This past week end was the opening of Montana’s General Fishing Season. The Madison River from Quake Lake to Mac Bridge is in great shape, it is almost scary how good the river looks for this time of the year. Our snowmelt has peaked and we are in need of some precipitation. No need to worry just yet as there is still time for the mountains to receive snow and rain. May has been dry, but last night it rained almost all night and there is a snow advisery for today and tomorrow.
I floated Lyons to Palisades on Saturday and the fishing was pretty good in some places and a little slower in others. We fished streamers, dries and did some nymphing too. Olive sculpins, SJ Worms, Rubber Leg Stoneflies, pheasant tails and serendipities worked sub-surface. There were a few March Browns on certain stretches of the river and I fooled a number of trout with my a #14 March Brown Para-Shuck. There were not many big fish feeding on the surface, but dry fly fishing for smaller fish out weighs nymph fishing for larger trout when I get the chance to fish out of the front of my boat. We saw another mayfly on the Madison that I have not seen for a few years. It was almost like a cross between a BWO and Flav, with wings similar to a Calibeatis. The body was dark olive and thick. I am going to ask John Juracek at Blue Ribbon Flies as he is the authority on hatches in the Greater Yellowstone Area. He knows it all.
On Sunday, I woke up early and got down to the Slide ahead all the other fisherman. I rigged up a single rubber leg on 2X with four feet of tippet and hit the pocket water looking for fish with their tails up. I spotted several trout while blind fishing my way up the river. There are still many rainbows spawning in the upper Madison so I like to stay away from the gravel bars and just fish the pockets this time of the year. After 2 hours on the Slide I headed down to Reynolds Pass and was surprised to see several cars, but nobody was fishing the water up or downstream of the bridge. I spotted several fish feeding on nymphs. One particular brown trout was sitting in a foot of water taking nymphs as they drifted by. I waded out, put the sneak on and took a really nice 16 brown by swinging a stone fly in his face. It was great to see a fish like that swim up an grab my bug. I love that section of river and I had it all to myself. Rarely do I count fish, but yesterday it was so good that I kept a log of my fishing. From the Slide down to Reynolds I hooked 31 trout and landed 19. Several of the larger trout spit the hook mid-stream. The rubber leg produced the best results and after four hours of fishing I headed back to town. My fix for the tug was much needed as things in my life have been a little out of wack. The river has its way of healing everything, no matter what the problem is.