The past week gave a preview of runoff, only to be chased off quickly by chilly nights and strong North winds. Varney flows briefly touched 1,900 CFS in the early hours of Monday morning and have precipitously dropped since then. Initially fishing was tough during the rising tide and muddy waters as both fish and anglers were quickly removed from their comfort zones. But, what goes up must come down, and the fishing has steadily been improving with the flows tapering off. Water clarity is a nice juicy green color right now, and around 1,370 CFS. Those are some saucy conditions for the Madison. Typical shallow shoals on the river between Eight Mile Ford and Town are now holding just the right amount of water to host healthy numbers of fish river wide, and they’re looking up...Consistent cloudy weather has welcomed the arrival of miniature sailboats in the form of BWOs on the surface film in addition to the caddis that have been around recently. A 9 ½’ 3X or 4X tapered leader to a size 16 parachute adams is about as pure as one can get in the world of fly fishing, and it’s a sure way to get into fish right now with a well placed cast and drift. The Adams has been around for nearly a 100 years, and will probably be fooling fish for another century. Simplicity is a beautiful thing.
Also gaining popularity among those salmonids these days are streamers. It can sometimes take some experimentation with retrieve speeds and techniques, but once you key in on what they want (Black Zonkers & Trevors, Olive Sculpzillas, Complex Twisted Buggers!) and how they want it (slow vs. fast, strip vs. pulls), stick that 7 WT fighting butt right in your gut, crank up that drag, and haul those fish in like a boss. There’s something extremely satisfying about slapping a streamer inches from the bank and stripping right into the corner of a kype jawed brown trout.
There’s an assortment of nymphs that worked this week, some better than others, but more critically important right now is weight and depth. It’s a good time to stock up on Splitshots. With fluctuating flows, often quicker than normal this time of year, the best solution to a slow day might not involve frantically swapping nymphs out, but rather how quickly you can get your offering into the zone. No matter what nymph you choose, it ain’t gonna work if you don’t get it down in the food line. Some good choices this week were: Red Spankers, Coffee/Black Pat’s Rubber Legs, G-String Worms, BH Sparkle Prince, Black BH Delektable Sure Strikes, and any BH Baetis nymph in the 16-18 range. Another note to bring attention to in the nymphing world are the new AirLock Indicators we have at the shop. These indicators are wonderful for allowing ease of adjustment for depth. Go from fishing 2 feet of water to 6? You’re going to need to change your depth, and with a quick twist you can do that with these.