Madison River Fishing Report

Madison River Fishing Report for May 17th, 2022

5/23 Flow & Clarity Update

 The Upper Madison is still running clear in the wade stretch between Quake and Lyons and the float stretch is running with just a tinge of green below Palisdades.  Flows out of Hebgen dropped to 405 cfs as of yesterday as Northwestern Energy is making sure they can fill Hebgen Lake by the end of June.  Flows at the Kirby gauge are 619 cfs and Varney is running at 795 cfs. We expect the clarity to get worse from Lyon’s down to Ennis with the warm weather in the forecast on Wednesday and Thursday, which should get the West Fork of the Madison running brown again.


Dam: 640 cfs

Kirby: 886 cfs

Varney: 1,160 cfs

The Upper Madison has been fishing well this week, and the cooler temperatures have kept the creeks low and clear up until last night.   The river is still running clear from the Slide Area down to Pine Butte, but the West Fork is putting in a good stripe of mud down the center of the river and Cabin and Beaver Creeks have started to put a lot of dirty water into Quake Lake.   Our guess is that Quake will start to get more brown-olive in color in the next week or so. If you are looking to float the river, the mud starts to mix evenly between Palisades and Ruby and there was approximately 8″ of visibility in Ennis this morning.  There is a good possibility that the cold front coming in on Thursday could slow things down a little bit, but I think it’s safe to say that the first stages of Spring runoff have started on the Upper Madison.

     Nymphs and streamers have been the most effective methods at getting into fish lately.  There are BWO’s around but the window for good dry fly fishing is pretty short on the sunny days.  We are also starting to see Caddis and March Browns hatching on the lower portions of the river below Varney, so there are opportunities for some decent surface action depending on the day.  The most effective nymph patterns have been #8-#10 Pat’s Rubber Legs,#18 Kelly’s BWO nymph, #16-#18 Tungsten Red Necks, #16-#18 Perdigons, Zebra Midges, and Three Dollar Dips.  With water levels on the rise and dirty water coming out of the creeks, you can rest assured that worm patterns will be back on the menu as well.

Streamer fishing has been good to excellent and should only get better with a little bit of color in the water.  Small sculpin and baitfish patterns have been best in the morning when water temperatures are still on the cooler side.  Once water temps start to get into the mid to upper 40 degree range we have done better on larger articulated patterns like Peanut Envys, Double Screamers, and Boogie Men.  Most of the larger Brown Trout continue to be in the shallows where they are not being targeted by indicator rigs.  Try fishing the transition zones along the banks with a light sink tip or floating line and you’ll be surprise what you pull out of there.

As always, please watch your step and pay attention to where you drop your boat anchor as there are lots of spawning redds out there.  If you do encounter cleared gravel it is always better to walk upstream rather than downstream as the vast majority of the eggs end up 3′-15′ behind the actual redd.


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