Madison River Flows and Temps

River flows have been up and down a lot this July.  Currently, there is 1250 cfs coming out of Hebgen, which is pretty high.  Looking back to a week ago, the river was flowing just over 800 cfs at Hebgen.  Some folks are asking why so much up and down is needed.  The answer is this: pulsing on the lower Madison decreases the level of Ennis lake and therefore it needs filling for more water to be sent down Bear Trap Canyon to keep the lower river below dangerous temps. This pulsing pattern could go on for the rest of the summer – another four weeks.   Daytime temps are gonna be on the cool side the next several days, so expect the Madison to drop back down once again.   Thunderstorms are also forecasted for the week and this will help keep the Upper Madison (above Ennis) on the cool side.  This morning, at 530 am, the Madison was a chilly 58 degrees at the Lyons boat ramp.  We hit Ruby around 2pm and the temperature was 62 degrees.

Recently, there has been some chatter about the Madison River being closed – THIS IS NOT TRUE.  The LOWER Madison (below Ennis Lake) is under a Hoot Owl closure which means it’s closed to fishing from 2pm to Midnight. The Upper Madison is the section in which books were written about, where trout eat flies with reckless abandon (sometimes – there are no guarantees in fishing ) and the place anglers dream about in their sleep – the entire UPPER MADISON (above Ennis Lake) is open.

The Italians are visiting once again and this week has found us traipsing around Yellowstone National Park and the Madison Valley.  Above, Andrea and Enrico show off a pair Big Brown Trout taken on a well drifted dry fly on the Madison River.   Marco has joined the trip this year, so I got to join my buddy Mike Lum on the float trips down the Madison.  We are up early and off early, putting in a full 8 hour day on the river.  Tomorrow is a day off and then we are back at for three more.  Nocturnal Stones, Wulffs, Trudes, ants and mayfly spinners all fooled trout today, but the bite slowed down around 11 am to a stand still.  Sure, there were still some fish rising after lunch, but the morning was definitely better angling.  When this happens all of us are left scratching our heads.  The flows have stabilized, the river is cool, bugs are around in places and the clouds are hanging in there too…..so what gives?  Why did the bite drop off?  Was it the section of the river?  The time of day?  Big water and fish moving around?  I wish I knew the answer……more beer might help……doubtful though.

Was today a bad day?  Hell no, one just needed to make the most of the pre-lunch action and remember those heart stopping rises to a well placed dry fly floated oh so nice along the bank……let’em eat it!