The Madison River is famous for the annual Mother’s Day Hatch. As the pandemic restrictions are being lifted, I went for an afternoon of fly fishing along the Lower Madison. I was not alone, but social distancing and outdoor fresh air was acceptable. This was my 3rd attempt at catching the caddis hatch exactly right. The Mother’s Day Hatch can be a Mutha!
All the fly fishermen had the fever, but not from the Covid 19 virus. The area near the Warm Sprigs fishing access can be hot with caddis at this time of the year. When the conditions are right, caddis hatches can explode. Every fish in the river is on the surface with their big mouths anxious for a bite.
Each trip has been different. The water level, clarity, temperature, and conditions have been different. I have seen huge numbers of bugs and no rising fish on my first trip. Baetis and caddis were abundant but the fish I caught were on nymphs and streamers.
My second trip was the opposite. The water was dirty, but fish were pigging out all over the river, especially in shallower water. My third trek was also full of bugs but virtually no fish in shallow water. The action was in the main river. The wind made fishing harder, but the fish were along the seams and pockets as expected. The larger, size 12 caddis flies, allowed me to see my fly and strikes.
It is important to take your time. The fish seemed to be selective and required a clean, drag free drift. Use a decent floatant and desiccant powder to keep your fly afloat. I also tried fishing streamers. A Madonna worked quite well when fished as a nymph or as a streamer. Several of my larger fish could not resist.
Almost all the trout that I caught were in perfect condition. Only a few had any evidence of hook scars or poor Catch and Release technique. The trout fought hard and were beautiful.
Conditions will continue to change daily. Weather, changes in the flow, and luck will all impact the fishing. Changes can also jumpstart the fishing. Several fishermen that I have talked to were skunked. “Lots of bugs but the fish aren’t hungry!”
Fish are always eating. Sometimes you need to change the menu or presentation. Moving to a new spot can also make a difference. Do not accept getting skunked. This is the season when you can learn to be a better fly fisherman!
Feed the fever!
For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.