UPPER MADISON RIVER FISHING REPORT-04-10-14 (by Michael Stack of FishTales Outfitting LLC)
By angelamontana

Posted: April 10, 2014

Current Madison River flows

  • Hebgen Dam 963 cfs
  • Kirby 1,040 cfs
  • Varney 1,210 cfs

This Madison River rainbow ate a black Rubber legged stone fly nymph.

Very clear at 3+ feet.

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. The river now clear of ice, not all the boat ramps are accessible. Ennis FAS will remained closed until further notice.

Varney Bridge FAS boat ramp is now clear of ice and the launching of a drift boat not a problem. Both Eight Mile Ford FAS and Burnt Tree FAS are completely accessible and ice free. Be advised there is a tree across the center channel just below the “Mouse Hole” in the main channel heading towards Eight Mile FAS that is passable but not advised because of the speed of the river in this newer channel. Take either smaller side channel’s instead it’s safer.

Madison River flows have remained flat as evening temperatures below freezing are keeping the river very clear and fishing quite well. Although you can expect to see another bump in the flows as room is made for the expected larger than normal run-off, visibility should stay at least good through the rest of April and the fishing solid. The water temps have been the hitting the high 40’s F in the afternoons so the streamer fishing is really good at that time.

• Nymphing is still the most productive method for catching fish on the Madison River. A two fly nymph rig presented dead drift, under an indicator, with plenty of mending to slow down your presentation is my recommendation.
• Stone flies remain my “go to” first fly . Rubber legged patterns like a Pat’s Stone in black and brown #6-10 are tough to beat.
• Midges are the primary small food of choice and you can expect to see them on the surface once the sun has warmed the river. Midge larva patterns in black, red and purple in #14-16. Red Copper John’s.
• Baetis nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs #14-18. San Juan Worms and Disco Worms in red burgundy and purple #6-10.

• Midges are still the main dry fly game but Beatis starting to show and trout are eating them sporadically in softer water along inside edges and back eddy’s. Cloudy, calm days will always be your best days for dry flies action.
• Try a Parachute Adams, Griffith’s Gnat or Midge Cluster #14-18. Tie a Zebra midge, emerger, or bead-head Pheasant Tail #14-18 15” below your dry fly.

Steve shows us a slabby Madison River rainbow.

Steve shows us a slabby Madison River rainbow.

• Streamer bite has picked up, better in the afternoon . Slower retrieves and dead drifting in the morning then after the water warms a faster strip across the middle of big runs is catching some nice brown’s.
• Still no visibility issues on the Madison so I recommend Sculpin patterns in olive, natural or brown or combination.
• Try a Sculpzilla, Exasperator, Zonker, Flash Fry, Mini-Loop Sculpin, Wooley Sculpin or Boogie Man #2-6 Check my Top Ten Streamer’s for SW Montana for a more thorough list.

The rainbow trout are spawning, so if you see patches of bright gravel, watch your step, and please stay clear! Also be aware of winter fishing hazards like rapid weather changes. Remember to be prepared with appropriate winter 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.