The Madison Valley has finally experienced a few days of 70+ degree weather and sunshine, and while we all have certainly been enjoying it (sunburn and all), it has prompted the beginning of run-off. Levels are up, and the West Fork has been dumping sediment and coloring up the mid-sections of river all the way through town. That being said, there is still good fishing to be had. For those who are not fans of dirty water, head up river to the wade sections around Raynold’s and Three Dollar. You will find the best water conditions there until/unless a big Cabin and Beaver Creek mud plug makes it through Quake Lake.
The most consistent way to pick up fish has been nymphing with a pink and red worms, plenty of weight and concentrating in the slower deeper water. For the dry-or-die anglers, there have been some fish rising to afternoon midges and BWOs in the upper reaches. March Browns and even some Skwalas are making their appearance on the upper as well, though not as prolifically as the long awaited Mother’s Day caddis on the lower. A #16 peacock caddis is all you need on the lower! The best opportunity for some top action has been in the evening once the sun goes off the water. For other reaches, I’m a fan of fishing a chubby with a dropper. If you’re gonna be staring at an indicator, might as well be an indicator that could also catch a fish. If streamers are your thing, the warmer water temps have fish becoming more active and willing to go after a larger meal. Go for the darker colors and aim for the bank with a not-too-fast retrieval.
With higher flows, there are some safety concerns, particularly with floating underneath the Sun West and Wolf Creek bridges. Use extreme caution, and call the shop first if you are unfamiliar with flows!
Speaking of Mother’s Day, watch out for Sandhill Cranes and Canadian Geese sitting on their nests…. they are protective! Chances are high that any island you should wade to or anchor on will have at least one nest. Be conscious, and allow space when you can. We are not the only ones who utilize the river! Also, being chased by a Sandhill Crane is more terrifying than one may assume…
Things can change quickly this time of year with the varying Rocky Mountain spring weather. Give us a call (406.682.5150) for up-to-date info on water conditions and hatches.