SnoWhat?! - Winter Life in Montana

SnoWhat? Blog Post

Feb 23, 2021 - Madison River Valley, Montana.


As most of the USA was blanketed in a fresh layer of powder, freezing temperatures, broken pipes and no power the skiers of this country weren’t sleeping. We were laying eyes wide open dreaming of the days to come. What skis am I going to ride? I better get up a half hour earlier so I have time to get even more psyched about the days to come! Did I remember everything? I think I did. I’m shred ready! As one of my true childhood icons and heroes Glen Plake said “Skiing is the best way in the world to waste time.”

Winter is a way of life in the mountains and especially in Montana. An old saying goes in Montana, “There’s 3 months of company and 9 months of Winter.” This is pretty much true. We have and we love winter here in Montana, lots of winter. Now don’t get me wrong it can get really long but in general winter is awesome. The skiing in Montana is world class and we are lucky to call Big Sky Resort our home mountain. A lot of you reading this have visited or even lived up there and for many it’s on a bucket list with some of the best skiing in America. With the super long winters and without the CoVID pandemic, us avid anglers usually try to escape for at least one warm weather trip, saltwater or Southern Hemisphere freshwater, if not more. The Bahamas, Cuba, Florida, Louisiana, Mexico, Christmas Island, Argentina, Bolivia, and New Zealand to name a few that are on my list of favorites and bucket list but as I awake myself from this daydream of casting at 10 pounders on some white sand flat I remember the point of all this babbling. Winter.

Thank God for snow. Snow in our neck of the woods is truly amazing, not only does it provide hours and hours of uninterrupted fun by ripping super fast down a steep incline (Glen’s quote above) it also provides the necessary freshwater supply for our beloved trout and rivers here in Montana. Montana is a little bit different than other states, “April showers bring May flowers” well that doesn’t really happen up here. The saying here should go “April snow brings May snow which brings June snow which hopefully it’ll get warm by July.” The Madison River is blessed with being one of the top controlled rivers on the Missouri River Watershed. With Hebgen Lake having one of the most up river dams on the whole rivershed we are blessed with the controllability of the flow of the river. Even with Hebgen Lake we are still thankful for the moisture that the snow provides, filling up the Madison and Gravelly Ranges, filling up Yellowstone National Park which in turns fills up the Madison River for the fishing season. Snow equals water equals good flows equals cold water equals good fishing.
Theoretically that is. Snowpack also is super important for the wildfires but that’s a whole other daydream that we might touch on in the future aka not winter.

As we close out February and as the rest of the country thaws from the Blizzard of 2021 and as they try and put their lives back together, God help them, all I can think about is more snow. Pray for snow. We need more snow. We’re creeping back the the historical 100% average of the
snow pack but as you can see below our area is still down about 10%.

- MRFC GM/Guide Nick Peterson


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