Saturday, May 19 marks the official opening of Montana’s fishing season, but early flooding is making a mess for anglers around the area.

Information and Education Program Manager for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Vivaca Crowser said fishing Missoula’s rivers and streams will be impossible for quite some time.

“It certainly looks different out there this year,” began Crowser. “We always have spring high water in some point or another, but having this extreme high water and flood conditions coincide with the opening is unlike what we’ve seen in a long time. So, it really means that fishing is not good and not safe in most cases on the rivers and the streams are even blown out, so even hiking way up and finding a side stream may not be very successful quite yet.”

Crowser said the high waters have even affected area lakes.

“What’s really unusual is that lakes and reservoirs are open year-round, but even a few of our lakes that people like to go to actually have limited access due to flooding, as well,” she said. “In particular at Salmon and Placid Lakes the boat ramps aren’t accessible yet, so you can get into the park, you can walk along the shore, but you can’t put your boat in, but we’re hoping those conditions change by Memorial Day weekend.”

Crowser said Flathead Lake is a good alternative for western Montana fishermen.

“You could also go to Lake Mary Ronan, or many of our other lakes, it’s really just Salmon and Placid Lakes that have that unusual situation right now,” she said.

Crowser said anyone walking or recreating near western Montana rivers and streams should use extreme caution.

“Even if you’re just walking along the shoreline, just walking the dog, give yourself some extra distance because even the banks have been undercut by the high water and can be really dangerous,” she said. “Have life jackets on, not just with you and that’s especially important right now.”

Crowser also reminds fishermen that new licenses were issued on March 1, so licenses must be renewed, as well as having the proper license for fishing on the reservation.