Madison River Fishing Report for April 30th, 2018

Dam: 1,910 cfs

Kirby: 2,120 cfs

Varney: 2,460 cfs

Madison River fishing report.  We are in the early stages of runoff on the Upper Madison, and as water levels continue to rise with each passing week you can rest assured that we are in store for a big water year.  Most of the creeks are still running clear below Quake with the exception of Indian and the West Fork, but all it takes is one good rain storm and we will start to see the mud coming in full force.  The section between Quake and Lyon’s Bridge is still holding at 3.5′-4′ of viz with a slight green tinge, but both Cabin and Beaver Creeks were throwing in a decent amount of chocolate milk over the weekend so we should start to see visibility decrease later this week.  The West Fork is also putting in a small brown stripe that is pretty evenly mixed by Windy Point.  Once you get below Windy you can expect roughly  2.5′-3′ of visibility for the time being, but my guess is that it will start to get closer to 1.5′-2” by the end of the week.

The nymph bite continues to the most consistent way of getting into fish, especially in the upper twelve miles or so.  Small Rubber Legs, San Juan Worms, Zebra Midges, Kelly’s BWO Nymph, Hare’s Ears, Princes, and Serendipities have all been good out there as long as you have enough split shot to get them down on the bottom.  As water levels continues to rise, make sure you are targeting the slowest water you can find and be sure to keep changing up your fly patterns until you crack the code.  As a general rule of thumb, if you put 25-30 good drifts in a likely holding spot without an eat you are either not getting down to their level or you are simply showing them something they’re not interested in.

As far as dries are concerned we are still seeing a ton of midge activity and a handful of BWO’s in the afternoons, but the headhunting has been slim to none over the last several days and will probably not get much better if we see a decrease in visibility.  We’ve had some good reports of fish up of blue wings down by Ennis though, and it shouldn’t be long before we see good numbers of March Browns below Varney.  That said, the lower river might be your best bet if you are looking for dry fly activity these days.  Skwallas are out and about as well, but we haven’t had many fish come up for them since the water came up.  Long story short, it’s looking more and more like a subsurface game up high this week but that could change if we get some stable water levels and with at least a couple feet of viz.

Streamers have been good in the wade sections of the Upper Madison, but it has still been pretty tough in the float section between Lyon’s and Town.  You’ll definitely get some looks out there, but you’re going to have to put in your time if you decide to float.  Some of our better patterns lately have been Mini Loop Sculpin, Mini CH T&A’s, Double Screamers, and Peanut Envys in a variety of colors but black, olive, natural, and yellow have been the most consistent.  In the upper river we have been doing best on olive/white barely legals, natural mini loop sculpin, olive peanut envys, and black sex dungeons.  Hopefully the bite will turn on over the next several days with the low pressure system in the works.

Finally, we are starting to see good numbers of spawning beds up high as well as between the lakes.  If you do encounter cleared gravel, do your best to steer clear of it and remember to always walk upstream from these areas if you need to cross as most of the eggs end up 3-15 feet behind the redd.

Be sure to keep checking back for another Madison River fishing report from The Slide Inn.