Cup fulls

Rain is pelting the metal roof of the house, has been on and off since the sun set.

There was a flash a crack, then a rumble – lightning turned to thunder…is it snowing up high?  Shit, I hope so.

The low tonight in West Yellowstone is 16 degrees, a far cry from the summer like temps we have enjoyed for the past week.  I actually started a fire in wood stove, haven’t had to do that much lately.  More time at the vise is needed, but tonight I cranked out BWOs for an upcoming trip to the Missouri River.   I love the black wing for overcast days and the magic hour before dark.

The weather for the weekend and early next week, all over Montana, is calling for rising fish and streamer fishing.  We are headed north and you, where are you going?

Word has it that the flows out of Hebgen may be dropping here in the next few days.  That would be nice since the Madison Range is sitting at 82% of snow pack all the while the flow is sitting at 1290 cfs……just a little high……the 73 year average for today is 758 cfs.

Madison River Flows: 04.26.2012

at West Yellowstone: 992 cfs

below Hebgen: 1290 cfs

Kirby Ranch: 1760 cfs

Varney Bridge: 2490 cfs

below Ennis Lake: 2810 cfs

Madison River fishing report: Varney to Town

With flows hovering around 1300 cfs, the upper Madison is in super good shape.   Our forecast was for 55 and slightly sunny, with increasing clouds in the afternoon, but the weatherman didn’t get that right at all.  Actually, it blew downstream all day – really hard at times – and never got above 45 degrees.  Forecasting weather this time of the year is for the birds….they never get it right.  Your best bet is to buck up, get your ass off the couch and go fishing.  Weather delays are for baseball….GO CARDS!

Dave came over from Wyoming for his first float trip down the Madison, he wanted to fish streamers so we started out with that.  After moving two fish with one grab, we switched to nymphs and anchored up on one of those classic upper Madison runs….you know the type………anchor dropped in slow dead water, off the tail end of an island with waist deep, flat water but moving at that oh so sexy of a pace about 15 feet from the boat.  It didn’t take long to figure out that the fish were keying on nymphs.  With a rubber leg and various spring droppers, we caught fish in damn near every spot.  The rubber leg did most of the work and at one point we fished just that fly…on 2x, at 6 and half feet.   From time to time we did go back to the streamer, but only landed one rainbow – almost 20 inches – swinging it through a deep pocket.  All the fish were shit hot, jumping three or four times with a couple good long runs.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

This is, hands down, one of my favorite seasons on the Madison River.  We will be running spring trips until the water turns brown from mud, so if you’re interested in fishing this very productive stretch, please give us a shout.  The fishing is only going to get better……and if you can come out during the work week, you might be the only boat on the water, just like yesterday.

Varney to 8

Varney Bridge.

With the help of a good friend, I get to fish today.   He says he’ll row the boat the entire day, but I wouldn’t mind rowing a bit.   Last time I wet a line?  January 18th.   Ya, that is a long time for someone who lives so close to world class fly fishing.  Weatherman says high of 58 and cloudy…..with a chance of rain.  The Madison, this morning, is 39 degrees and should get a little warmer by the afternoon.  Day lefts on crutches – 6. 

Madison River Flows

Below Hebgen – 1050 cfs

Varney Bridge  (Cameron Gauge) – 1260 cfs

Looking downstream from Varney Bridge

 The urge to get out of the house and away from the snow was too strong yesterday.  While actually fishing is still a ways out for me, I just had to go and sit by the river.  Therapeutic it was, but watching trout rise kind of bummed me out.   A 50 foot cast would have reached them, but drag would have set in too quickly.   If you were on the Madison yesterday, I would’ve bet that you cracked em’.  The valley was warm, 45 degrees, and the wind was at bay.  Rarely, does that happen this time of the year when the warmer temps arrive in SW Montana.   Only a handful of driftboats were on the river taking advantage of the lovely weather.  The new stream gauge at Varney Bridge is super nice.  To the best of my memory, there was a gauge here a long time ago and may have been washed out……before my time that is.   1260 cfs is a great spring flow and the boat won’t take a beating.    8 Mile was a little busy with wade fishers, but not like I thought it would be, for a Saturday.  Floating would be my choice. 

The Germans......

The photo above is from Windy Point, right at the ramp.  There is still some snow around the banks, but once we got further downstream, just below Palisades, the banks were almost free of snow.  While this section of the river is closed till May 21st, the dogs love it…..lots of room to roam.    The big eagle’s nest on the other side of the river should be occupied by a few eggs, there was one baldy on the nest which I watched, hopeing to see it’s mate come around and switch out.  Bald Eagles take turns incubating the eggs…..FYI.   

Grass.....wow.....grass.

Bookings for the 2011 season are rolling in.  June is busy early and late, July is almost full, August is filling up, September is so- so and October is suprisingly busy.  When are you coming out?  Can’t decide, you say?  Well, give us a call and we’ll help you.  Never been to Montana in May?  Huge mistake, but we’ll let is slide this time.  Our rivers fish well during the springtime, but avoiding the nasty weather can be tough, but it will make you tough.   Those who love the Fall angling, should come out in the Spring.  Why?  Well, everything looks about the same – snow in the high country, brown grass in the valley, no leaves on trees, cold weather –  but the fish haven’t seen hundreds of anglers.  Hatches you ask?  Of course –  midges, BWOs and even a few stoneflies.  Nymphing is the main game, but casting streamers and dryflies is not out of the question. 

Springtime sunset.

Snowpack

Madison – 118%

Gallatin – 122%

Jefferson – 115%

West Yellowstone – 132%

Rubber Legs

Trout love the rubber legged stonefly.

Stoneflies are a large part of a fishes’ diet year around.   A Rubber Leg Stone Fly Nymph just might be one of the most fished flies on all the freestone rivers in SW Montana.   A versatile pattern, which can be swung off the banks with 2x,  bobbered up  – deep in the Madison River or dropped of the back of a gaint Salmonfly Dry.  We like ours tied on a #6 with lead in variations of black, olive and brown.  Omit tying in the lead for the dropper scenario…much eaiser to cast.  My time at the vice today was spent tying a few dozen of the these and some midge clusters as well. 
 
 

A version of Pat's Rubber Leg.