Madison River Fishing Report for April 11th, 2018

Dam: 1,370 cfs

Kirby: 1,410 cfs

Varney: 1,600 cfs 

Madison River fishing report.  It’s been a while since we had a normal Spring in the Madison Valley, as random weeks of rain and highs in the sixties have been far too common for March and early April in years past.  We had been fishing ice out at Quake and Hebgen for almost two weeks at this time last year, but colder temps and high elevation snow have kept the melt at a very slow pace…which is a good thing by the way.  As of today, the snow pack in the Madison Range is sitting pretty with a moisture content of 123%, with even higher amounts in the surrounding watersheds, so it should be a great water year throughout the Western part of the state.

Fishing on the Upper Madison has remained solid in the upper stretches over the last several weeks, and all the boat ramps from Raynolds down to Valley Garden are open for business.  We have been getting some fantastic midge hatches between Quake and Lyon’s Bridge over the last several weeks, but the dry fly fishing has not been as consistent as what you typically see in February and early March.  Some days you can have rising fish in the slicks and edges for hours on end and the next day they just don’t seem to want to poke their heads up.  That being said, I would still have a good selection of Goober Midges, Griffith’s Gnats, and Hanging Midges in size 20 before heading out because there is still a very good chance that you could have some amazing dry fly fishing during the late morning and early afternoon hours.

As per usual this time of year, the nymph bite has been good to downright stupid most days.  We are still doing well on small Pat’s Rubber Legs and other stonefly nymphs, but they are starting to get a little more gun shy around the popular access points when it comes to larger patterns.  If this is the case, then they are usually on the midge drift and #18-20 zebra midges, #18 black Three Dollar Dips, and #18 Redneck Midges have been some of our best producers over the last several weeks.  We still haven’t seen any spring Baetis hatching up high, but it should start to get going on the lower river by Ennis here very shortly, followed by March Browns and Mothers Day Caddis in 2-3 weeks.  There hasn’t been much in the way of adult Skwallas hatching either, but the the nymphs have started to line the banks and my guess is that we should start to see some adults making their presence known by the end of the month at the latest.  Rogue River Stones, Umpqua Skwalas, and Chubby Chernobyls in size 12 are all good choices for fishing this hatch, but the Chubby comes in handy when you are looking to drop a rubber leg or worm off the back.

Streamer fishing has been good in the wade stretches, but it really hasn’t been all that great in the float section between Lyon’s and Ennis Bridge quite yet.  Probably the best explanation for this is that water temps are still very much on the chilly side, and you get a much better shot at targeting a fish willing to chase when you are isolating water on foot rather than from the boat.  Look for that to change once we start getting consistent water temps in the mid to high 40’s.  In the meantime, smaller sculpin patterns like Mini Dungeons and Mini Loop Sculpin, and thin profile articulated streamers like Peanut Envys, Double Screamers, and Barely Legals have been doing the most damage during the afternoons.  Just keep your retrieves on the slower side and make sure to keep hitting the softer water along the banks and you should get into some nicer fish.  Be sure to keep checking back for another Madison River fishing report from The Slide Inn.