Streamer Fishing the Madison

Being a self diagnosed streamer addict, I was eager to get
up to Ennis and throw big streamers for browns.
Hailing from Colorado, Montana was known as the streamer fishing
mecca.  I’d hear stories and see pictures
of prehistoric brown trout being landed with 5 inches of rabbit, schlapen and
marabou hanging from his mouth.  I spent
all winter tying big bugs and put together a solid inventory of streamers.  Upon arrival in early March, I set out on the
Madison in search of trophy browns.  The
streamer bite was off and I went back to nymphing.  Though I’m not the biggest fan of nymphing,
it is a productive way to get into fish and honestly I was itching to land some trout.  Over the course of a couple weeks
the deep dark world of nymph fishing proved it productivity.  To my surprise the only fish I was landing
were rainbows.  If I didn’t know better,
I would have thought the Madison was predominately a rainbow trout fishery.  Don’t get me wrong, a love a good bow to the net
but I was searching for the large aggressive browns that I kept hearing

This past week working in the
shop I saw a picture of 28” brown that destroyed a sex dungeon.  You can imagine how hard it was for me to contain myself and stay in the shop and not go fishing.  For those of you asking what the heck a sex
dungeon is, don’t let your mind wonder too far, it’s one of the best streamer
patterns in the game.  This one happened
to be extra large and while I’m creating receiving vouchers for the shirts we
just got in my mind was in a totally different place.  I was focused on one thing, how glorious that
strike, fight and release of that 28” fish must have been.  I should probably start day dreaming more
often given the fact I got the shirts tagged, priced and put on hangers faster
than I could rig my rod.  John might read
this and cringe, but I promise they were all done properly.  Anyways, I was able to get out for a couple
hours last night so I drove to a stretch that I knew would produce some early
evening fish.  Had the nymph rig set up
and I didn’t feel like changing it out so I started with that.

Expecting to get into fish right away, I was
left standing on the bank puzzled as to where all the fish went.  I’m sure they were still in the exact spot I
left them a few days prior but they wanted absolutely nothing to do with what I
was feeding them.  Sun started to set and
figured why not throw on my streamer and give that a shot.  A few cast later I finally felt that tug I so
desperately wanted.  I set so hard I ripped
this little 4-inch fish out the water.  My
streamer was every bit of 3 maybe 4 inches and why this little bow thought
eating that was a good idea is anyones guess.
I came upon a small hole that looked fishy; and it was.  As soon as my fly hit the water I watched two
browns race for the streamer.
Anticipating a strike, I ripped the 3 inches of meat out of this fish’s
mouth.  I casted again and the same thing
happened.  And yes I ripped this one out
as well.  A third cast yielded only one
fish to move and he followed it all the way back the bank where he decided it
looked good enough to eat.  It was a nice
brown, not a prehistoric brute, but a nice fish. Played it for a good bit,
almost got her in the net until she decided to turn into some cover and
subsequently spit the hook.  Called it
day after that but was left amazed with how those brown reacted to my

I’m not really sure where I
was going with this story, just that it has been all I can think about this
morning so I decided to write about.  I
know I was running my streamer by rainbows but not one of them even
budged.  Its like they were blind to
it.  The browns however were not blind to
it and instead they took it as a big meaty pre-dinner snack.  I just goes to show how protein hungry brown
trout are.  Yes, they are more aggressive
and ruthless, but they hunt down that streamer like they haven’t eating in
weeks.  Fighting each other to see who
gets the snack.  Brown trout amaze
me.  They will forever be my favorite
trout to fish for.

Fishing Reports and Trips

  • Fishing Reports

  • Want to know the most up-to-date information to find where the fish are biting? The Tackle Shop Fishing Reports provide you with a comprehensive look at current water conditions, recent hatches and flow data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

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  • Float Trips

  • The Tackle Shop offers a range of full-day and half-day float trips in the Madison River Valley area. The trips are all-inclusive and cover files, rods, reels, waders and boots. Leave your worries behind and let us give you the fly fishing trip of a lifetime.

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  • Enjoy one of our full-day or half-day walk and wade trips for a more immersive, slower-paced fly fishing experience. The Tackle Shop will cater to your individual needs so you are able to take in the sights and sounds of the best waters in Montana.

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