October has continued to haunt us with unfathomably warm weather, which has held the Madison back from its explosive fishing potential but do not fret. After weeks of all of us at Big Sky Angler’s praying to the fishing gods for just a hint of better fall fishing juju, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel in next week’s weather forecast (and we mean it this time). While recent warm temps have kept fish practically superglued to the bottom of the Madison, consistent cold temps coming in are bound to pull up these tricky fish. Flows are staying low and slow this time of year, sticking around 650 below Hebgen, 750 at Kirby, 960 at Varney. With less water pushing through this time of year, you can expect fish to be stacked up closer together, so be sure to cover enough water to find those holding spots.
If you’re going for quantity over quality, nymphing will be your best option. This time of year, I look towards old-standby flies I know a fish can’t resist in the event of it drifting drag-free downstream right in front of their noses. Those flies include Olive Bullet Quills, Tungsten Jig Hares Ears, Pheasant Tail Cocktail Nymphs, or CDC Beadhead Pheasant Tails (#14-18). Pairing any of these beadheads with a size 10 Pat’s Rubber Leg above it is a recipe for a fishing miracle.
To those committing to the streamer game, I would suggest also sticking to the basics and throwing simple leeches and baitfish patterns with decent weight that will get you deeper in the water column where the fish are hunkering down and right where you need to be. Olive or Copper Zonkers, Peanut Envys, or Boufaces would be my top picks on streamers. Whether using a floating or sinking line, I would experiment with your retrieval speed and make sure to be casting into your deepest pools and pockets. Keep crossing your fingers and toes for next week’s weather to stay the way it’s looking, and get ready to hook into your next big fish.