Madison River Fishing Report for 5/4/2016

Dam: 861 cfs

Kirby: 1,200 cfs

Varney: 1,700 cfs

Madison River fishing report.  The colder temperatures we experienced last week certainly slowed our runoff down quite a bit, but the 70 degree days and rain showers projected in the forecast this weekend will most likely get it going again.  Cabin and Beaver Creeks are still putting plenty of mud into Quake Lake and the visibility in the wade section remains at 24″ and green.  The West Fork is also starting to put more color into the Madison above Lyon’s Bridge, and while this stripe of grayish-green water is about 30 feet wide at the moment my guess is that it will double in size and be more reminiscent of chocolate milk by tomorrow at the latest.  The good news is that most of the small tributaries are still running clear with the exception of Indian Creek, so the visibility hasn’t changed much by the time you get down towards Ennis.  Again, that will most likely change by tomorrow if the West Fork starts putting in more mud.

The fishing remains extremely productive throughout the Upper Madison, with nymphs and streamers still doing the most damage.  We have seen good hatches of BWOs and midges in the wade section, but it has been a little more inconsistent with the bright sun over the last several days.  Expect to see more bugs popping up through the water column with the cloud cover moving in on Friday, and make sure to have a good selection of parachute adams and purple hazes in size 18 as well as some goober midges and griffith’s gnats if you plan on fishing up high.  There are still quite a few skwallas roaming around the banks as well, and we’ve had some great fish come up for smaller chubby chernobyls and stimulators from late morning on.  If you head down towards Ennis you will encounter BWOs, March Browns, and biblical swarms of Mother’s Day Caddis, but the dry fly fishing doesn’t seem to be picking up until early in the evening.  Fish have been keyed in on nymphs during the emergence though, and have been looking up later in the day.

Nymph fishing in the wade section is still one of your best bets right now, and we’ve been doing best on tan/brown and black Pat’s rubber legs, caddis larva, shop vacs, BWO nymphs, lightning bugs, san juan worms, zebra midges, and $3 Dips.  Fish are still holding in the slower insides and pockets in the morning, but you will definitely find more fish out on the faster seams as water temperatures start to creep into the high 40’s and low 50’s during the afternoon.  Make sure you have enough split shot to keep your rigs on the bottom and you should do well out there.  The two most common mistakes that separate a fair day from an excellent day of nymph fishing is not changing your depth and not changing your flies.  If you come to a good piece of water on the Madison you can be sure that there is always a pile of fish lying just below the surface.  That said, if you make 30 good drifts through it without a touch, change up your bugs and run it again until you figure it out.  There are days where you figure it out on the first try, and there are days where you might go through 20 different patterns before you figure out what they are eating, but the point is to keep switching up until you find what they are keyed in on.

For all you streamer junkies out there, the bite has been on in a big way.  Larger articulated patterns such as silk kitties, sex dungeons, boogie men, and barely legals have been sticking some pigs lately, and they have really started chasing them over the last couple of weeks.  I would still keep it a little on the slower side in the early morning hours, but we’ve had plenty of days where fish seem to prefer a faster presentation (especially from mid afternoon through evening).  Our best colors have been olive, white, black, natural, and olive/white but yellow can also be a slam dunk this time of year in the sun. As always, please watch out of spawning redds this time of year especially when wading around gravel bars and side channels.  There are plenty of spawning fish on beds right now so please don’t harass them and let them do their thing.  If you do encounter freshly cleared gravel, always walk in front of the redds rather than behind them as most of the eggs usually end up 5-15 feet downstream from the actual beds.

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