Madison River Fishing Report for May 3rd, 2023
Dam: 1,120 cfs
Kirby: 1,400 cfs
Varney: 1,810 cfs
Warmer temperatures finally made their way out of hibernation late last week, and all of us have been soaking up the Spring sunshine as of late. But as the saying goes, for every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction, and the creeks have started to put in some dirty water into the Upper Madison over the last three days or so. Right now the river is gin clear from The Slide area down to the Old Kirby Place, but Cabin and Beaver Creek have been putting in quite a bit of mud into Quake lake since the weekend, and we’re guessing the river will turn green by the Saturday or Sunday at the latest. The West Fork is also throwing in a pretty good mud stripe below Lyon’s Bridge and you will see clarity get progressively worse the further you go downstream. As of today there was about 1.5′-2′ of clarity at Burnt Tree and my guess is that it will be getting a little worse over the next few days.
The forecast is calling for much cooler temperatures starting on Friday which should slow the melt down in theory, but we are also supposed to get quite a bit of rain in the mix too. What happens next depends on how cold it gets in the high country — If we can get nighttime temperatures in the mountains to drop below freezing this weekend we should start to see flows level out a bit…if it stays warm, our runoff will really start to get going and the Madison will start to go up quickly. Only time will tell.
Fishing on the wade section between Quake and Lyon’s Bridge has been very good over the last couple of weeks. The streamer bite is still mediocre, but the nymph and dry fly fishing have been very productive. As far as bugs are concerned we are still seeing good numbers of midges and BWO’s and there have been quite a few skwallas starting to crawl out on the banks up here. You can definitely get some fish on dries during the early afternoon hours but nymphing is still the name of the game right now. Pat’s Rubber Legs, Zebra Midges, Jujubees, Tungsten Red Necks, Small Perdigons, Juju Baetis, and Barr’s Emergers have been some of our better nymph patterns over the last couple of weeks and the worm should start to get going up here when water levels begin to rise and we finally get some color into the river.
The float section of the Madison has been fishing decent as well, but not quite as consistent as the wade stretches. We have been doing better on bigger stones and worm patterns the further downstream you go and have been getting a few more fish to chase streamers. Fish have been willing to chase a lot more in the afternoon, so if you are looking to rig up the sinking line you’ll do best by concentrating your efforts from 2:00 pm until dark. Some of our better pattners have been Mini T&A’s, Mini Dungeons, Sparkle Minnows, and Double screamers.
As always, be sure to watch your step out there (or where you drop your anchor) if you plan on heading over, as there are lots of rainbows on spawning redds. If you do encounter cleared gravel, be sure to walk in front of the redd rather than behind as most of the eggs wind up 3-10 ft behind the actual spawning bed.