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Thoughts on the Mid-Summer Madison River

Thoughts on the Mid-Summer Madison River

With it now being August it officially marks the mid way point in our season.   It is also the time of year when things are hot, dry and with lower numbers of hatches to keep the fish interested.   The party of June has come and gone and the big bugs are all but gone for another year save a few nocturnal stone fly's.   Here are a few points that I think keep at least me excited to keep going out each and every day.  


First,  the water will cool off each and every day.  It is amazing that even with a little shorter days how much of and effect it has on the fish and water temps.  We have probably already seen the warmest days of the year and somewhere around the middle of August each year the river drops a few degrees and keeps falling.   This cooler water trend keeps the fish happier and on the feed later into the day. That is not to say we will not see some blistering days in August but as a trend the higher water temps are behind us.   


Second, we are slowly seeing less and less people each day on the river. The big push of fisherman is always the second half of June and July.   Once the calendar changes to August the river gets less and less pressure each day.  Also we did see quite a bit of pressure this year because of a few factors.  First, other area rivers had fishing restrictions on them early on.  This drove traffic to the Madison River.   As of now all the restrictions on the Jefferson, Big Hole and Beaverhead Rivers are lifted.  This will disperse some of the boats to these other rivers and make the Madison a little less fished.    Second, most people what to fish in the early summer and plan their vacation around it.    Also, the closer we get to school opening and hunting season there will be less and less people wanting to fish.  This just leaves more room for those of us who do.  


Hopper and Ant Season.   It has been several years since we had a good hopper and ant season on the Madison River.   We are due.   We have also been seeing more hoppers this year than any of the past few.   This bodes well for later in August and September fishing.   Who knows if we will see the perfect storm of hopper activity but it sure is in the making.   


Streamer Season.  Each year about the middle of August the fish get a hankering to eat something big.   There are several factors that push this.   First the less biomass in the river of bugs make the fish switch to larger meals. Second, the small trout and whitefish that have been hiding in the shallows all summer are now a little bigger and bolder and venture into the main current.  There they are easy meals to bigger fish.   The locally famous bunny and a bead starts to become the norm. This is also where we see some of the larger fish each year.  So if your on the Madison and striking out with nymphs and drys try dead drifting a zonker, sculpin or other fishy looking streamer.   


September is coming.  I always say I hope the after life looks like Montana in September.  It is by far the best time to be in Montana.   Cooler water, hungry fish, less people , elk singing in the mountains and great weather make this my favorite time.   We can see this light at the end of the tunnel and it is approaching.   Hang in there during the dog days and September will roll around quick.  


Don't get discouraged during these hot days just go fishing and realize  the best part of the season is still in front of us.   



John Way Posted by John Way

Guide, Outfitter and chief bottle washer for the Tackle Shop.  Recently developing his inter web ninja skills. 

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