Current Madison River flows:
- Hebgen 942 cfs
- Kirby Ranch 1,030 cfs
- Varney Bridge 1,150 cfs
- Very good at 3-4 feet
Current Madison River flows out of Hebgen have been increased by 10% to make room in Hebgen Lake for the forecasted run-off. Montana Snotel reports that recent storms have enhanced the already good snow pack to 150% of normal and although the flows have increased , visibilty remains excellent as nighttime temperature’s below freezing have kept the river clear and this Upper Madison River fishing report is a very good one.
The Upper Madison River remains closed to fishing from Quake Lake downstream to McAtee Bridge Fishing Access Site (FAS) and again from Ennis FAS downstream to Ennis Lake.
The Upper Madison River is open to fishing between the lakes from Hebgen Dam to Quake Lake. The river is also open to fishing between McAtee Bridge FAS downstrean to Ennis FAS. Although the river is now clear of ice not all the boat ramps are accessible. Varney Bridge FAS has a fair amount of ice blocking the boat ramp making launching a drift boat dicey but possible. Ennis FAS is not accessible because of ice and probably won’t be for a couple of months until the usual spring repairs are made. Eight Mile Ford FAS is completely accessible and Burnt Tree FAS is nearly ice free.
TACTICS AND PATTERNS :
- Nymphing under an indicator will provide the most action. Set you indicator 4-5 above your first fly and tie a dropper off of the bend or the eye of the hook of the first fly to the second fly with 15-20 inches of tippet. Add extra weight above the first fly tippet knot (so it won’t go into orbit!) as needed.
- Stone flies are my ‘go to’ first fly in a two fly nymphing set-up. Rubber- legged patterns like the Pat’s Stone in black or brown #6-10
- Midges and mayfly nymphs are the small winter food forage of choice for trout on the Madison River. Midge larva patterns like Brassies, Zebra Midges in black red or purple. Three Dollar Bridge Serendipities and Copper John’s in #14-18.
- Baetis nymphs in olive #14-18.
- San Jaun Worms and Disco Worms in red wine or pink #8-14
DRY FLIES :
- Trout are rising to midges sporadically on warmer cloudy days. Look for risers in softer winter feeding water on inside edges in tail-outs and in back eddy’s.
- Try a Parachute Adams or Griffith’s Gnat or Cluster Buster #14-18. If your dry fly isn’t responded to favorably try adding a dropper tied 15″ off the bend of the hook. A tungsten Zebra Midge or Snow Shoe Hare Emerger are good choices.
- The streamer bite is improving and again like the dry game, better on warm cloudy days. We are catching trout on a tight line and dead drift. Gripping and ripping it ain’t !
- The Madison is still pre-runoff and very clear so I like to stick with streamers in olive, brown and natural with the exception of white. I like the tried and true Zonker, Mini-Lopp Sculpin. We are also catching trout on Wooley Sculpin’s and Chubby Muffin’s and Stalcup’s Flash Fry. Check my TOP TEN STREAMERS FOR SW MONTANA for a more complete list.
TIPS : Spawning has begun for rainbow trout so if you see patches of bright gravel, watch your step and stay clear! Winter fishing hazards like nabk ice and drifting ice are still present. Always be prepared with appropriate cold weather fishing clothing. If you own studded boots or stream cleats …where them!