UPPER MADISON RIVER FISHING REPORT 3.27.14 (by Michael Stack of FishTales Outfitting LLC)
By angelamontana

Posted: March 27, 2014

Current Madison River flows
Hebgen Dam 942 cfs
Kirby Ranch 1,020 cfs
Varney Bridge 1,150 cfs


Madison River rainbow’s like this are a lot of fun to try and hold on to.

Madison River rainbow’s like this are a lot of fun to try and hold on to.

Very good at 4 feet.

Current Madison River flows out of Hebgen Dam have been increased by 10% to make room for the forecasted run-off. Recent storms have enhanced the already “above average’ snow pack and although the flows have increased, visibility remains excellent as nighttime temperatures have remained below freezing.

The Upper Madison remains closed from Quake Lake downstream to McAtee Fishing Access Site (FAS) and again from Ennis FAS downstream to Ennis Lake FAS until the general season opener Saturday May 17th.

The Madison River is open to fishing between the lakes from Hebgen Dam to Quake Lake. The river is also open to fishing between McAtee Bridge FAS downstream to Ennis FAS. Although the river is now clear of ice, not all the boat ramps are accessible. Varney Bridge FAS boat ramp has a fair amount of ice and the launching of a drift boat a bit is dicey but possible. Eight Mile Ford FAS is completely accessible and Burnt Tree FAS is also ice free.

• Nymphing under an indicator will provide the most action. Set your indicator4-5 feet above your first fly and tie a dropper off of the bend of the hook or the eye of the first fly to the second with 15-20 inches of tippet. Add extra weight above the first fly tippet knot as necessary.
• Stone fly patterns are my “go to” first nymph pattern – Rubber legged patterns like a Pat’s Stone in black and brown #6-10.
• Midge larva patterns in black, red and purple and Copper John’s #14-16.
• Baetis nymphs #14-18.
• San Juan Worms and Disco Worms in red, wine and pink #8-14.

• Trout are rising to midges sporadically on warmer cloudy days. Look for rises in softer water along inside edges and back eddies.
• Try a Parachute Adams or Griffith’s Gnat or Midge Cluster #14-18.
• Try a Tungsten Bead Zebra midge or emerger tied off the bend of the hook of your dry if your dry fly isn’t responded to favorably.

• Streamer bite is getting better, more so on warm cloudy afternoons. We are catching some trout on a tight line and dead drift. Gripping and ripping it ain’t!
• The Madison is still very clear so I like to stick with streamers in olive, brown and natural with the exception of white.
• Zonker, Mini-Loop Sculpin. Wooley Sculpins and Chubby Muffins and Stalcups Flash Fry are also catching trout.
• Check my Top 10 Streamer’s for SW Montana for a more thorough list.

Kyle releasing a brown caught on a #10 natural Zonker

Kyle releasing a brown caught on a #10 natural Zonker

Spawning has begun for the rainbow trout so if you see patches of bright gravel, watch your step, and please stay clear! Winter fishing hazards like bank and drifting ice are still present. Always be prepared with appropriate cold weather fishing clothing. If you have studded boots or cleats… where them!


For more information on Montana fly fishing and guided fishing trips The Madison River please contact FishTales Outfitting.


(Report by Michael Stack-FishTales Outfitting LLC)