Madison River Fishing Report for June 21st, 2022

Dam: 2,300 cfs

Kirby: 2,980 cfs

Varney: 4,220 cfs

The Upper Madison is coming back into shape after the incredible amount of rain we received just over a week ago.  Flows out of Hebgen peaked from June 15th through June 17th, and NorthWestern Energy has been dropping them steadily every day since then.  We anticipate flows out of the dam to drop below 2,000 cfs in the next 24-36 hours, and visibility to start to improving by the weekend.  In the meantime the upper wade stretch has been fishing well in the mud with nymph and streamers.

We have been getting a lot of calls at the shop with regards to clarity these days, so let’s dive into that for a bit.  Currently the Upper Madison is running olive-brown with about 8″ of visibility between Quake Lake and the Lyon’s Bridge, with clarity getting much worse down by Ennis.  Our best guess is that we should be closer to 2 feet in the next 3-4 days, as Beaver and Cabin Creek are putting in less and cleaner water into the the lake with each passing day.  As of this morning, Cabin Creek was still running brown with just a few inches of visibility but Beaver Creek is a lot closer to 2 feet of clarity and green.  We also did a quick check at the boat ramp at Quake Lake where clarity was about 2 feet, compared to around 8″ near the outlet, so we should start to see cleaner water enter the river below the Slide area shortly.

We have been fishing the upper stretches between the Slide and Lyon’s Bridge since the river stabilized around the 15th, and the nymph fishing has been good to excellent depending on the day.  Black and Black/Brown Pat’s Rubber Legs and Hot Pink San Juan Worms trailing olive caddis larva, purple lightning bugs, and prince nymphs have been our best producers in the dirty water and should continue to be until the river starts to clear.  Just make sure you are fishing the softest water possible with plenty of split shot and you will do well out there.  There has only been so much good water to fish out there recently, particularly when flows are above 3,500 cfs at the Kirby Gauge, but we will have a lot of good water open up this week as flows continue to drop.  Also worth noting is that the streamer fishing has improved dramatically over the last few days as well.  Black, olive, and yellow Dungeons, black/olive Double Screamers, and Black Silk Kitties have been pulling out some really nice browns holding super tight to the bank.

While most of the consistent fishing is in the upper stretches, you will want to stay away from float fishing between Lyon’s Bridge and Palisades until flows above the West Fork drop below 2,600 cfs as it is still too high to float under Sun West and Wolf Creek Bridges.  The rest of the river can be floated from Palisades down to Burnt Tree, but fishing will be pretty tough compared to the upper reaches, and the Ennis Ramp and Valley Garden are still closed to traffic.  Again, we should start to see the float stretch come back into shape by the end of the week, and it won’t be long now until we start to see the first signs of salmon flies crawling out around town.  Our best guess is that we should start to see bugs popping down low in about a week to 10 days.