Well, our friendly neighbors to the north are giving us some early season smoke to go along with our increasing temperatures. This of course means that even though we can’t see the mountains, the snow is beginning to dissipate from them and muddy up the Madison. We’re still not in full-blown run off but the water is noticeably high and dirty. Fish can still be caught in these conditions, however set expectations low and hope for quality over quantity.
Heavy flows are forcing fish into slower moving water behind rocks and in big sweeping bends on the river. Hammer the cutbank and fish your flies closer to the bank than you normally would. I know it’s risky and not fun to lose flies, but be dangerous with how close you put it to the bank. If you don’t get a snag or two on the bank you're being too safe. To quote Kenny Rogers, “you want to be right up in the danger zone!”.
Nymphing and streamers are going to be the way to go even though caddis are around. Fish have been reluctant with keying on them above the surface due to the lack of visibility. Try large dark girdle bugs, mega princes, warbirds, and buggers for the top nymph. In regards to your trailers, I like caddis nymphs, worms, or my personal favorite, the chartreuse psycho prince. For streamers try a large black or olive bug that pushes a lot of water. Even though the water clarity is bad, fish can still find your fly thanks to an awesome feature called the lateral line system which allows them to detect movement and vibration around them. Don’t let the smoke and mud discourage you even if fishing is not that great - a bad day on the river beats a good day at the office every time.
Rainbow trout are spawning right now so please be mindful of where you're stepping in the river. We're in the midst of our annual Fly SALE. Checkout our SALE flies here for killer deals on your favorite patterns. If you're interested in what the river looks like here in town, give the live cam a gander below!
- MRFC Guide Tyler DiMeola