advised that there have been many changes on many of the rivers due to the unusually high water that we have experienced this year. What has made this year unusual in many places is the length of time that the rivers have been at or above flood stage. A number of people have already drowned, including some experienced water users. Many streams are clogged with debris including trees, fences, and the remains of structures that were swept away in the high water. Don't make yourself a statistic.  

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