Madison River Boat Ramp Update 2/13/17

The recent warm spell has a lot of anglers scrounging around their garages and closets searching for rod tubes and tippet. It's also led to an increase in phone calls to the shop requesting up to date information on which boat ramps are useable on the Madison right now. And in a winter where we've had a significant ice gorge along with plenty of snow and wind, it's a wise man who stops to consider these conditions before departing for the river. Legally speaking, they are all "open" however Mother Nature has rendered several of them unusable right now. Here’s an update on the Upper Madison:

 
Raynolds Pass Boat Launch And Fishing Access
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Oh, God no. Well, at least not without sweating profusely in your waders before you even get your feet wet and guides iced. But if you’re interested in fishing, man it looks saucey down there. A quick glance over the bridge revealed a lot of spotted trout backs hanging in boulder eddies. 
 

 

Pine Butte Undeveloped Launch Area

Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Yes! With a little bit of creativity and scoping out an exact launch spot, you can easily launch a raft, and a drift boat. You might have to push the vessel over some snow. If you’re just wading, the fishing here is great right now. *Be sure to scope out your take out location prior to launching.

 

 
Lyons Bridge Boat Launch And Fishing Access
 
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Umm, maybe. Depends how hard-core you really are. Rafts are obviously easier, and you have two options with a drift boat. Option one involves dumping your boat down the short snow bank off the bridge road on river left immediately after crossing the river. Once you’ve got it down in the parking lot on the snow, continue sledding on down the ramp. The turnaround in the boat launch area is starting to open up and you can go all the way in there and turn around, but the snow is quite deep and soft in spots and you can’t quite drive to the ramps themselves yet.  *Be sure to scope out your take out location prior to launching.
 
 
Windy Point Boat Launch And Fishing Access
 
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Yep. Very easily. This launch requires no oversnow effort or mad trailer backing skills. It’s clear as a bell... For now….*Be sure to scope out your take out location prior to launching.
 
 
Palisades Boat Launch And Fishing Access
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Negatory! Abort mission. Major drifts in several locations exist right now on the road down to the launch. The first one is doable, but the second drift (pictured above) is a doozy. Not a bad place to walk down and fish though…
 
 
Ruby Creek Boat Launch And Fishing Access
 
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Definitely. There's a very thin sheet of ice as you can see, but by tomorrow I'd bet this thing is gone. Either way, it's no match for a drift boat trailer anyway. An additional nugget: Across the river is a sick sledding hill (Black Diamond?) if you’re feeling extreme. X-Games speed is likely. You might even build a kicker to jump that small stretch of grass. Wear a helmet (and possibly waders?). *Be sure to scope out your take out location prior to launching.
 
 
McAtee Bridge Boat Launch And Fishing Access
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? All systems go. No problem here. The fishing is pretty darn good around here too. *Be sure to scope out your take out location prior to launching.
 
 
Storey Ditch Boat Launch And Fishing Access
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Not recommended. The ditch itself is still pretty frozen. It could clear quick. Stay tuned...
 
 
Varney Bridge Boat Launch And Fishing Access
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Well, that’s a tricky thing… If you're planning on taking out here, no problem. However! Launching may be a different story. We don't know what current river conditions are like between here and 8 Mile since the gorge has only just begun receeding. I would give it a little more time for any potential constriction point ice jams to thaw downstream of Varney. Also, currently no boat launch downstream is accessible to load up your drift boat (Namely 8 Mile and Burnt Tree) if you decide to launch here. So, DEFINITELY scope out your take out prior to launching. And be careful if you do launch here to keep an eye out for log jams that might have been created by the ice gorge. 
 
 
8 Mile Boat Launch And Fishing Access
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Launching not recommended!! It might be possible to load a raft around some bushes about 20 feet to the left of this photo. But challenging. This launch is still covered in a pretty big chunk of ice. NOTE: If you launch here, you MUST take out at Burnt Tree until further notice. Ice jams are still prevalent downstream from Burnt Tree.
 
 
Burnt Tree Boat Launch And Fishing Access
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Do NOT launch here. Currently if you launch here you will run into a serious and deadly problem somewhere above Ennis. There’s still a wall of ice downstream and none of the downstream ramps or FAS sites are open yet. You could take out here now though if you have a raft and can do some heavy lifting. Not recomended for drift boats at all. There's some sweet new buckets that were created by the ice gorge in this area that are easily accessible by wading anglers. Looks fishy!
 
 
Ennis Boat Launch And Fishing Access
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? Ha! That’s funny. This one may be quite a while before it’s open. There’s currently a channel of the river flowing through the entrance road and will require some road maintenance when conditions allow.
 
 
Valley Garden Boat Launch And Fishing Access
Can I launch/load a drift boat or raft? NOT HAPPENING for at least another 2-3 weeks or more.