Fishing the Madison on a Storied Hatch
It's that time of year here in Southwest Montana... the Madison River Salmonfly Hatch has started here in the valley. This is the hatch we wait for all year, when the salmonflies grow their wings and get a short but sweet taste of flight, the big boys come out of their holes and feed on the surface, and the banks become thick with these three-inch flyers under the Montana summer sun.
Traditionally beginning in the last week of June and lasting for 2-3 weeks, the Hatch starts around Ennis and moves up-river to the Slide area and between the lakes. These few weeks are a great time to be on the Madison and it's a spectacle that all anglers should witness at least once.
Although Mother Nature rules the roost and always has the final say, give yourself a leg up by coming in prepared and stopping by our shop on Main Street in Ennis before you head out. Here are some hot tips from around the shop for fishing the salmonfly hatch on the Madison.
Commit to the dry game
Even if the bite is not hot in one area of the river, it could pop off just down-river at a moment's notice. If you're not getting the bite while chasing salmonflies, don't bail too early on the dry game. It could get hot without warning and different locations will fish differently. Once the fish start to digest their meal, dinner is back on!
Broaden your location
You don't have to be in the heart of the hatch to have a great day fishing salmonflies. You also don't always have to see them to fish them. Hit up the areas right above and below the hatch for less people and a good chance at catching some on the surface. Don't just key in on the banks, the middle gets good as well. Pressure from wading anglers on the banks gives floaters an advantage on hard to reach mid-stream holes.
Be here & do a little dance
This one is key. Plan to fish the Hatch for a few days, and try different areas and different times of day. Try out a little bit of a dance or twitch on your fly. When you get an eat, count to 3 or say "God save the queen" before setting the hook. They may be hungry, but they need a moment to eat before your hook is secure.
Whether you catch the biggest fish of your life or simply have a great time on your first Salmonfly chase, nothing beats a day of fishing under Montana's big sky. Make sure to stop by some of our local Ennis eateries to recap your day's adventures, and as always visit us for more information on this hatch. For info on hatches year round, visit our hatches page here.