In spite of the long hard Montana winter and huge snowpack, runoff on the Madison is officially over and the river is looking and fishing great! The Madison peaked right around June 1st, which is incidentally the historical peak of runoff on the upper river. It has basically been dropping ever since, notwithstanding the recent small rain bump over the past few days.
Angler: Nicholas A Peterson
Location: Punta Allen, Quintana Roo, MX
Target: “Grande palometa, once en punto” - Fish of a thousand cast
“100 feet, permit, right to left”
The Madison Valley has finally experienced a few days of 70+ degree weather and sunshine, and while we all have certainly been enjoying it (sunburn and all), it has prompted the beginning of run-off. Levels are up, and the West Fork has been dumping sediment and coloring up the mid-sections of river all the way through town. That being said, there is still good fishing to be had. For those who are not fans of dirty water, head up river to the wade sections around Raynold’s and Three Dollar. You will find the best water conditions there until/unless a big Cabin and Beaver Creek mud plug makes it through Quake Lake.
Quick report on the current state of the Madison. While many other area rivers are blown out, both the Upper and Lower Madison have been hanging tough these past few days and fishing has been decent. The river is up over 2400 CFS at Varney, 2000 at Kirby Ranch and just over 2000 in the Beartrap Canyon. It is still holding its green color though and fish can be caught. The West Fork and Indian Creek are contributing some mud to the Upper river. However all of the other Upper river tributaries above Palisades are running clear.
At long last April is here!! For much of the Eastern U.S. trout season officially opens on April 1st or thereabouts. We are fortunate that we can fish year-round here in Montana. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you would want to. Winter around here can be long and tough as we have been reminded this year. However, in spite of the current cold and snowy conditions spring is starting to show up intermittently and it is definitely fishing season. In fact, we have long considered April 1 to be the official unofficial start to our guide season which now runs through October. So come on. Let’s fish~! Here’s a recent review of what’s happening on the Upper Madison:
Mid-March and although winter is hanging tough, fishing season is here. Warmer temps this past week brought out lots of wading and floating anglers on the Upper and Lower Madison. We’ve heard many solid reports recently, and even had some positive experiences of our own.
The primary tactic this time of year is indicator nymphing. It tends to be the most consistent and produce the most action. Some MVP flies: Black and Tan Turds, Orange Egg patterns, SJ Worms, Zebra Midges, SH Pheasant Tail, and Mega-Prince among others. Just remember, variations on a theme.
Winter is making a stand in Montana these past couple of days. It’s very cold and snowy now which definitely has most of us here thinking more about chairlifts and flats boats than trout fishing.
Unfortunately, due to a mishap on the mountain last weekend my ski season ended early this year. But that just means that fishing season is starting early! With temps rising into the 40s yesterday and light winds I took a drive up-country to try to catch a fish, check the boat ramps and enjoy some Madison Valley winter solitude. It worked out well.
First stop was at Mcatee bridge where I knew I could walk the bank on some easy flat ground. Wading the Madison with a torn ACL and MCL was not advised by my doctor. I was pleasantly surprised to find calm conditions when I arrived. This time of year, it is really all about the wind. A calm 40-degree day is a much warmer and happier experience than 40 and blowing 15 or 20.
Just back from a quick lunch time Varney to Valley Upper Madison boat ramp tour and wanted to post this update.
Due to the lack of prolonged and extreme cold, the gorge didn’t make it very far up the river this winter….yet...and it seems likely that it won’t at this point. But who knows. For now anyway, the river from Varney to town is floatable and fishable on warmer days when it’s not slushy.
It started many years ago without any intent or conscious effort. A couple of trout bums without any better plans decided to go fishing on New Year's Day. Somehow that day has evolved into an 18 year “family” tradition: Fishing the Madison on New Year’s Day in an effort to catch the 1st trout of the new year. I am not the kind of angler or guide who is focused on the scorecard at the end of the day. Most days I actually have no attachment whatsoever to the scorecard. I love fishing for so many other reason besides what I catch. But on New Year’s Day it’s ALL about one fish, no matter how big or small. I give it my best effort to catch one and start the year with success.