Yes, it's been a warm and dry 2015 so far here in the Madison Valley. Not exactly normal, or what we really want. We really want to be skiing knee-deep powder in Feb. and floating on a BIG juicy river in July and August. Right? But where Mother Nature and the weather are concerned you take what you get. Although you can see from the SNOTEL image that much of the state is actually looking pretty good at this point, even though it's been warm everywhere. We also know that it only takes one good storm system with that spring high water equivalent snow to put us right back in the "normal" zone.
So what do you do when it's 55 degrees in February...go fishin naturally. Lot's of the local boys have been out on the water these past few weeks and the reports are pretty solid all things considered. Nymphing is the most productive tactic. MVP patterns include: #10 Girdle Bug in black and brown, #18 Prince, #18-20 BWO nymph like Micro-May, Zebra Midges in black and red, and a $3 Dip. If you want to fish dries, the Beartrap Canyon below the dam and the Reynold's Pass/$3 bridge area are the palces to fish. Midge hatches come off most days and fish will often be found rising. Try #18-20 Parachute Adams and if that doesn't work you can get techy with a Griffiths Gnat or some other true fly patterns.
The Uppper Madison is all still wide open until the end of this month when it closes from Quake Lake to Macatee bridge and from Ennis bridge to Ennis Lake. The whole river will re-open on the 3rd Saturday in May with Montana's General Fishing Season opener. So a few guys have even been floating in the upper reaches although there are some snowy boat ramps to deal with and all those pesky elk all over the banks of the river some days ;-)
The Varney to Ennis stretch is the usualy go-to for Ennis guys. This is the first time in a long long time we can remember the Town, Burnt Tree and 8 Mile boat ramps being free of ice and usable this time of year. They are totally dry. Crazy!
We might pay for it later, but might as well enjoy it when we can.