Cool weather has found its way into the Madison Valley followed by a mixture of rain and snow. In the words of Mr. Buffet, It’s been quite a summer, rent-a-cars and west bound trains. Warm-weather hopefuls can still be found on the Main Street of Ennis clinging to their Margaritaville flip flops and short sleeve shirts. With the mass exodus of major crowds occupying the valley, the Upper Madison has seen significantly less pressure over the last few weeks.
Water levels continue to be low on the Upper section of the river. According to the USGS monitoring location at Cameron, the flows have dropped from 990 CFS to 850 CFS over the last 8 days. The river is still floatable with certain sections forcing you to get out and walk the boat through grim water. 8 Mile to town has been especially difficult with two anglers in the boat, so be prepared for various levels of physical labor/punishment should you take that route. Water temperatures have been sporadic over the last week, a high of 54 and low of 33 degrees have been recorded. It’s officially fall in Montana, make sure to plan and dress accordingly.
Onto the fishing. We’ve had some epic days of angling over the last week. With that in mind, we’ve also had our fair share of straight up awful ones. Fish have been the most active during the warmest parts of the day with catch rates decreasing significantly after 4:30PM. If you’re the slow moving night owl among your group of friends you now have reason to rejoice! Sleep in. Allow time for both your coffee and the river’s temperature to heat up.
Nymphing has been the most successful practice in recent days. Both indicator and tightline methods have brought in fish, however tightlining has been the most productive. Downsizing your leader and tippet can make or break your day during this time of year. Here are some of the nymphs that I’ve been rotating through now that things are cooling down:
TBH Pat’s Rubber Legs in Black and Olive (#8 - #10), Jig Crack Back Bullet Brown (#16 - #20), Spanish Bullet Purple Wine (#16 - #20), Jig Crack Back Bullet Olive ( #16 - #20), TBH Pheasant Tail Jig BL (#12 - #16), Jig Duracell in Rainbow and Original (#14 - #18), Quill Bomb Olive (#16 - #18).
Streamer fishing has brought in some incredibly colorful browns. If you’re a fan of trophy hunting, the time has arrived to give it your all. Some of the streamers that I’ve had success with this last week are as follows:
Continue to be patient and help others out when you can at the ramp so that everyone can pull out in an orderly and efficient manner. As it gets colder in the year it can be easy to forget your safe fish handling practices. We urge you to wet your hands and keep those fish wet! Avoid fish pictures for the gram whenever possible so that we can continue to have healthy fish populations for years to come.
- MRFC Guide Danny Eiden