Madison River, Hoot Owl, Montana, Fly Fishing, Montana Fly Fishing, Madison River Fishing Report

August 2021
Updated 8/05/2021

The historic first-ever Hoot Owl on the upper Madison has been in place for 2 weeks now. This means that fishing is closed on the upper Madison between the hours of 2pm and midnight. It’s been putting a strain on the boat launches in the afternoon, as everyone tries to race to get off the river by 2. Expect crowding at the take-outs. Try to move your boats as efficiently as possible, don’t clog up the ramp and the rigging areas. Lend a hand to the other boats trying to get out. Don’t get excited, be patient. It is Angry August and tempers can flare and people will get annoyed. Remember, it’s just fishing! Let’s try not to take ourselves and what we do too seriously. We’re all just out there trying to have fun, you’re doing it wrong if you’re getting pissed off!

Terrestrials have been the dry fly of choice. In the late morning when things warm up the ant bite has been the most consistent. Delektable Cinnamon Ants, Hegan’s Red Ant, Galloup’s Ant Acid, and Arrick’s Parachute Ant have been some of our favorites. The hopper bite has been on and off, without too much regularity. The hopper bite is best in the sun, and we’ve had intermittent smoke and haze blowing in and out of the valley. Carnage hoppers, Thunder Thighs, Rainy’s Grand, More-or-Less, Blade Runner, Juicy Hopper, and the Panty Dropper in tan, pink, and yellow are bringing them up. We’re finding the fish on the banks, and in the pillows and slicks around the rocks. Not much coming up in the middle. Attractor patterns like Pink Chubbys and Jake’s Trigger Belly are hanging a nice fish, and are great when fished as an indicator/dropper rig.

Streamer fishing in the cool morning hours are producing fish. Dead drifting smaller sculpin patterns under an indicator like Trevor’s Sculpin and the Mini Loop have been the favorites. Natural Zonkers, Meat Sweats, Dali Lama, Sparkle Minnows, and Delektable Screamers in white and olive have been working. #14 and #16 nymphs like Flashback Pheasant Tails, Spankers, Lightning Bugs, and Duracells ran behind your streamer make a winning combo.

As always, nymphing continues to be the most consistent way to bring fish in day in, day out. 80% of what a fish eats is under the water. Roza White Wing, Perdi Bomb, and Claret’s Espresso Midge were killing it right down the middle. As always, with nymphing, you haft to sift through the whitefish. They deserve our respect as MT natives. An indicator of a healthy river is a healthy whitefish population. Pat’s Rubber Legs (of course), Prince nymphs, Three Dollar Dips, Crystal Dips, Pheasant Tails, and Perdigons will keep your rod bent. 

Practice safe fish handling. Let’s keep them wet and get them back in the river as fast as possible. Protect our resource! We are all stewards off this great river, and every little thing helps. Let’s pay attention to the details and leave the river better than you found it!

- MRFC Guide Patrick McGinnis