Madison River Condition
The Madison River is holding strong with good flows. The current flow at Kirby is 1360 CFS and at Varney is 1540 CFS. The real information is the water temps. We are seeing temps reach around 64 degrees mid afternoon. While most of the rest of the fly fishing world in Montana is going to Hoot owl restrictions the Madison at least the upper is good for now. All of our guide trips are starting early and getting off the river about 2-3 so we rest the fish when the water is the warmest. Please do not stress the fish by fishing when the temps get above 67 degrees. Carry a thermometer and check it often. While we have some cooler weather in the next 10 day forecast that will help a bunch we should be watching this for the next month or so.
Dry Fly Game
You can still get it done with dry flies. We are seeing caddis and PMD river wide. The size has gotten smaller with a 16 being the standard. There are nocturnal stone fly shucks river wide and some folks are getting some love on the big stone fly early in the morning. Remember the nocturnal stones are flightless and move around mostly at night so early morning is the best time to fish them. Chubbies with grey to tan bodies are the ticket. Also try the water walker.
The hopper game is just getting going. Go out and try to find hoppers along the bank? It will take you a while. With all the moisture we have had the grass is green in a lot of places not just the river bank. Lots of places for hoppers to hide, eat and be happy and not be trout food. Will this change as things dry out more? We think so and the hopper game will get better. Stay tuned and keep fishing it. Some big dogs are looking for it and who knows.
The safe play is a caddis and may fly combo. We like the X caddis and find a may fly that will stay floating in the shop. Go old school as the fish have seen every parachute under the sun. Hint some guides are fishing old school stuff like H&L variants , Ausable Wulffs and the like. Get creative.
SubSurface Game is Strong
Bobber lobbers are gettin it done. Think tiny caddis nymphs and techie may fly stuff. I always remember when things get tough on the Madison River that this is a tailwater. Bring your tail water game. Jig stuff and small prince nymphs are keeping folks bent every day. Solve the techno jig puzzle for the day and you will be rewarded. We are having to scale down our tippet size. Think tailwater again. We are also seeing a bunch of guides scale down the bobber size. Fish are getting accustomed to looking for bobbers and knowing that spells danger. We like the pinch on indicators. Small light and techie. Especially for short leash nymph fishing.
There are some folks finding some big dog fish on streamers. We have been having the best luck on natural sculpin patterns fished dead drift. Throw them under the pinch on indicator. Even if the indicator goes under water a little it is OK. Try something new and you might just be rewarded.