On June 13, 2022 many Montanans woke up to breaking news of historic runoff. A year ago today in Montana, many rivers were hit hard with devastating flooding from the increased snow and rain in the late spring, tripling some rivers in volume to over 50,000 cubic feet per second, causing a statewide emergency, people evacuating their homes, and even leaving some in isolation.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) named this historic flood the “500-year flood,” with 7.5 to 9.5 inches of combined rain and snowmelt making its ways into Montana rivers in under 24 hours. This year, we connected back with Sam Rogers out of Angler’s West Fly Shop to learn more about the flood, what happened, and where we currently sit moving into the summer of 2023.
Last year Rogers claimed, “Last evening, the Yellowstone River and other surrounding rivers doubled in volume, and even tripled by intense rainfall in Yellowstone National Park. The result is what the USGS claims to be a 500-year flood. Flows broke 50,000 CFS on the Yellowstone River this morning for the first time in recorded history.”
“Tom Miner Basin bridge was ripped from the towers around 9 am this morning, and many homes, ranches, and properties were flooded by upwards of 5 feet of water. Businesses and roads in and out of the Paradise Valley are quickly closing too. Several other rivers in the state, The Gallatin, Stillwater, and Rock Creek in the Beartooth Range, are experiencing this extreme flooding. We are under a flood advisory for several more days to come.” A few words from Sam Rogers last year.
Today, we connected back with Sam, who updated us on the current conditions of Montana’s Rivers, specifically the Yellowstone in Paradise Valley. Rogers claimed, “The effects of last year’s catastrophic Yellowstone River flooding were deeply felt within the greater Yellowstone community. Beyond the anglers, guides, and fly shops that call the valley home, restaurants, family lodges, and many other businesses experienced a brutal summer like none other.”
“One year later, the scars of the flood are still showing, but like the river, those of us who live in and love the Paradise Valley are incredibly resilient. The trout are still here, and the fishing is only getting better. While the river has changed significantly in many places, it has been a great and unique challenge to re-learn a river I have spent my entire life on.”
“The valley and towns adjacent are open and eager for business and ready for another summer in paradise. Anglers West Fly Shop is doing much better than last year, and we are off to a killer year. Some of our clients are curious about the quality of fishing, which is warranted, but the fishing and the fish are super resilient. We often say that trout have evolved to handle major water events for millennia. It will take time for things to return to “normal,” but we’re optimistic.
Sean Jansen, an active writer from Flylords Magazine and local guide in Yellowstone National Park, claimed, “I didn’t realize the damage on Monday, June 13th until I witnessed the rivers myself. It’s both a humbling and incredible view to see the power of mother nature, but it is tragic to detect fly shops, guide services, people that have lost their homes, and people like myself.” Check out the report from Sean Jansen and News Nation below.
“It’s truly going to hurt me since the places I love to fly fish and trail run aren’t going to be accessible since the roads are gone. It’s not just Yellowstone that got affected. In all fairness, I think Yellowstone got out relatively easy around southwest Montana. Red Lodge, for example, is one of the smaller towns that witnessed devastating flooding. I remember fishing Rock Creek a year ago, and now the town of Red Lodge is covered in sediment and feet of cobble since Rock Creek’s flows rose exponentially.” Words from Sean Jansen June 2022.
If you are a fishing guide, industry professional, fly shop employee, and were affected from the Montana flooding, be sure to reach out the Guide Relief Program. The Guide Relief program was created during the global COVID-19 crisis to support fishing guides, providing critical information and resources regarding grants, loans, financial relief, and mental health programs.