Madison River Fishing Report

Madison River Fishing Report for June 3rd, 2023

Dam: 1,840 cfs

Kirby: 2,550 cfs

Varney: 3,910 cfs

The Upper Madison is coming back into shape after a sharp bump in flows out of Hebgen Dam that started on May 27th and has been gradually decreasing since the 31st. With the influx of clear water entering Quake Lake, we have seen a noticeable improvement in water clarity over the last few days and we are currently sitting at around 2.5 feet and green above the West Fork. We expect clarity to hover between 1.5′ to 3′ over the next several weeks, as flows out of Hebgen are decreased and a more equal mix of clear water from the dam and dirty water from Beaver and Cabin Creeks enters Quake. That said, it looks as though our peak runoff period in southwest Montana has passed and fishing should start to improve significantly with each passing week.

Fishing with nymphs and streamers has been good to excellent on the upper stretches between Quake and Lyon’s Bridge. Like we mentioned in our previous post, the key to fishing the Madison when it’s high and dirty is to locate the soft water with a consistent slow to medium paced current speed, and fish it thoroughly with a variety of different nymphs. Fish have been getting a little more educated on the bigger stonefly and worm patterns recently, especially on some of the more popular holes located within eyesight of access points. While we wouldn’t be caught dead without a good selection of Pat’s Rubber Legs or San Juan Worms out there, they seem to be working better in the more inconspicuous areas and those that require a little more effort to get to. So if you get to your favorite high-water hole and you aren’t getting much action on the bigger stuff, try scaling down your flies before you move on to the next spot. Some of our better patterns in this department include #14-#16 Olive Caddis Larva, #18 Galloup’s BWO Nymph, #18 Juju Baetis, #18 Black Zebra Midges, #16-#18 Purple Lightning Bugs, #14-#16 BH Prince Nymphs, and #16-#18 Black Perdigons.

Streamer fishing has also been pretty good out there this week, and the low-pressure fronts and cloud cover hanging around probably have a lot to do with it. Most of the larger brown trout have been hanging tight to the banks and in 8 inches to 3 feet of water at the most, and we have been doing best on larger articulated patterns fished tight against the banks. Dungeons in Black, Olive, Natural, and Yellow, Black/Olive Double Screamers, Olive and Black Boogie Men, and Olive Peanut Envys have all been good choices as of late. As flows start to decrease, expect streamer action in the float sections to start picking up in a big way as well. We have been getting some good fish to eat below Palisades over the last several days but it’s still pretty pushy along the banks. We would suggest sticking to the wade stretches for the best streamer fishing until flows start to drop below 2,000 cfs at Kirby.

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