After enjoying nearly two weeks of balmy spring like weather, we got a mild reminder that it is, in fact, still technically winter here in SW Montana. But the damage to the ice gorge between Varney and town is already done. More and more water is opening up, though still somewhat challenging to access. Heavy and massive ice sheets still blanket the river valley so use extreme caution when walking over or around it to reach the water. A big chunk collapsed under me near 8 mile and although I escaped with only minor scrapes to my hands when falling, it was a scary reminder to be very careful where you step.
Madison River Fishing Report
It's been an incredibly spring-like February so far. We've seen the mid-50's a few times this week and the ice gorge is quickly breaking up between Varney and Ennis Lake. The water just looked too sexy this week to ignore any longer and we just had to float it. But with 8 Mile, Burnt Tree, and Ennis ramps still locked in ice, drift boats were out of the question.
The recent warm spell has a lot of anglers scrounging around their garages and closets searching for rod tubes and tippet. It's also led to an increase in phone calls to the shop requesting up to date information on which boat ramps are useable on the Madison right now. And in a winter where we've had a significant ice gorge along with plenty of snow and wind, it's a wise man who stops to consider these conditions before departing for the river. Legally speaking, they are all "open" however Mother Nature has rendered several of them unusable right now. Here’s an update on the Upper Madison:
It’s been in the 40's and raining here in Ennis causing things to get pretty sloppy around town. There are concurrent active warnings for flooding and avalanches locally right now.
There is no doubt that S.W. Montana has been firmly in the grip of Old Man Winter for the past month or more, and many of us have taken a little hiatus from our fly fishing lifestyles. Temperatures have been well below zero many days, and the Madison River near Ennis has been locked up in the gorge for about 3 weeks now. The high-country snowpack is looking good, but it’s much too early to declare victory on that front.