UP IN SMOKE

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

July 2021
Updated 7/15/2021

Fire season has officially begun here in Southwest Montana. The Goose fire, approximately 30 miles south of Ennis, has been filling the valley with a decent amount of smoke over the past few days. However, the fishing has remained consistent given the current conditions. We are still recommending that you get on and get off the river early due to the high water temperatures in the afternoon. Make sure to get your fish in as quick as possible and keep them wet so we can maintain healthy fish populations for years to come. 

Fish are starting to show a little interest in hopper imitations. The hopper fishing is by no means in full swing yet, but it should be picking up here very shortly. Lots of smaller fish taking a crack at hopper patterns but if you stick with it you should be rewarded with a decent fish. Small royal chubbys, Triple Decker Hopper, and Water Walkers are all great options for hopper imitations. Highly recommend dropping a #14-16 Prince, PMD Jig, or Pink Frenchie below the hopper to pick up some extra fish if the dry fly bite is slow. PMD’s and Caddis flies are still coming off strong so do not be afraid to fish the small dry by itself or trail it behind a big foamy dry. 

Streamer fishing has been hit or miss. Have had some solid reports of good streamer fishing in the early morning. Classic sculpin patterns such as the sheila, mini loop and trevor sculpin patterns in olive or black fished right off the bank can produce some solid fish in the morning. As the day progresses and the sun gets higher try switching to lighter or more flashy patterns. Sparkle minnow, kreelex, sculpzilla and white buggers are some solid patterns to throw in the late morning/early afternoon. 

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 John Kelley


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