Hebgen dam 1030 cfs
Old Kirby Place 1130 cfs
Varney Bridge 1270 cfs
Lower Madison River 1470 cfs
I have found it difficult to write river reports during these times. For one; I am not fishing nearly as much was I would like. Two; with no work and cancellations into June it is hard to justify the expenditure for research on the rivers and lakes when we do not know when we will be able to take trips again. Third; it seems a little silly to write about the current fishing at at time when things still seem very uncertain. Unfortunately this isn’t a paid vacation for many of us and surviving and staying operational through the 2020 summer and into the 2021 season is a top priority. That may mean that I don’t get to do as much research (read fishing) as I would like but after 20 years of trying to learn the Madison River I still have a handle on what she’s up to currently.
On that note I did get a chance to float (by myself) on Sunday afternoon 4/19. It looked like a good day to possibly find some Blue Winged Olives hatching, maybe a March Brown or two and try and find some Skwalla Stoneflies. Two of the three happened. I saw BWOs and Skwallas but no March Browns. This time of year I try and cherry pick the days that from a weather standpoint actually look terrible. Overcast, rainy, low pressure days that follow a warm spell can be some of the best for the early spring hatches of Blue Wings and March Browns. Throw in some Skwalla stones and we have the makings for the beginning of our dryfly season here on the Madison River. It is not the end of nymph fishing for the season but it does give us the option of fishing it under dries now instead of indicators. As a die hard dry fly angler I wait all fall and winter for this time of year to come around. It is finally here and the bugs are showing up on time as well.
I fished a mini chubby pattern and small para wulff most of the day and was able to raise a fair number of fish to the dry. Some on blind casts to likely water and some to rising fish working midges and the occasional Blue Wing floating down the river. I found that it wasn’t too difficult to find risers and fish willing feed on the surface. Although fish where mainly feeding on Midges and little mayflies the small stonefly was the best at getting larger fish to rise. Look for some early caddis with the warm spell and as we get closer to the first week of May.
Montana snow pack for the area is still very good at around 100 percent of normal and little lower than normal precipitation for the year. With warming days and some rain in the late week forecast its about that time when we can start to see the very first influences of the spring melt. Moores Creek across from the house has already started to color a little bit. As low snow melts it will bring a little color to river. I’m not talking full blown run off, just the same thing we always see over the coming weeks around this time of year, just the beginning. I for one like a little color as it means I can fish stonefly dries to 2x tippet or 1x and we like that. If I have learned anything about runoff and the spring melt it is to go with the flow and the fluctuations and in July we will know how it happened. Until then we are along for the ride. Like years past we will see some great fishing up too, through the melt. It is just a matter of where to look for it.
Talking operations and closures. We are still closed to outfitting until at the minimum April 24th. Thats the expiration of the Governors “Stay at Home” orders. Madison County has us closed until the end of the Month and so in theory we can begin limited operations on May 1st. This could change and as of now we don’t know if we will be included in the easing back to work. There is obviously some concern about a wave of out of state visitors flocking to the area as things ease. I don’t believe we will see a tidal wave of visitors the day things open. Both FOAM and MOGA have been putting together great information on how we can safely take those anglers whom are already here and have finished or completed their quarantine as well as guidance on how to safely assess and take customers fishing as they arrive over the next several months. Most of all of these recommendations will likely become standard practice over the coming months. Anyone concerned about the risk of fishing with an outfitter as restrictions ease is encouraged to contact us to get more details about what we are doing to ensure your safety, ours and the safety of the community at large as we begin to restart.
Thank you for tuning in and until next time…
Keep your tip up!