Lots of smoke hanging in and around Yellowstone National Park and southwest Montana.  Sunrise (above) this morning was red…..red skies in the morning – sailors take warning.   A new fire lit up yesterday afternoon not too far from town and inside the boundaries of YNP.   Looked to be somewhere in the backcountry towards Norris Geyser Basin.  The big fire on the Salmon River in Idaho has reached 80+K acres and is burning strong.  Smoke is filtering over to the Madison Valley….it stinks…..it’s thick and my voice is raspy.

Mother Nature is helping us out in a big way this season.  While is has been hot, dry and smokey; just about the time it gets damn hot, a cool spell arrives.  This morning’s temp was 32 degrees and the north wind has be prevalent for over a week now blowing in the cooler air.  Flying ants arrived around Ennis last week and this evening I ran into a hatch around Windy Point.  In a matter of seconds, my windshield was pounded by the big female ants…….you can see a few on the license plate below.

August has fished better than expected, but last weeks hot temps made the afternoon tough in the float stretch. The morning bite has been the best and when the sun isn’t blasting the river, it’s actually pretty darn good out there all day long…a little spotty, but good none the less.  If the cool weather continues, the Madison should have some great fishing through September.  I floated from Mac to Varney today and we had solid nymphing on girdle bugs, pheasant tails, soft hackle lightning bugs and psycho princes.  It slowed up a bit in the afternoon – you should expect it, but please take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves.  Yes, it’s hard to concentrate in the afternoons, after lunch with a spotty bite.  But when a fish eats your fly, SET THE HOOK. and don’t get caught zoning out on the fifty mile riffle.

At some point in September, the river should bump back up and then things could get really interesting on the river.  If you are thinking of coming in September, but worried about warm water, the Madison (even with a broken dam) could be one of the best rivers for late summer/early fall angling.  Brown trout are already moving for streamers, the pressure is not that high and the fish are there.

Are you coming out this fall?

You should.