Madison River, Montana, Fishing Report for March 5th, 2020

Dam: 870 cfs

Kirby: 948 cfs

Varney: 1,080 cfs

The Upper Madison has been fishing well over the last several weeks, and it looks like we are on a little bit of a warming trend after a cold start to February.  Around this time last year we were still buried in snow and enduring sub zero temperatures, and yet the highs for this weekend are supposed to be in the 50’s.  As a result, people have already started putting their ski boots away for the year and trading them out for wading boots, as there is nothing quite like Spring Fishing after getting through another Montana Winter.

Midges are still the name of the game on the upper wade stretch between Quake and Lyon’s Bridge – nymphs such as Jujubees, black Three Dips, Zebra Midges, and the like are still pretty hard to beat, and will continue to produce well into May.  We are also starting to get a few more fish on small Pat’s Rubber Legs, but nowhere near the amount that are keying in on the midge drift.  That should start to change here over the next two weeks or whenever the majority of the Skwalla nymphs start to make their migration towards the banks.  We should also see BWO nymphs starting to make it into the rotation once water temps start to consistently get into the mid 40’s, and it shouldn’t be long until we see our first mayfly hatches down by Ennis.  If dry flies are more your style, you can still find good numbers of fish rising to midges in the late morning through the early afternoon hours as long as the wind isn’t too bad – Goober Midges, Gray Hanging Midges, and CDC Midge Clusters in #18-22 have been steady producers all Winter.

We have also been getting a number of calls regarding the boat ramp situation on the Upper Madison.  Raynold’s and Pine Butte are still a no go unless you have a lightweight raft you can easily carry.  If you don’t mind doing a little pushing you can put in at Lyon’s Bridge but taking out is not recommended quite yet.  Windy Point has a few passable drifts but is usable for both a put in and a take out.  Palisades access is still a no go, as there are some pretty long drifts settled in across the road down to the parking lot.  We are probably looking at another week or two before it is accessible.  From Ruby Creek down to Ennis all the ramps are good to go with the exception of Storey Ditch which is still a little frozen.  Our guess is that it will be usable very shortly, but you’ll want to make sure and scout the Ditch for ice before calling in your shuttle.  Valley Garden is still drifted in, but that should be accessible here shortly as well.

Streamer fishing is starting to become a more productive option, as water temperatures are finally starting to get up into the mid 40’s but it will still be a little slow until you get into the mid afternoon hours.  We typically carry a good assortment of smaller food-based patterns that represent sculpin and smaller trout this time of year, and black, olive, olive/white, natural, and white will get it done 95% of the time.  Keep your retrieves on the slower side and target the slower moving buckets and inside bends and you should bump into a few nice browns out there.