Madison River Report - July 20, 2023

Madison River Report - July 20, 2023

MADISON RIVER FLOWS - this past week has seen a slight increase in flows at Hegben and below due to pulse flows.  These pulse flows are to keep Ennis lake full and allow for flows below Ennis Lake to remain high and steady, which helps protect the trout on the Lower Madison from increasing river temps at lower elevations.  As we head into this next week’s (and likely the next several weeks) hot temps, please remember that while some rivers around the great State of Montana are getting warm, the Upper Madison is staying cooler than most and it has a high amount of dissolved oxygen.

Below Hebgen- 1130 cfs

Kirby- 1280 cfs

Varney- 1520 cfs

BETWEEN THE LAKES- 

Here locally, the chilly morning temps have continued to keep the Madison below Hebgen Dam nice and cold.  There are fish looking up for all kinds of different bugs -  caddis, mayflies, craneflies and stone flies are all hatching on a daily basis.  It’s been pretty busy down there, so make sure to treat other anglers with respect and give them plenty of room to fish. 

A Corn-fed Caddis, Jojo’s Chubinator, Iron-X Caddis, Iris Caddis, Jojo’s PMD, Copenhaver Rusty Spinner or Heames PMD Klinkhammer, Jojo’s Green Drake, Jojo’s Parashuck Flav and micro-chubbies will bring fish to the surface. Dropping off a Hare&Copper caddis, olive Bullet Quill, or a soft hackle PT from a Chubby is always a great option if things aren’t working out for you on the dry fly front.

WADE SECTION- 

This won’t change much from last week…except that the big bugs aren’t around anymore.  There could be a random salmonfly or golden that didn’t get the memo and has decided to hatch late. But read on…

Knot on a single dry fly, take off walking to your favorite haunt and start prospecting the banks and the slicks.  Why a single dry fly, you might ask?  Well, one dry is easier to drift drag free, which is THE most important part of dry fly fishing.  One dry fly is easier to cast in the wind.  One fly is easier to track on the water.  When and if you hook that willow twelve feet up in the air, losing one fly feels better than losing two.  As the fish get smarter this season, fish a single dry fly for possibly a little more success.

If you find yourself unable to raise a fish or two, you should find some pocket water, sit down and observe your surroundings.  Look for caddis bouncing in the slicks, maylfies emerging from slicks, or the morning/evening dance of a mayfly spinner fall. Take a headlamp and fish till dark, sunsets on the Madison right now have been splendid.  Did you bring any ants along? How about a small hopper?  We are getting to that time of the year, so don’t forgot your terrestrial box! Midges are also important this time of the year, a small zebra dropped off a #12 Chubby should produce some good fishing.

A Corn-fed Caddis, Jojo’s Chubinator, Iron-X Caddis, Jojo’s Comparabuzz, Iris Caddis, Jojo’s PMD, Jojo’s Rusty, Jojo’s Green Drake, Copenhaver Rusty Spinner, Heames PMD Klinkhammer, , various Chubbies, will bring fish to the surface.  As for those sub surface flies – nymph em’ up with the following:  Shop Vac, Olive Guide Dip, Juju Baetis, Olive Bullet Quill, Hot Spot Quills of various colors, Zebra midges, soft hackle PT, soft hackle Hare’s Ear, Hare and Copper. The list goes on, but one thing that is important is to get your nymphs down quickly and set the hook on anything remotely fishy.

FLOAT SECTION- 

Salmonflies and Goldens are gone folks, it was short lived and not a very good hatch this year.  While we are not sure why, we do know that nothing is for certain in the out of doors, so take it for what it’s worth and start fishing smaller dry flies – there is always next year. The most consistent dry fly fishing has been with caddis, PMDs, Flavs and Ant patterns.  A Corn-fed Caddis, Jojo’s Chubinator, Iron-X Caddis, Iris Caddis, Jojo’s PMD, Copenhaver Rusty Spinner, Jojo’s Royal Ant, Hoovies Cripple Ant or Heames PMD Klinkhammer will bring fish to the surface.  We have a great selection of micro-chubbies (#12-#16) at the shop, don’t overlook these attractor patterns this time of the year when searching for feeding trout.

If you want to or need to nymph, we like the following choices - Copper Duracells, Shop Vacs, olive perdigons, CDC pheasant tails, PMD Frenchie, Olive AZ Hares Ear, Rubber legs, black Zebra Midges and the various Spanish Bullet Quill are all solid options to fish under a bobber or dropped off a large Chubby.

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Madison River

Perhaps the most prominent fishing destination in the area, the Madison River is also one of the most diverse fisheries in the western US, with multiple sections split based on geography and topography.

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