Madison River Fishing Report for 3/30/2016

Dam: 900 cfs

Kirby: 959 cfs

Varney: 1,080 cfs

Madison river fishing report.  The Upper Madison continues to fish very well this month, and about the only thing that has changed from our last report has been the increased number of anglers on the river and late winter storms descending upon the valley.  Speaking of which, the recent snows have bumped our snow pack up considerably since February, and we are now sitting at 100% in the Madison Range. The forecast is calling for more snow through tomorrow night, and we are expecting a breezy rest of the week with highs in the low to mid 40’s until Friday afternoon.

The nymph fishing on the upper river has been nothing short of spectacular, with the old standbys such as Pat’s rubber legs, small three dollar serendipities, zebra midges, small san juan worms, hares ears, and egg patterns still leading the charge.  We have also been doing well on baetis nymphs over the last couple weeks, and it shouldn’t be long before we start to see good numbers of BWOs hatching on the lower river towards Ennis.  As we wait for the first signs of mayflies riding the surface film, rest assured that there is still some incredible dry fly opportunities to be had between Quake Lake and Lyon’s Bridge right now.  Midges are still coming off in good numbers between 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., and a well presented #18-20 griffith’s gnat, goober midge, or ARF midge should be all you need to stay bent throughout the hatch.  The headhunting might be a little more difficult over the next few days, as the 15-20 mph winds in the forecast tend to put a damper on the dry fly fishing around here; however, you can usually find a little more shelter around Pine Butte and the West Fork if the bugs are getting blown off the water down by Raynold’s and Three Dollar.

The fishing in the float section has been good as well, and all the boat ramps are accessible between Lyon’s and Valley Garden.  Crowds have been pretty slim on the weekdays, but there have been a good number of anglers floating around town on the weekends.  Long story short, if solitude is what you seek then I would stay away from Varney to Valley Garden unless you can play hooky during the weekday.  However, the Madison between Lyon’s and Varney has seen significantly less traffic and the fishing has been excellent, so don’t be afraid to head upstream if you want to get away from the masses.  As far as the fishing is concerned you’ll have no problem getting into fish by sticking to the nymphs mentioned above, and the best timeframe seems to be in that afternoon window between 12 and 5:00 p.m. when water temperatures are on the rise.

The incredible streamer fishing we had in February has started to slow down a little, but we are still having some great days throughout the wade and float sections of the Madison.  One thing we preach about spring streamer fishing on this river, or any river for that matter, is that you’ll do best by sticking to more food based patterns rather than reactionary flies.  Not that you can’t get some great fish on gaudy yellow and chartreuse streamers this time of year, but we tend to get more of a response from flies imitating sculpins, leeches, and fry rather than patterns developed to produce a territorial response. This all changes once we start to get some color in the river, but when fishing clear water I would stick to white, olive, black, and natural colored streamers.  That said, our best patterns over the last week have been sex dungeons, peanut envys, barely legals, Trevor sculpins, and silk kitties.  You’ll want to keep your retrieves on the slower side until water temperatures start to climb into the mid 40’s, and we have been doing best by moving our flies in 3″-4″ increments on a slow jig.

In closing, we are starting to see good numbers of spawning redds throughout the Upper Madison so please be mindful of any cleared gravel or spawning fish when wading.  If you do encounter spawning redds, please do your best to stay off of them and remember to walk in front of them rather than behind them, as the vast majority of the eggs end up 5 to 15 feet downstream from the actual beds.

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