Madison River

Dam:  1,010 cfs

Kirby: 1,620 cfs

Varney: 2,470 cfs

It was good to see all the familiar faces in the shop today getting ready for the opener, and we are looking forward to another great season on the Upper Madison in 2012.  We won’t have an actual fishing report until tomorrow afternoon, as the section from Quake to McAtee won’t be open until the clock strikes twelve, but water clarity seems to be topic of concern from all the phone calls we’ve been receiving over the last week.  The plug of mud finally made it all the way through Quake this morning, and we are currently holding at just over a foot of visibility above the West Fork.  While this is anything but good news for the dry fly connoisseur, all you nymph and streamer freaks out there should be trembling with anticipation…..all you have to do is find slow water and 9.99 times out of 10 there will be a pile of fish lying beneath it.  It’s as simple as that.  As far as what to throw, we would recommend starting with the rubber leg and san juan happy meal, as it is awfully hard to ignore such a protein injection when everything that’s been drifting by them for the last three months hasn’t had a hook in it.  That’s not to say that they won’t be looking for smaller nymphs too, and we’ve had most of our success in recent years on dark baetis nymphs, purple lighting bugs, and yellow sally nymphs.  Streamer fisherman should try throwing black sculpin imitations tight against the slower moving banks when the clouds roll in, but we’ve also done very well on yellow, olive, and black/olive double screamers when the sun begins to brighten things up a bit.  If playing in the mud isn’t your idea of a good time, you can still find a quarter mile of clear water between Hebgen Dam and Cabin Creek, but you would be wise to get there before 9:00 at the latest– It is truly the closest thing to combat fishing that you will see in SW Montana.