We are approaching peak run-off on the Fifty-Mile Riffle. Northwestern Energy is planning to gradually increase releases from Hebgen Dam beginning May 26, and maintain a flow of 3500 cfs at the Kirby Ranch Stream gauge through the end of the month.
After a terrific snowpack last winter, we are glad to see flushing flows return to the Madison this Spring. Much like the Spring Freshet that was executed on the Henry’s Fork last month, this large volume of water will transport fine sediment downstream, enhancing habitat for spawning trout and aquatic insects.
As of May 24, the Carrot Basin Snotel Site in the Madison Range is measuring 42 inches of snow remaining on the ground with a Snow Water Equivalent of 20 inches. Warmer weather over the last few days has slightly accelerated the melt with snowpack dropping 3 inches per day for the last two days. Previously, decreases had been 2 inches per day for about a week. With slightly cooler conditions forecasted, we may see the rate drop back down to -2 inches per day.
Carrot Basin is a great indicator of the size and timing of run-off on the Madison River as it is a good representation of the snowpack in the southern Madison range, and drains into Cabin Creek and eventually the Madison just below Hebgen Dam. When the snowpack is gone in Carrot Basin, the river between the lakes will run clear.
Despite 3,000+ cfs flows, there is still some fun to be had for the adventurous angler on the Madison below Quake Lake. Big water will push fish tight to the banks, or even into the grass in some places. Nymph fishing with large stonefly nymphs, sometimes in tandem, or streamer fishing in these zones can be a blast. There’s no need to wade deep when fish are in close. So, play it safe and keep your wading to a minimum.
To keep an eye on Madison River flows CLICK HERE.