Let's Talk About the Weather
Talking about the weather is a pastime encountered the world over ever since the weather began on this blessed earth. And this year, there’s much to discuss in the West.
Atmospheric rivers, and snowstorms measured in feet instead of inches, one after another after another. Impassable roads and highways, buried houses, and ski areas closed due to too much snow.
But with all this moisture, we can also hear nature sighing with relief. Enduring a 20+ year drought across the West, a bit of reprieve was more than just needed. It was mandatory for the way of life we have built out here…and for the fish.
Mountains are iced with thick layers of snow. Tree wells nearly create echoes for the passing snow sliders. High mountain creeks remain under feet of snow and ice, with the trout under them giving a big thumbs up to Mother Nature.
Gila, Apache, Lahontan, Westslope, Yellowstone, Colorado, Snake River, and all the other cutthroat trout occupying the western states’ cold, clean waters are all reveling in their life-giving snow. Rainbows, browns, and graylings are swimming happily, thanks to the current influx of freshwater. Even the macroinvertebrates (trout food) are clinging for dear life to their river rock-bottom homes, drunk on all the water.
Challenges and Promises
Snowpack is what feeds our rivers and fish, and it is all that keeps them flowing and thriving throughout the year. Snowpack data shows many drainages are holding upwards of 200% of their 30-year average. Most of Colorado is well over 100% of average, pushing towards that 200 mark with more storms hitting this late springtime. And others further west are even more impressive, showing over 400% of their normal range. Wow! There’s a lot to celebrate with those statistics, and as a lifelong, passionate angler, count me among the revelers.
Now that spring has kind of sprung, waterways are running high and dirty, rushing towards the many reservoirs emptied of their life-giving storage over the past decades. The dams are fully open with the expectant arrival of snowmelt, and with that comes worry from irrigation district managers about their dams’ ability to hold. But farmers and ranchers are delighted knowing they’ll have a good year for water crops and cattle.
Fish (and Anglers) Love Water
Every weather anomaly brings a whole host of emotions and states of moving on. Folks in coastal California are cleaning up after rainstorms of biblical proportions and wondering if they’ll get inundated again. A bit to the east, mountain towns are praying the snow melts slowly. Ski areas saw historic years throughout Utah, so after quite a few lousy snow years, they are rejoicing.
But I keep going back to the fish. Fish love water. And snow is just another form of soon-to-be water. Life-giving, cold, clean, clear water. All this snow makes me eager for summer to get here. I can hardly wait to wet wade through my favorite local creeks and hike to high country lakes in search of grinning trout.