If you’re a fan of chocolate milk I can guarantee that you’ll love the Madison this week. Runoff has arrived in the valley and our water is looking extra murky. Flows have been between 1400 - 1700 cfs on the Upper Madison near Cameron, almost 300 cfs lower than the median daily average recorded over the last 24 years. The forecasted temperature this week could put us into the 90’s so it is safe to assume that peak runoff will ensue within the next three to four days.
Streamers have proven to be effective over the last week. Focus on fishing your fly low and slow. While flashier streamers have triggered some excellent fish, black and olive are still producing. Sparkle Minnows, Peanut Envys, and Dungeons are all viable options to throw through the low water clarity.
Nymphing has caught us the most fish during runoff. Turn over a few rocks on the Upper and you’re bound to find a plethora of worms. Hot nymphs have been Wire Worms, San Juans, Mega Princes and Rubber Legs. Make sure you’re using weight to get your nymphs down where the fish are.
Dry fly fishing has been about as effective as herding a bunch of cats. Surface activity has slowed significantly within the last few days. Caddis have been consistently hatching on the river but it has been difficult to make fish commit. Focus your efforts on a subsurface pursuit if you plan on fishing this next week.
Onto the topic that has us quaking with anticipation, Salmon flies. The big show is imminent, expect salmon flies to arrive near town within the next two to three weeks. Salmon flies run out quickly here at the shop, so I highly recommend stocking up on your favorite pattern before they’re gone.
The river has had consistent traffic but anglers have yet to arrive in droves. In my opinion it is always worth it to go fishing, it’ll be even more worth it when you catch the unicorn and get to tell the chosen few that it happened during runoff!
PSA: Remember to practice safe fish handling and be respectful to the other anglers that you encounter on the water. Let's all be good stewards to the river and its inhabitants!
- MRFC Team Member Danny Eiden