Hebgen Dam 663 cfs
Old Kirby Place 1050 cfs
Varney Bridge 1700 cfs
Lower Madison 2550 cfs (this gauge hasn’t had fresh reading in two days)
Both he Upper and Lower Madison rivers have seen drastically improving conditions over the past several days. Turbidity is decreasing along with the flow decrease. We have three plus feet of visibility on the section of River down for on Lyons Bridge. Below Varney Bridge it’s between two and three feet of visibility. These trends will continue to happen until it levels off. The upper Madison River gauge near Kirby will be the first with Varney Bridge to follow as the creeks recede toward normal flows. It’s been great to be out there the last several days because with those conditions we are also starting to see prolific insect hatches. Several species of caddis, PMDs, and smattering of other mayflies and small stoneflies are hatching. This has started to get some (very nice) fish looking upwards to eat a dry fly. It’s why we wake up in the morning. The fishing in the morning has been great with caddis emergers and PMD nymphs behind stoneflies or under dry flies to mimic large caddis. The evening caddis bite is just starting to turn on. I have seen and caught more fish on dries the last couple of days.
That burning question for this time of year remains. “Where are the salmonflies?” They’re not quite out yet. I’ve spotted a couple on the Madison up river of Ennis, Montana but those have been in the beaks of robins. There are lots of nymphs staged close to shore in very shallow water on what I like to call “good stonefly banks”. It pays to know some these by heart. It won’t be long now. Are you ready? With flows dropping the big bugs will have to make their move for emergence.
Everyone is waiting for it. Biding our time catching fish on caddis dries and nymphs. Fishing stonefly nymphs under large dries hoping for the early rise. Which there are some. Even the birds are pecking and poking around. The robins are looking. The grackles and the various blackbirds are looking. The terns and gulls have showed up from far off oceans. All ready and waiting to take place in the great emergence. To feed. They are ready. Anglers are starting to show up as well. Making similar yearly migrations as the birds to partake in the great salmonfly hatch. All likely ready. Are you?
I’ll be hard pressed to be torn away from the upper Madison for a while. Hope to see you out there.
Montana Fish Man