March is upon us and the Madison Valley is warming up. The last week of February hit us with a cold spell that sealed up our gorge. Please be aware of the gorge when you're floating as it reaches all the way up past 8 mile. Do not float below Varney!! On the other hand, if you are willing to get out on the water the fishing has been pretty good. We have still been nymphing deep slow buckets, rock slicks and switching our tippet to 4x-5x. When you get a warm afternoon you can sometimes get the fish to move around and chase a streamer or eat some midges off of the surface. As of March 4th, the gauge at Cameron is reading around 770 CFS.
The way I like to think about winter fishing is that there aren't a lot of bugs hatching all at once. You need to stick to your basics and that will get the job done. I have only been bringing a puck of flies and some split shot on my winter outings. The most important factor to a successful winter outing is making sure your flies get to the bottom. With that being said, my top bugs at the moment are the meth egg #14, a red or pink worm #10, black or red zebra midge #18, rainbow warrior #18, Pat's rubber leg #4 - #10, Galloup's warbird #8, and Olive crystal dip #16.
Now the stuff we have been waiting for…..Streamer fishing! The streamer bite is on the rise with these warm spells we have been having. The colors that I have had success with are olive and black. I’ve been throwing some smaller articulated streamers and single hook streamers, such as Black or olive mini dungeons, black or olive mini peanut envy, black trevor sculpin, olive mini loop, RIO make it rainbow, and as always, a black wooly bugger.
With a cloudy warmer day you will likely see some midges in the snow and circulating around the banks of the river. Most of the time trout are eating the emergers, but if you see some heads rising these are the flies I would recommend: Griffiths Gnat, #20 Parachute Adams, or a Parachute BWO.
With all that being said, get out there and have some fun. Check the forecast and pick a day that works for you and go catch some fish! Please give us a call for local weather or gorge updates. Tight Lines and Pray for Snow! Looking for some fly tying material to create these patterns? Check out our fly tying collection online or stop by the shop! As temperatures turn frigid, continue to practice your best fish handling techniques. Take advantage of the low foot traffic on the river and get out there to fish! Avoid fish pictures for the gram whenever possible so that we can continue to have healthy fish populations for years to come. Give our Cold Weather Gear collection a gander to ensure that you’ve got the proper warmth to maximize your time out on the water.
- MTS Guide Nicko Opinsky