Madison River Fishing Report for January 11th, 2021

Dam: 864 cfs

Kirby: 942 cfs

Varney: 1,020 cfs

The Madison Valley continues to see unseasonably warm temperatures this Winter, with plenty of sunshine and very little snow in the mix.  The good news is that there is still a lot of Winter yet to come — I’m sure many of you remember that we only had 74% snowpack on January 17th, 2019, and ended up at over 130% by the end of February so keep the faith and keep doing the snow dance. We are looking at another nice week of temperatures through the weekend, so now is actually a great time to hit the Upper Madison and get a line wet.

Despite not having a true ice gorge quite yet, the lower river is still pretty slushy for the vast majority of the day so your time will be best spent on the sections between Raynold’s and Lyon’s Bridge as well as Between the Lakes.  Nymphing is still the way to go for numbers and really the only way to go when the wind starts howling out there.  Small Zebra Midges, Jujubees Midges, Black $3 Dips, and other midge larva/pupa are generally about all you need during the Winter Months here, but other patterns such as small Pat’s Rubber Legs, Perdigons, and Hare’s Ears are always worth a shot as well.  Just make sure you are targeting the slowest water you can find between 3-5 ft deep and you should do well out there.

The only exception to that rule is during the midge emergence which typically takes place from noon until a little after 2:00 p.m. during which time you will see fish move into the shallows to feed on the surface.  As long as it’s not too windy, the dry fly fishing has been absolutely spectacular over the last three weeks and we are finally starting to see fish getting on larger midge clusters in addition to the usual single adults and emergers.  Some of our favorite midge patterns for fishing the Upper Madison this time of year are CDC Transitional Midges, Hanging Midges, Goober Midges, and the good old Griffith’s Gnat.

Streamer fishing has been pretty slow due to cold water temps, so if you got an itch to scratch it’s best to do so during the last two to three hours of daylight when water temperatures are at their peak.  Small sculpin patterns in black, olive, or natural are always good choices and remember to keep your flies moving relatively slow.