With a mild winter and low snow fall some Bitterroot backcountry anglers think high mountain lakes will be open by the end of May, while others aren’t so sure.
As a rule of thumb the lowest elevation lakes are open and fishable by the last few days in June especially if they aren’t tucked into a shaded bowl.
Even during relatively warm winters and low snow fall hikers have been surprised after arriving at a favorite lake only to see it still frozen solid.
Reports of some lakes as high as 6500′ feet with long sunlight exposure being wide open already may encourage hikers to venture deep into the back country in search of trout early this year.
Check the contours of the landscape around the lake you’re headed to and if it is shaded by high ridges especially on the south and east ends you should probably pick a different lake.
Whether the lake is open or not is a gamble but be prepared to encounter snow and mud slides, they are a given this time of year.
All indications are that lakes will open two to three weeks earier than normal this year but life is different up high in the Bitterroots. I guess part of the adventure is hiking in there, you’ll either see water or ice.
To be sure the lake you want to fish is ice-free plan your earliest trips in mid-June this year. Let us know if you have been to a back country lake already in 2015! This could be a great year!