Hebgen Dam 1790cfs
Old Kirby Place 1890cfs
Varney Bridge 2150cfs
Lower Madison 2110cfs
May 1st is officially in the books and although Old Man Winter can not decide if he is done with us yet, the spring fishing has been fair to great most days and his grip on us is slowing loosening. True to the Madison Rivers spring form she has been waking up and transitioning from a winter fishery to a true spring and early summer fishery. This means fish are spreading out in the system a bit more than they would during the coldest months. What this means to the angler is that more fish are to be found in faster moving riffles, shallower transitions, small buckets, sides of rocks, fronts of rocks and many more places. Although fish can still be found concentrated in deep runs and holes these are not the only places to find them as we move further away from winter.
Going hand in hand with this is the first emergence of bugs that are not midges. Nothing against midges and I don’t mean wire worms and eggs. Although they work they are not technically bugs. They are flies, in the sense that they get tied on the end of a fly line and leader, although that is debatable depending on whose definition of a “fly” we are talking about. Thats a debate and discussion for another generation. I fish them both so I am not one to judge. Getting back to the bug thing. BWOs or Baetis showed up right on time on the stretch of Madison up from Ennis around the 20th of April. We will continue to see them through runoff and into the end of spring and early summer. There are still lots of Midges. Although not know for it Skwala stones are also on the menu as well. I caught several fish on both BWO dries and a larger skwala stonefly the other day. The fish may not have been much to brag about but it signifies the beginning (sort of) the dry fly season. Officially that kicks off in June as everyday thing but some great dry fly fishing days come in small windows throughout the spring.
Speaking of midges, one of the better fish taken in the last couple days was on a 16 Olive Zebra Midge. It was a 19 inch brown trout that ate at the shallow leading edge of a bucket and several more smaller fish came after.
I have had several good streamer bites out there but larger stonefly nymphs are still out fishing just about everything else for me lately. Although I would say thats been the case for almost 20 years now. After all it is a freestone river with lots of stoneflies. The materials and the names have changed but its hard to beat a Girdle Bug trailed by any of the above listed flies. Even the ones that may not be flies. I will generally put generic trailers like eggs and worms on but when there are bugs hatching fish will key in on them and I will make the switch to more impressionistic flies. Many of these smaller flies will work well under a dry fly this time of year. Its a wonderful time to start ditching the bobber for a dry fly on occasion.
There are still many rainbow trout in all stages of their spawning cycle so pleas be mindful of reads or cleared out gravel areas as these are the places that eggs are laid. Try not to anchor or walk though them and if you see trout on shallower gravel fanning the bottom or darting around leave them be as they are trying to make more trout for you to enjoy. It can be hard to not make the cast at that fish but please resist the urge and let it spawn. Fish a nearby drop off or hole and you’ll find others that are not actively spawning.
Next update will be from Fort Peck reservoir as I head to central Montana in search of a 40 inch Pike. I will let you know what I find.
Keep your tip up!