It’s late March….what are you doing?

You should be planning a trip to Montana, or better yet, you should be fishing.

About a week ago, Molly and I bought a house in West Yellowstone…..looks like we’ll be sticking around for awhile.   With a little help from some friends, we are remodeling the place with new paint, wood flooring, a little tile work and the demolition of a wall or two.  The old carpet and lament flooring are gone, the baseboards as well.  A giant hole in the ceiling is looming overhead and drywall dust has coated everything.

The bummer about buying a house in the spring, is that this is one of my favorite times of the year to get out on the river.  Any river will do, but during March and April I enjoy traveling around a little bit to visit places I don’t routinely fish.   Spring in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, while a little wintry from time to time, is so nice.  It’s still winter at 6667 feet, but if one gets off the volcano, there is green grass and dry fly fishing.

Oh well……we are stoked to have our very own place and this spring worked out for just that.  Plus, I enjoy construction when it’s not a full time job.

The Madison Betwix is, of course, fishing pretty well right now, as is the river around Ennis and down through Bear Trap Canyon.   River temps around around Ennis are fluctuating between 38-45 degrees, which is pretty warm compared to the prior several days.  These are temps that get fish moving around, on the bite and feeling frisky for a window of time each day.  Reports on the Missouri are coming in weekly and fishing up there around Craig has been very good and getting better as the river warms up.  Both the Madison and Missouri have solid flows and will continue to get better in the coming weeks.  Dry fly fishing has been decent from time to time, but nymphing is king.  Twitching a sculpin pattern in between swigs of a Bud will produce a trout or two as well.  This is best done while sitting down in the bow of the boat with your feet on gunwale. Twitch….strip in slack…..take a swig……..pause…..repeat.  If they don’t eat it, change colors and try again.

Big Bugs

There are Big Bugs throughout southwest Montana and parts of YNP.   I caught my first trout of the season on Jacklin’s Salmon fly not too far from West Yellowstone… this pattern and Bob still ties them.  There are not cheap, but this fly is hands down, one of the best patterns ever.   Go by and visit Bob and buy some of his Salmonflies.  Take one home and never fish with it.

Rumor has it that there are Big Bugs in Bear Trap Canyon.  The Madison above Ennis lake has dropped some and has been a little on the tough side the past few days – that happens when the river bumps up.  So be it.

June is flying by……are you coming out?  You should.  Next week is gonna be stellar and so will the rest of June on through July.  June just might be the month this season.  Like last year, the Madison has been really good thus far.  With the recent rains (keep praying for more) and hot daytime temps, the tributaries bumped up and put the Madison off for a few days.  It’s still pretty good but it’s quite as good as it was.  That’s fishing for ya.  For those of you who like to wait till the last minute, we do have some openings during the rest of June.

The Henry’s Fork is also an option as we run trips through Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop.  I will be down there later this week as the green drakes are on the cusp of popping!


Been back in Craig, Montana for the past several days.  All is well and the fishing is quite good.   The Dearborn is pushing in some mud, but there still is good visibility down through the Canyon.  Bright sun kinda turned them off late yesterday afternoon around 4 pm, but we still managed a few trout to the net.  March Browns are still hatching……trout really didn’t rise much yesterday, but two days ago the dry fly bite was pretty darn good.

From what I hear back home, the Yellowstone is toast and the Madison is hanging in there.  In one week, the general season Opener will be here and the Madison from Quake to McAtee will open.  Will it stay in shape?  Hard to say at this point as I was told that both Cabin and Beaver Creeks are dumping mud.  The Opener should still be good as I can remember seasons when the Madison opened that had six inches of visibility and the fishing was kick ass.

Madison River Recreation Management Plan Update

I traveled to Helena on Thursday morning for an FWP Commissioners meeting.  The Madison River Recreation CAC presented their suggestions for the MRRM Plan and the commissioners unanimously approved the CAC’s plan.  Step one in this process, is over.  The next step is to gather more information on where anglers are going and so on.  More to come on this topic as it unfolds.

