Down and Dirty


As I write this, it’s early in the morning and already 50 degrees, sunny, and wait for it…….calm winds. After a long cold winter, we’re soaking up any and all available sun rays right now, especially after the gray, soggy weather this past week. But it's fishing season, and we're all systems go now!

The forecast this week is calling for temperatures consistently in the high 50s, and possibly some rain for the first time in months. I’m trying not to get too excited, as we all know there’s a distinct possibility of a mega blizzard that would crush the springtime spirit. But, there’s undeniably a major change occurring in the weather patterns attempting to usher in Spring. Water levels have also seen a significant change this past week. After nearly 3 months of hovering around 850 CFS, Hebgen Dam outflows jumped to 1,140 CFS in the past 4 days. Both of these changes in environmental conditions are having major implications for your fishing outlook.

More and more water is opening up further downstream from Ennis everyday. While there still seems to be iceblockage at constriction points near Ennis Lake, the Channels Section near Valley Garden is completely open and seeing more fin seeking flat brims and articulated streamers with each passing day. Spring fishing is in the air and it’s exciting to see folks waving their fly rods around on the river again. We’re officially on the board for guide trips now too, as Joe had his first trip of the season this week, and looking forward to many more.

Very soon we ought to start seeing that beautiful sight of BWOs in the air, along with Skwala Stoneflies. For those of you not afraid to get down and dirty, this rainy weather is sure to bring on the first major worm hatch of the season. In fact, worms like the Delektable Soft Hackle Worm, Jakes DB Rib Worm, G-Strings, and Wire Worms have already fooled a few hungry fish. But it’s going next level very soon.

The Sucker Spawn is a new favorite fly this week amongst many Madison anglers, too. Traditionally an effective steelhead pattern, it’s no surprise that it carries over well to trout on the Madison. Hot colors this week were chartreuse, salmon pink, and red. It makes for a deadly pattern combined with your favorite flavor of girdle bug.

But if we’re being truthful here, all this warm, rainy weather has got me hankering to use my 6 and 7 weight stiff sticks with some dirty flies. All you streamer junkies better recognize what time it is. The anticipation of an eat when casting an absurdly obnoxious streamer pattern to an undercut bank in March and April is what dreams are made of. If you cast it, they will come. And they will come HARD. White Sculpzillas were on the menu item for a trout or six this week, which continues a theme we’ve seen on the upper river for a few weeks now: lighter colored streamers being apparently more tasty than the dark right now. So stock up on your bunny fur at the shop, tie on a good loop knot, and hold onto your fighting butt, because streamer season is here!

Photos: Justin Edge
Boat Dog: Porter
Murdered fly: G-String