At long last April is here!! For much of the Eastern U.S. trout season officially opens on April 1st or thereabouts. We are fortunate that we can fish year-round here in Montana. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you would want to. Winter around here can be long and tough as we have been reminded this year. However, in spite of the current cold and snowy conditions spring is starting to show up intermittently and it is definitely fishing season. In fact, we have long considered April 1 to be the official unofficial start to our guide season which now runs through October. So come on. Let’s fish~! Here’s a recent review of what’s happening on the Upper Madison:
Girdle bugs, egg patterns, worms, bobbers and midges. That’s been the game the last few days/weeks here on the Madison and it’s probably gonna stay that way for a while. Many anglers are doing well staying close to Ennis. Floating 8 Mile or Burnt Tree to Town or Valley Garden. It’s been a great couple weeks of early spring - late winter fishing without the gorge locking up all the Fishing Access Sites with ice and snow and allowing anglers to float and wade pretty much everywhere. Even the lake is starting to thaw, and Clute’s is now open for boating.
Fish have been concentrated in the “A” water. Dark, deep green holes and buckets below the riffles. Haven’t had too much luck finding fish in the skinny water as of yet but it’s still early. Rainbow’s will start showing up there soon as they begin to spawn. We always encourage anglers to watch for Redds and try to avoid walking through them or fishing over them.
These days it feels like it’s all about water temperature with the better fishing happening as the water approaches and breaks the 40 F mark. The fish don’t seem to be chasing much yet. you’ll want to get the flies right in front of them so they don’t have to move to much to eat.That is not to say you can’t catch some good fish on streamers this time of year. You certainly can! Give it a try, and it just might produce the fish of the day.
We are also just starting tot see the first few Spring Beatis on area rivers. Look for much more of that in the days and weeks to come on the Upper and Lower Madison as well as the Ruby, Big Hole and Yellowstone. This will be followed by the Mother's Day Caddis toward the end of the Month and the mis-named March Brown hatch. You will also want to be on the lookout for the elusive Skwalla hatch. The Big Hole has a decent hatch and you can catch fish your size 6 and 8 Chubbies and Skwalla patterns. It also seems to be an "emerging" or improving hatch on the Upper Madison over the past 10 years or so. We are seeing more each spring. Hence the deadly effective #6 Turd. But be sure to give the big dry fly a try. Makes a great suspender/indicator for your rubber legs and smaller nympsh too.
Typical in the game of Trout fishing, bright sun doesn’t seem to help much. The catching will generally be better with some cloud coverage rather than the bright sun right now. But nobody around here is cursing the sun after the long cold winter we have had! But nobody can change the weather, so regardless of the conditions, get out and fish!
Our biggest takeaway from the past few days on the Madison is that the answer is probably... more lead! 3 BB split shot seems to be the right amount for the deep runs and holes. Stock up on flies though, because you are gonna lose a few!
Good Luck and Tight Lines!!