Please remember that brown trout have begun their annual spawning run - play these fish (all fish) quickly and release them unharmed. If you must, snap a quick pic and get them back in the water - keep them as wet as humanly possible and limit their exposure to the air and your fishing gloves. Take those gloves off when handling fish! If you notice fish on redds- LEAVE THEM ALONE. These brown trout need all the help they can get.
The winter flows are established and should be set for the coming months. Flows below Hebgen Dam could moved around a tiny bit, but not by much. Flows above the lake will fluctuate due to snow and rain.
West Yellowstone - 480 CFS
Below Hebgen - 825 CFS
Kirby - 875 CFS
Varney - 1100 CFS
BETWEEN THE LAKES
Things are a little dicey outside due to the Winter weather system that rolled on Wednesday. This snow could stick around for bit and the morning temps should keep you at home drinking coffee and waiting for things to warm up. Those single digit overnight temps are definitely gonna cool the river quite a bit this weekend, it might even be sub zero on Saturday morning! Be prepared with streamers, nymphs and dry flies. I would be on the look out for a BWO emergence late in the day once this weather system moves out on Friday - however, those bugs might not show up in big numbers if the weather gets that cold and the river temps drop too much. Don't forget to carry bear spray either, by now, it should just part of one's everyday attire. Did you toss in some hand warmers?
Jojo's BWO, Parachute Adams and BWO Sparkle Duns are great choices for small dry flies. I always carry a standard Pheasant Tail (no bead) this time of the year to be dropped off a Parachute Adams and fished in the shallow riffles or slicks. A #10 black rubber leg, #16 olive hot spot jig, #18 Pheasant tail, #16 serendipities, #16 Shop Vac, #16 black Zebra midges, #16 and #18 Juju Baetis are all great choices for nymphing.
It will feel like Winter this weekend and early next week. If you want to get an early start, don't, your guides will be as frozen as the mountains. However, streamer fishing will keep you warm if you choose to jump out of the toasty truck. I personally like a floating line and a 9ft leader - I will fish a heavy sculpin pattern in the deeper runs or something that doesn't sink too fast and fish the shallower riffles. Depending on the day, the streamers bite might last for several hours or start and stop depending on the bite. Poke around the banks and in the slicks and watch for fish to rise. For me personally, I fish a single dry fly to eliminate drag when wade fishing. Definitely be on the look out for an early/late afternoon BWO emergence for the next week. I always carry a standard Pheasant Tail (no bead) this time of the year to be dropped off a dry fly and fished in the shallow riffles or slicks. Cover water, move quickly and then slow down when you start catching fish and pay attention to the water fish are coming out of. Nymphing has been productive as well with jigs, Shop Vacs, Olive Dips, Zebra midges, Juju Baetis and small rubber legs. Black/Olive BFE, Olive Bouface, Sparkle Minnow, Scuplin Snacks and the Thin Mint are all great streamer patterns.
Floating the river this next week is probably not the best idea. It can get really cold in the Madison Valley when these systems arrive. The last place you want to be when it's snowing and blowing is stuck in a boat on the Madison. If you must, an afternoon float is the best idea and keep it short...the bite has still been day to day or hour by hour, but for those willing to put in the work, the rewards are there. We have been nymphing or stripping streamers during the morning and then just after lunch, switching over to ants or a BWO after lunch. Fishing small dries like the BWO can be difficult at times as these flies are so small (cycle through a new fly once in awhile if need be to help withe floatation) and hit the slicks and edges of the banks, some really nice fish can be taken this time of the year on BWO patterns. Don't be afraid to fish two small nymphs in the shallow water either.
Deep nymphing is always on deck in October and it's been pretty good lately with jigs, Shop Vacs, Olive Dips, Zebra midges, bunny fur flies, Juju Baetis and small rubber legs. Fishing an Olive bouface or Sparkle Minnow in the morning is a good idea. Jojo's BWO, Parachute Adams and BWO Sparkle Duns are great choices for small dry flies. A drag free drift will help immensely, so will hand warmers and a thermos of coffee.