Updated 3/09/2021 - Time to break the ice out of the drift boat and bust out the waders. It’s starting to feel like spring around the Madison Valley with temperatures getting into the mid 40’s this past week. These warmer temperatures have improved the fishing tremendously. We are currently sitting at ~90% snow pack which is good but we could definitely use a few more storms to ensure that we have solid flows throughout the season.
Per usual, nymph fishing has been the most productive method. The fish are stacked up in the slow deep runs so focus on these areas and if you catch one make sure to run a few more casts through and you will likely pick up a few more. The fish have started to key in on eggs as the rainbows are getting ready to spawn. A pink or orange egg trailed behind a size 8 black or olive/brown Girdle Bug has been the ticket the past few days. If the egg isn’t picking up fish for you then swap it out for a #18 Zebra Midge, #18 Pheasant Tail or #16 Prince Nymph.
If you're looking to throw some dry flies focus on the upper most section of the river primarily above the West Fork. Still seeing lots of midge activity and seeing a few baetis here and there. Expect to start seeing some more baetis in the next few weeks. Griffiths Gnats, Tilt Wing BWO, Sparkle Dun BWO and Parachute Adams in sizes 18 and 20 are great options this time of year. Fish these on a 9ft 5x leader and target the pools behind larger rocks as well as foam lines in slow deep runs.
Streamer fishing has picked up a little bit as well. The fish are still lazy so make sure to slow down your retrieve and even dead drift at times. Natural sculpin imitations in either olive or black have been working best. Sculpinators, RIO Meat Sweats, Mini Loop and Buggers are all great patterns that have been working best for us.
For the guys that are looking to float. Town access and Valley Garden are still closed due to ice left over from the river gorging. As of last week Windy Point still had a big snow drift blocking the access so I would avoid putting in/taking out there until further notice. All the other accesses are good to go. Feel free to give us a call for further updates on fishing and current conditions!
- MRFC Guide John Kelley