Madison River Report 06.27.2012

Over the past few days the wind on the Madison, actually throughout SW Montana and Eastern Idaho, has been relentless…..30 mph sustained wind and gusting to 50.  What that really means is that my arms are three inches longer from pulling on those damn oars!  The fishing has been pretty good, despite the nasty wind.  Above, is 9 yr old Aidan.  He had never thrown a fly rod before and managed to get this nice 20 inch brown trout on a Bob Jacklin Salmonfly.  This was not his only trout as the youngster learned to cast in the 30 mph wind – with a dry fly, and stuck a bunch of nice fish.  He also learned to nymph as well….his favorite fish on the nymph was an 18 inch Whitefish… are so cool.

If a 9 yr old can learn to cast in gale force winds, then anyone can.  Keep that in mind the next time you’re whining about the wind in Montana.

The salmonflies are now just above Ruby Creek, thick as thieves on those long willow lined banks.  We have been experiencing some of the best hatches of caddis, mayflies and stoneflies I have seen in several years here on the Madison River.  The valley is a bit smokey from the Pony and Beartrap fires and those fires will continue to burn…Google it for some amazing pictures.  The Beartrap fire is 4500 acres and the Pony fire is around 4800 acres.

MRRMP’s CAC is now Official……

Received this notice in the mail box as of this morning.   Why West Yellowstone was left out of the mix is still in question.


Contact: Cheryl Morris, 406-994-6359


BOZEMAN—Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks announced today the seven individuals appointed to serve on the Madison River Citizen Advisory Committee (MCAC). Members of the MCAC will develop recommendations for managing recreation on the Madison River. FWP will prepare a recreation management plan based on the recommendations of the MCAC and input from the public.  FWP anticipates having a draft plan for public review near the end of this year or early 2013.

33 people applied for positions on the MCAC. The seven members, listed below, are a cross-section of the public that recreates on the Madison River and those who are affected by recreation management decisions. The committee members’ interests are diverse and include angling, tubing, boating, nature watching, outfitting, conservation, and tourism.

Name Hometown
Robin Cunningham Gallatin Gateway
Joe Dilschneider Ennis
Joe Fontaine Cameron
Bob Gibson Bozeman
Lee McKenna Helena/Ennis
Philip Naro Bozeman
John Way Ennis

The first meeting of the MCAC is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on May 30at FWP Region 3 Headquarters in Bozeman (1400 S. 19th Avenue). There will be time set aside near the end of the meeting for observers to provide comments to the committee.

For additional information on the Madison River Recreational Plan, please visit the dedicated FWP website at Any questions may be directed to the River Recreation Manager, Cheryl Morris, at 406-994-6359.

Madison River Rec Plan – CAC revealed……

The Madison River Recreation Management Plan has advanced in it’s planning process as of Friday, May 11, 2012.  FOAM announced that the CAC has been chosen, but it looks as if the total number of committee members has shrunk from 12 down to 7.   Throughout the scoping process, FWP touted a committee of 12, yet someone has decided that smaller is better.   There were three worthy applicants from West Yellowstone, myself included, who desired a spot on the Citizen’s Advisory Council.   Unbelievably, the town of West Yellowstone was left off the list by those in charge. I can’t wait to hear why.  What rationale can there be?

The Madison River Recreation Management Plan CAC members:

Robin Cunningham – Gallatin Gateway
John Way – Ennis
Joe Dilschneider – Ennis
Bob Gibson – not sure
Joe Fontaine – not sure
Lee McKenna – not sure
Philip Naro – not sure

The top three are friends of mine and in all honesty, are solid individuals from the outfitting and guiding community.  The other four are new names to me.  Where are they from?  I guess we’ll know shortly.    Hopefully, FWP will release all the names and their origins, of those who applied to the CAC.