Hebgen Dam 953 cfs
Old Kirby Place 1030 cfs
Varney Bridge 1140 cfs
Lower Madison 1460 cfs
A lot has happened around the country and around the world since the last time I checked in. Obviously the COVID-19 virus has dictated much of our lives over the past couple of weeks. There are still things that are proceeding normally. That is always a welcome feeling in times of uncertainty.
A few things that have not changed recently include Springs march toward summer. We are still tying flies to fill boxes for the summer. Trout will still eat stoneflies and small nymphs this time of year. Gardens are getting planted and seeds are getting started. Montana gardens are waking up and we will see our first flowers in Montana gardens soon. Some already have a new splash of color from spring flowers and honestly I’m a little jealous of that. My tulips are still a couple weeks away from having flowers. Montana snow pack hasn’t changed much and thats a good thing for trout, farmers and anglers. For folks like myself this hunkering down thing we are doing is fairly routine and by no means a disruption to my daily life. I wish I could say that was true for many others. Unfortunately it is not.
I do not want to list all the things that have changed. I started to do that and began to get a bit depressed so I deleted all of it. Many of you are acutely aware of how much changed and do not need me as reminder. One more reason for this is that we are still in the beginning of this problem in the US and I do not know how much more will change. Likely a lot.
As for the fishing? Honestly, Its has been fairly busy out there. With the many out of school and out of work people right now fishing seems to be the thing to do. It looks a lot like late June on most weekends around the Madison River. Except it is the end of March. Much of the normal fare still works but it will not be surprising if fish wise up to certain things now that fishing pressure has increased significantly. Stonefly nymphs, midges, eggs, worms, and various streamers (some things don’t change) will still be the way to go until we start getting more consistent hatches a little later in the spring. Looking forward to seeing some BWOs, March Browns and Skwallas by mid to late April.
Much like everyone else around here in the guide and outfitter community I have lost all of my late March and April bookings and some into May. This comes as a hit but with broader perspective is not the time that makes or breaks many of us. Is it painful? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No. Our counterparts in the Florida Keys right now have lost the equivalent to our mid June through July. Let that soak in for a minute. Thats 40 to 65 days for many of them. Gone. I am not about to freak out about a dozen or so lost days at this point. I am also starting to see older clients cancel summer trips to err on the side of caution and I can’t blame them as COVID-19 is proving far more lethal for older Humans.
For personal reasons I have to be hyper cautious and so have been following the full quarantine guidance. With people eager to fish I want to thank all those for being patient and waiting a couple weeks to start fishing again. Some of these are summer folks and some are residents but all of them are important to our local economies.
I’m going touch on that last bit some. I am starting to see some “locals” post and otherwise say nasty things about non resident people showing up to stay in their homes and otherwise get away for a bit. Let us not forget that these are the same people that put food on many of our tables. Even you don’t deal with them directly by taking them fishing, serving them food, doing repairs or maintenance on homes that money still flows from my pocket to yours in a small community. Many people understand but ignorance abounds in times like these. Many of these people are our friends and our extended family and as such they should be treated like it. Does that mean we shouldn’t ask people traveling to self quarantine especially if coming from a high risk area? Absolutely not. Honesty and straight talk are needed. I would ask the same of my direct and immediate family at this point. It is what is best for the elderly of this community.
As I do start to take trips again in the future we will be doing our best to minimize transmission of COVID-19 through a wide variety of steps informed by current CDC guidelines. Many of these steps include ways to keep things sanitary and minimize our direct contact with clients. Both outfitting organizations MOGA and FOAM have had good thoughtful ideas on accomplishing this for future trips. It is also good to see this and more good ideas coming from the local fly shops like Madison River Fishing Co. as they have influence over many of our younger guides in the community and many of our non resident local anglers that are starting to show up. Thanks to everyone for being proactive. In addition I want to thank everyone for thinking critically about this and sharing ideas.
I am going to refrain from diving more deeply into rant mode. I can do it, as there is lots to be said. But I will hold my tongue as this is not the place for it. For now.
Don’t forget to thank a store clerk, healthcare workers, truck drivers, farmers and ranchers over the coming weeks. These folks are helping keep food on shelves and on our tables and will fight to keep many Americans alive over the coming months.
Thank you and as always, keep your tip up!