Stick With It!

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

August 2021
Updated 8/12/2021

The bite on the upper Madison has been hit or miss the past few days. Streamer fishing in the morning and dry dropper fishing in the afternoon seems to be the program this past week. If you’re searching for quality fish, I would recommend giving streamers a go. Dead drifting sculpin patterns under an indicator or stripping larger articulated streamers has produced some solid fish in the mornings and early afternoon. Mini loop scuplinsCoffey’s sparkle minnowpearl zonkers, and sculpzillas have all been great options for dead drifting under an indicator. If you’re looking to strip streamers I would recommend scaling up and fishing larger patterns such as the barley legalsilk kitty, or sex dungeon. Try throwing darker colors like olive and black in the early morning then switch over to lighter more flashy patterns as the sun gets higher. If you stick with the streamer fishing expect to see quality over quantity in terms of fish size and number.

The hopper fishing remains fairly inconsistent. Some good reports on the hopper bite here and there but nothing to write home about. With the Hoot Owl restriction still in effect try focusing on fishing hoppers in the 11 - 2 o’clock window. Try tagging a dropper nymph or ant pattern behind the hopper to keep things interesting. Our favorite hopper patterns have been the sweetgrass hopper, royal chubby, thunder thigh, grand hopper and panty dropper hopper. For ants try throwing parachute ants, delectable cinnamon ants or a royal wulff behind the hopper on some 4X nylon tippet. If they aren’t looking at the hopper or ant much try swapping the ant out for a dropper nymph. Yellow spot jigs, olive perdigonsjig princesdelectable spankers and pink frenchies in sizes #14 and 16 have been working best as a dropper. Tag those under the hopper about 2-3 three feet on 4X fluorocarbon for the best results. Most of the action has been right off the bank or around the rocks just off the bank. However, don’t underestimate the smaller buckets and gravel bars in the middle of the river as they are holding some fish as well.

As mentioned earlier, the Hoot Owl restriction is still in effect on the Upper Madison. Please be sure to respect the rules and have your lines out of the water by 2PM. 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 John Kelley


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