T. Nolan on the Madison River

Just when things looked like they might slow down a bit, the rest of August is now filling in quite nicely.  Truth be told, I was looking for a few days off to fish, tie flies and catch up on life outside of the trout stream.  Oh well, we will make more hay since the sun is shining………..or when its raining.  Our weather patterns have brought us rain on most afternoons here in SW Montana.  It is raining as I write.  The clouds and precip have helped keep the river cool.  Right now at the Kirby gauge the river is 60 degrees and flowing 1130. 

As for the fishing.  Well, if you put your flies in the right spot they will eat it.  I have been on a dry fly kick for some time now and there are plenty of trout looking up. Some are big, some are small.  Some days are better than others.  The AM bite has been good with Spruce Moths, Stoneflies, Ants and beetles.  The afternoons haven’t been too bad, but one must pay attention to the drift and watch for sneaky, sipping trout in the middle of the river.  These fish are hard to hook because they come out of nowhere and sip the fly.  It scares most anglers into jerking the fly right out of the water.  All of the sudden there is a fish about to eat your fly, but sometimes they don’t eat  it, the fly just disappears.  Trout really don’t need to rise at al.  Big fish can suck a fly under.  Nerves of steel is a great quality to posess this time of the year.  LEAVE THE FLY IN THE WATER UNTIL THE FISH IS GONE OR HAS EATEN THE FLY!  This is hard to accomplish my friends.  Just yesterday I missed several fish while floating the South Fork of the Snake.  But, I don’t care if I miss a few, I just like casting flies which I tie and watching fish rise to eat them. 

There is good to great nymphing in the upper reaches of the Madison River.  The Slide, Reynolds and $3 are busy places with lots of anglers around, but the fishing up there has been pretty good.  These trout are starting to eat ants on the banks and the larger pockets are holding some nice rainbows as well.  I have been fishing pheasant tails, shop vacs, DOB, Crowfly Sallies, micro mayflies….small shit, lots of weight and a quick eye for the strike.  Hit’em all and hit’em hard. 

ER casting dry flies on the South Fork.

As I mentioned before, I spent yesterday fishing the South Fork of the Snake.  This river is superb.  Great hatches, cutties, rainbows, browns, long gravel bars, killer scenery….did I mention rising fish.  Between ER, Yates and myself we probably rose 100 fish.  No shit.  100.  Not all of these were big fish, but a ton in the 12 -14 range.  Anyway,  it is so nice to travel south and fish a river I rarely set foot in.   We fished Wolf to Hisee (sp?) bridge.  That is only about 6 miles, but since we didn’t get on until noon, it worked out great.  We waded gravel bars, watched a moose graze on the bank about 40 yards away while trout rose to our flies, watched the weather roll in and out, drank a few beers, laughed and sunk into the river.  Not once did I look at my phone to see what time it was.  On my last cast I hooked and landed a 15 in cutty.  What a wonderful day.