Here are three views of Slough Creek, facing upstream from roughly the same viewpoint shown in my post, Time and Again, IX. The first photo was taken in 1978, the second in 1998, the third in 2023.
The pines that graced the banks of Slough in the 1970s can be seen declining by 1998, and are gone completely by 2023. Floods took some of them out; I don’t know why others have failed to make it.
Rivers are perpetually on the move, and this can be seen in the incising of the corner above the angler in the 1998 picture compared to the 1978 version. In 1978 there was a fair amount of land between the riverbank and the sagebrush covered slope; by 1998 the river was cutting into that slope. There was also a great deal of bank erosion between that spot and the corner where the angler is fishing. The forest on the far right background hill had thinned quite a bit by 1998.
The floods of 2022 wreaked the most dramatic changes on the rivercourse that I’ve seen in my 48 years of fishing Yellowstone. The strip of white bank on the far side of the river in the 2023 picture is the same sagebrush slope where the incising was taking place in 1998. The corner of land behind the fisherman is now completely gone, eroded out and mobilized by last year’s flood. Incredible to see. Streambank was added to the near side last year; this can be seen by the amount of space between the trail and the riverbank compared to the 1978 picture (the trail didn’t move). The forest density on the background hill continued to thin between 1998 and 2023.
The fish habitat in the area of these pictures and those in my previous post has been reduced tremendously. I suspect the fish population has suffered the same loss. I can’t speak yet to other stretches of the lower river as I haven’t had the chance to walk them.