Madison River Fishing Report for January 10th, 2017

Dam: 890 cfs

Kirby: 994 cfs

     Madison River fishing report.  It’s been a cold and windy Winter here in SW Montana, and many of the surrounding freestones are frozen or a slushy mess for the time being, including the lower portion of the river downstream from 8 Mile Ford.  The good news is that our current snowpack in the Madison Range, as well as throughout the western part of the state, is at or above average despite the lower moisture content.  That said, we still have a long Winter ahead of us and hopefully mother nature will keep pummeling the mountains with plenty of snowfall in order to keep our rivers nice and cool throughout the summer months.  

     The fishing on the Upper Madison has picked up quite a bit since we exited the deep freeze last week, and it looks like we should have temperatures with highs in the 20’s through the weekend. Obviously there isn’t a huge rush to get out there first thing in the morning, but if you hit the river by 11:00 you should be comfortable with the right cold weather gear.  Most of the midge activity has been taking place between noon and 2:30, and a size 18 or 20 Goober Midge or Griffith’s Gnat is still about all you need to pick fish off when you encounter heads up in the slicks.  If nymphs are more your style, then you should have no problem getting into fish on the Madison right now with a good selection of winter staples:  #18 Hare’s Ears, #8-10 Pat’s Rubber Legs, #18 regular and black three dollar dips, #18-20 WD-40’s, and #18 Zebra Midges are always good choices this time of year.  As is customary with winter fishing, the water you target is just as important as your fly selection, if not more so.  If you are fishing the fast seams and shallow riffles then you aren’t targeting the high percentage areas, and you should constantly be on the lookout for deep holes, slow inside and outside bends, and slow moving tailouts.  It is quite common to see fish moving into the shallows to feed during the midge emergence, but the rest of your time on the water should be focused on the slower and deeper sections of the river.

Streamer fishing is still a little on the slower side, but we have noticed fish willing to chase a little more over the last few days as water temperatures start to climb into the high 30’s.  Kelly’s mini sex dungeon and other small sculpin imitations like the Trevor or the Mini Loop are always good choices during the winter, but we actually got more than a few to eat a silk kitty a few days ago so don’t be afraid to go big if the smaller stuff isn’t working for you. Make sure to keep your retrieves in that 4″-6″ range if you plan on starting with streamers in the morning, and you should be able to step it up gradually into the afternoon.  Black, olive, and natural have been our best colors as of late, but white or olive/white has also gotten some looks when the sun is on the water.  As always, be sure to keep checking back for another Madison River fishing report from the Slide Inn.