Snowpack looking a lot better this year
By Hookemharry

Posted: March 23, 2006

Spring is here and, for the time being, the mountain snow pack is a lot better than last year at his time.

The spring runoff looks like it’s going to be great for the rivers and creeks. As my good friend Doug Persico says from Rock Fisherman’s Mercantile, it has been a while since the rivers and streams have had a good flushing.

High water runoff is good for the rivers. It helps restore the eco-system, flushing the silt out of gravels and making them clean again. That helps with trout spawning success.

While the higher ground is getting a lot of snow, the lower elevations east of the mountains are in bad need of moisture.

I y attended the 21st annual Montana Outdoor Recreation Expedition (MORE show) in Billings at MetraPark last weekend.

The show was well attended and I had a chance to get together with my old friend Mark Henckel, the Outdoor Editor of the Billings Gazett,e and catch up on a few things that are happening in that part of Montana.

We really could use some moisture over here. It has been awfully dry this past winter since the first of the year, Henckel said.

In fact, reading the weather page of the Gazette really tells the how dry it has been. As of Tuesday morning, Billings has received. 80 inches of precipitation since January 1 and that was after a heavy, wet snow hit the area on Sunday and Monday.

The normal amount the area receives is just over 2 inches. Of the .80 that the area has received so far, over half of the amount fell in that Sunday-Monday storm.

We’d like you to come over more often, especially if you can bring that moisture with you, Henckel said. After so many dry years, we’ll take all we can get.

Western Montana has been very lucky with the moisture running about normal for the year so far. And, the mountain snowpack that melts and flows eastward onto the prairies is going to help that part of the state.

The good news is they are predicting that Fort Peck Reservoir is earmarked to come up around 10 feet from its current level with all the mountain snow spring run-off, said outfitter Marvin Loomis, of Brussett.

Now, the big question will be how much of that water will be allowed to stay in Fort Peck and how much is going to go through the dam and on downriver.

Speaking of Fort Peck, they had a benefit auction to help rebuild the Hell Creek Marina last Sunday at the MORE show. The marina, which was destroyed by fire in December, saw around $10,000 come its way because of the auction, which was organized by Mary Beth Kibler, an outfitter out of Sand Springs.

The highest ticket item was a yellow lab donated by Jack and Pat Schilla, from Dupuyer, added Henckel. The dog which will also be trained for four months, a donation from Jeff Smith, The Dogman of Ronan. The lab pup and training went for $1,450.�

Clint and Deb Thomas, who own the marina, thanked everyone for their generosity in the 60-plus-item auction and said they hope to begin the rebuilding in the next couple of weeks, just as soon as the final government approval comes through.

Spring Mack Days first weekend went well. A total of 1751 fish were entered into the lottery-based drawing, which will take place on Saturday April 15. Roger Davis leads the pack with 60 fish turned in. Jon Bailey and Jens Gran turned in 55 and 54 fish respectively. Missoul’s Brandt Hammernick was close behind with 50 fish entered.

In the youth class Brandon Baily entered 43 and Keegan Noyd was a distant second with 18.

“We are off to a great start with the tourney,� said Cindy Bras, a derby organizer with the Salish and Kootenai Tribe. For entry information and updated derby results, log onto

Finally, there are only 20 openings left in the Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival tourney. It will be held June 24-25. To enter, contact Doug Breker at 266-5279.

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