Madison River Fishing Report for February 17th, 2017

Dam: 861 cfs

Kirby: 892 cfs

      Madison River fishing report.  Not much has changed on the Upper Madison this month except for the presence of warmer air temperatures that have descended upon the valley over the last several weeks.  It’s strange to see rain in the forecast this early, but at least we are still getting some snow in the mountains and we still have a good amount of Winter left to go.  The Madison Range is currently sitting at 135% of total snow pack with a moisture content of 100%, so it looks like we are still on track for an average looking runoff.   

     Afternoon winds have put a damper on the dry fly fishing for a good portion of the month, but you can still expect to see plenty of snouts pushing up through the surface film in the more sheltered areas around the Slide and Pine Butte.  If you do get a calm day, be sure to grab some #18-20 Goober Midges and some #20 Griffith’s Gnats and you will have no problem picking off rising fish as long as you give them a good drift.  Most of the midge activity is still going on between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., but we’ve had fish eat dries as late as 4:30 p.m. fishing a single midge in likely holding areas.  If nymphs are more your style, then stick with the program that tends to work all winter long: A good selection of #18 Zebra Midges, #18-20 Hare’s Ears, #18 $3 Dips, and small Pat’s Rubber Legs is still about all you should need. As is usually the case, the water you target is just as important as your fly selection right now, 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.

We have also been getting calls asking about the current status of boat ramps along the Upper Madison.  Raynold’s is still a few weeks out at best, but you can definitely get a boat in at Pine Butte right now.  Lyon’s Bridge is doable, but you’ll have to slide your boat from the top of the bottom parking lot to the ramp.  However, this is definitely an option for the time being.  Palisades is still drifted in, but Windy, Ruby, McAtee, and Varney are all easily accessible.  You can get a boat out at 8 Mile and Burnt Tree, but you’ll need a 25-30 foot tow strap to slide your boat up over the ice. While a few boats have been floating between Varney and Burnt over the last few days, it’s still a float at your own risk situation down there, so be sure to stay in the main river when possible and check out any blind corners just to be on the safe side.  Ennis and Valley Garden are still a no-go for at least a couple of weeks.

Streamer fishing has started to pick up a little bit over the last few weeks, due mostly to water temperatures hitting the low 40 degree range during the late afternoon hours.  Small and food-based is still the way to go, and some of our favorite patterns to throw in the winter are Mini Sex Dungons, Trevor’s Sculpins, Wooly Sculpins, and CH Barely Legals.  You might get some decent action during the morning, but the bite will usually be best from 1:00 p.m. to sundown, and we are still doing best on a fairly slow retrieve.

Be sure to keep checking back for another Madison River Fishing Report from the Slide Inn.