May 2021

Updated 5/19/2021

Springtime in Southwest Montana is one of our favorite times of year to fish the Madison, although spring weather brings in a variety of weather and fishing conditions. The past couple of days have been very warm, even at elevation, bringing some color into the river with the melting snowpack. The water clarity in Ennis is now off color and brown but with the colder weather coming in for the weekend we might see a little clearing up until it warms up again. Up river from town, the water clarity is still fairly clear, especially above the West Fork of the Madison. The Flows near Cameron have jumped from (920 CFS) to (1430 CFS) throughout the week. The local weather station is expecting some colder days with some precipitation later in the week, this will most likely bring some clarity back into the river for a few days.


Dry Flies- The caddis hatch has been in full force this past week and we don't see any signs of them slowing down. Mixed in with the caddis we have seen a plethora of march browns, and a few skwalas and BWO’s here and there. (The cold weather will most likely shut the bugs down for a few day’s.)

Favorite Flies- Fin Fetcher caddis(#14), Missing Link caddis(#14), Peacock caddis(#16), Secret Stone Water Walker(#12), Chubbyness UV purple(#14), Antonio’s Adult March Brown(#12)


Streamers- The streamer fishing has been very productive, as usual on the Madison this time of year. With the water color not being crystal clear the fish don't have as much time and visibility to be picky, so they tend to eat bigger flies. Swinging through deep runs and throwing at the bank have been very productive tactics while streamer fishing.

Favorite Flies- Mini Loop Sculpin, Thin Mint Bugger, Peanut Envy(olive), Sparkle minnow(#6), Dungeon(cream, olive, or tan)


Nymphs- As usual the nymphing has been very good throughout the whole river, especially in the walk wade section above Lions bridge. In the other sections of river it has also been good and the water color allows you to get closer to the fish, making it easier for better drifts.

Favorite Flies- Rubber Legs (Back, and Coffee #8), Mega Prince(#6), French Dip(Green #14), Lightning Bugs(silver when sunny, gold when cloudy #14), Super Pupa(#14), Peeping Caddis(#14)


The Dam Under Hebgen lake has only been letting out (670 CFS) of water out so they can fill the lake and let cold water flow out all summer. Our snowpack is below the historical average and we will stay hopeful for precipitation to come, and keep the river flowing cool keeping the fish healthy.


PSA: Remember that Rainbow Trout are spawning right now on the Madison, and in all of our area rivers and streams. Please look out for Redds in the shallow gravel and avoid walking through them. Let's all be good stewards and good neighbors!!

- MRFC Guide Finn Histon