The glory days of summer have arrived.
If it hatches on the Madison, there is a good shot that it is hatching right now. Salmonflies, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, Caddis, clouds of PMD Mayflies, and even some Drakes are abundant. Action on the Salmonfly continues to be productive, but fish are beginning to key in on Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, and other bugs as the Salmonfly hatch begins to wane down.
Currently, Salmonflies can be found from Windy Point all the way up through the Slide. It is best to fish the banks where the fish are keyed in and looking up. An overhanging willow, for example, is a good spot to drift through. Whenever fish are not as willing to go after the Salmonfly, attach a Golden stone or Yellow Sally imitation about two feet behind it. Oftentimes the fish will take a look at the Salmonfly, notice the trailing bug and go for that one.
Nymphing, as always, continues to bring good fish to the net. Fish behind boulders and riffles throughout the river. Pat’s Rubber Legs, Prince Nymphs, Hare’s Ears, Frenchies, and Duracell jigs are nymphs that have treated me well in the past week. Fish nymphs of any size, but it is best to go with one nymph with a tungsten bead to help get the nymphs down in the water column. The Madison is a swift river, and it may be necessary to add some split shot to the nymph rig to get the bugs in front of the fish.
In spite of the plethora of insects to choose from, there are still fish eating streamers. A black wooly bugger is hard to beat anywhere, anytime, for any species of fish. Trout in the Madison River are no exception, and dead-drifting a weighted wooly bugger under an indicator with a smaller nymph trailing close behind will do the trick. For me, an unweighted Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear behind the weighted wooly bugger does marvels.
Get out and fish. We wait for these days all year long, and you may regret taking a day off from fishing during this time come winter. Commit to the flies that give you confidence and stick with them. As important as fly selection is, presentation is even more important. Get a good drag free drift and watch that indicator plunge or dry fly get destroyed by a hungry Madison River fish.
PSA: Remember to practice safe fish handling and keep them wet. Water temperatures are high and these fish are worth a lot more than just a photo. Let's all be good stewards to the river and its inhabitants!
- MRFC Guide Michael Taszarek