Madison River, Montana, Fishing Report for March 20th, 2020

Dam: 963 cfs

Kirby: 1,030 cfs

Varney: 1,160 cfs

It’s been a crazy week out there ladies and gentleman.  Lots of instability and fear going around these days but we will get through the hard times and this too shall pass. The good news is that there’s no better place to distance yourself from all the stress and anxiety of life than on a river, and you could do worse than spend an afternoon on the Upper Madison these days.  If you can’t make it here do yourself a favor and find one in your own back yard, sit on the bank and just watch the water flow…it’ll do you good.

After a bit of a warm spell in late February and early March, we got back to more seasonable temperatures with some wet snow and wind in the mix.  Fishing has remained good to excellent on the upper twelve miles between Quake and Lyons with both nymphs and dries and it shouldn’t be long before we start seeing good fish starting to chase streamers with more consistency.  It’s still been all about the midge drift up high, and not much has changed in the way of effective patterns since December.  Zebra Midges, Jujubees, Black $3 Dips, and small euro nymphs have been picking up lots of fish when you are targeting the right water.  Just look for sections moving at a walking pace or slower with 3+ feet of depth and you will more than likely have fish holding there.  Small Pat’s Rubber Legs are picking up some nice fish as well and we will start to see fish targeting these with more consistency once we start to see Skwalla nymphs lining the banks here shortly.  We are still seeing good numbers of fish eating midges between Raynold’s and Three Dollar and the dry fly fishing this Winter/Spring has been outstanding when the air has been still.  Bucky’s Midge Cluster, Smoke Jumper Midges, Goober Midges, and CDC Adults are always great choice out there, and be on the lookout for noses between 11:00 – 3:00 pm..

If you are looking to float the river you’ll want to try some bigger bugs up front like stoneflies, worms, etc followed by a BWO nymph, PT, or Hare’s Ear. 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 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  frozen.