The First Report
2017 is going to be a great year for angling in the Kootenays. Our slightly above average snow pack this past winter will ensure good water levels and delay forest fire season significantly in our area. A few days on the river before closure on March 31st produced some nice healthy Cutthroat and Bull Trout so it appears they over wintered well. The biggest challenges we will face this season is taking care of all those great clients who fish with us. We do have all of our guides back for another year (aside form Aaron who stayed up north Steelhead guiding) but with the great exchange rate bookings for your favorite guide are up significantly over last year. This demand will likely leave some disappointed and unfortunately with limited rod days available, it is beyond our control. Once all our guide days are all sold we will still be able to accommodate those Anglers who are flexible and adventurous and willing to go off the beaten track to try some other waters. Other than that, the Fly Shop is fully stocked and the exchange rate makes it advantageous for our US clients. We also have some great gear on sale. Below is a detailed stream-flow analysis from our River Forecast Center for those who are anxious to know when the best time to start angling in the Kootenays. Right now we are hoping for the last week of June for good Drift-able water. However, this year has been tough to predict with a slow start to spring and some rain and cooler weather in the forecast in the next week. If you are traveling long distances I would delay until the first week of July at the least. If you are in close driving range stay posted as when water levels drop, the stone flies will explode and you will want to be on the Elk!! Feel free to call the shop for more details. We look forward to seeing you this 2017 season!
Paul, Leah, Jess and all the Elk River Guides.
Detailed analysis (edited to reflect the East Kootenay as best as possible)
In general rapid snow melt over the past few weeks led to declining snow basin index values since May 15th. This is a general indication that snowmelt has been more rapid than normal over the past few weeks, as would be expected given the extreme temperatures. June 1st snow basin indices are best viewed in terms of how the melt season is progressing rather than identifying specific on-going flood risks; very low or very high June 1st indices can result from accelerated melt or delayed melt.
On-going wet weather, high snow packs, extreme hot temperatures and rapid snow melt have all contributed to very high freshet flows this season, particularly in southern BC. Many areas are still experiencing above normal flows for early-June. Inflows into lake systems has been both early, and higher than normal volume, leading to lake levels, particularly in southern BC, seeing extremely high levels for early-June.
On smaller rivers and tributaries flowing from mid-elevation areas (primarily below 1600m), flows have been slowly declining over the past week back to normal levels for early-June. In northern BC, the influence of lower seasonal snow packs is becoming evident, as many smaller river systems have transitioned to below-normal flows. In the larger rivers of the province, and in areas with high elevation snow packs, rivers are at bank-full condition and at or near their peak from snow melt driven runoff.
In smaller rivers and tributaries draining mid-elevation watersheds, flood risk from snow melt has peaked, and rivers have returned to more seasonal flows. This includes areas through the Central Interior and South Interior. High June 1st snow basin indices in the Okanagan and Kettle better reflect the high flows and flood conditions that have already occurred rather than being an indication of future risk. Inflows into Okanagan Lake appear to be declining and the risks for future rises in inflow rates and lake levels will be mainly driven by rainfall. The East Kootenay remaining snowpack is currently at 105% of normal meaning average.
Larger rivers and rivers draining higher elevation terrain are at or near their peak from snowmelt-driven runoff. As a result, rivers are still very sensitive to additional runoff, particularly from rainfall. This includes Shuswap Lake and tributaries, South Thompson River, North Thompson River, Thompson River, Fraser River, and tributaries in the Kootenay and Columbia. Current rain forecast over the next week may lead to higher flows in these rivers than has been experienced so far this year. However the amount of rainfall expected will be hard to predict for specific locations.
Current advisories, warnings, freshet information, hydrometric monitoring, river modelling and snow data are available on the River Forecast Centre website: http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/.
The River Forecast Centre will continue to monitor snowpack conditions and will provide an updated seasonal flood risk forecast in the June 15th, 2017 bulletin, which is scheduled for release on June 22nd.
BC River Forecast Centre (edited)
June 7, 2017