John and I recently spoke about the water levels for the first time this winter. While we are not scientists, biologists, water managers, degreed in any way that would make us qualified to gauge what will happen in 2020…below is what we spoke about.
A bit lower than average YTD. According to the charts.
The gut check says we are well behind. The lack of white in the hills, the windy but not cold nature of the last couple weeks, and the aforementioned gut check says we are behind.
December brought us 110% inflows at Canyon Ferry. December a bit warmer than average.
The map shows that we are not too far from normalcy. But, neither of us really believe that colored map. IT has not been one of the tools to use to actually predict what will happen, or has happened.
But it is pretty and gives you a broad swatch of a tiny window of the entire 2020 water image.
We do know the water is damn cold coming off of the top of the lake. John has mentioned the number of times he has been at the dam swinging and watching the water come from the top. Not much ice on the lake, but that does not mean that upper level waters are any warmer. Those waters can chill those fish right out in that dam region. Not always good. Some work up there on the flashing it appears for the past couple months and it may continue for some time. Bang away boys, get that all fixed upper the summer! Add some generator maintenance which moves water up and down, more importantly up making the swing difficult changing water depths and holding environs.
We also know that we have 4 months of precipitation ahead of us. That really matters. May and June are both wet, for central Montana, but that water does not count as much as the next 4 do.
It can happen. Normal water is what we are always looking for. High water is better than low water. High water is good for trout, not as good for wade anglers. Mother Nature holds the cards for all parties in this annual game.
And that is all we know. Again, not scientists. Just like farmers have their gut check, we have our optics too.
And the answer is…we don’t know.