August 2021
Updated 8/17/2021

Late summer has fallen upon us on the upper Madison River; with cooler temperatures predicted for the next few weeks Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks have officially lifted the Hoot Owl! The main water temperature gage at Kirby has been consistently fluctuating between around 60-68 degrees. This week has several cooler days predicted with a chance of rain that will surely bring the water temperature down to more optimal levels for the trout. Montana FWP’s decision to lift Hoot Owl will help spread the angling pressure throughout the day. The lower Madison from the Ennis Dam down to the Missouri River (Mile 0-40) is still struggling with warmer than optimal temperatures, and will remain on hoot owl for the time being.

The streamer and nymph fishing in the morning has been pretty good throughout the whole upper river. If the sun is high and overhead in the late morning through the afternoon, the terrestrial bite starts to turn on (Hoppers and Ants). The dry fly bite has been a bit inconsistent depending on the day. We have been seeing lots of smaller fish eating the dry, with patience comes reward, as there have been some moments of glory with bigger fish slurping a big hopper off the surface. Aiming for the banks is always a good bet when fishing a hopper; but the Madison is known for holding some nice fish in the middle seam lines, gravel bar edges, and deeper buckets out in the middle. Even with the water temperature being on the higher side of ideal, there have been some very aggressive fish showing no signs of lethargy.

Favorite Flies for the Week

Streamers- Mini Loop Sculpin (natural), Trevor Sculpin, Dungeon (olive, black, white), Sparkle Minnow (copper, smoke), Peanut Envy, Bugger, Screamer(white)

Nymph- Prince (#12-16), Yellow Spot jig(#12-16), Psycho May (olive #16), Jig PMD (#16), Hammer Head (green, #14) Lighting Bug (#12-18), Copper John (red, #14), Perdigon (pearl/orange, #16)

Dry- Stubby Chubby (#14) Parachute Ant (#16) Detectable Cinnamon Ant (#14) More Or Less Hopper(#10) HI-VIS Hopper(#12) Morrish Hopper(#10) Purple Haze (#16) Royal Wulf(#16)

We are still seeing lots of pressure on the river so expect to see some crowding at ramps in the afternoon. Be patient and help others out when you can at the ramp so that everyone can pull out in an orderly and efficient manner. We also urge you to practice proper fish handling. Get those fish in quick and keep them 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 Finn Histon