Rising Tides

I think it's safe to say we're starting to see signs of runoff coming our way. The Yellowstone is already off color, and the Madison is creeping up higher and higher with each passing week. Oftentimes these conditions spook anglers off, but for those who aren't intimidated, it's a fishy time of year. This week we've got a report from the one and only Will Connoly, who probably fishes more than all of us, and certainly has as much passion about fly fishing as anyone I know.

Will hails from Richmond, Virginia, and has been fishing as long as he can remember, although he only started fly fishing when he moved to Montana and has since become obsessed. He spends as much time as is humanly possible fishing without failing out of school (both hobbies have brought him close). He spends a lot of time traveling around the state fishing a variety of different waters. His favorite things are sushi and big brown trout.

"Hey everyone. Spring is happening right now in the Madison Valley. The grass is green, bugs are out, and the fish are eating. Fishing continues to be stellar. Starting to see more and more BWO’s around Ennis and on the Lower Madison. March Browns are also showing up on the lower and in numbers on the Jefferson. Weather forecast is calling for a cool, rainy week which could help or hurt the dry fly fishing depending on water temps.

Water temps have been lingering in the forties at Varney. Midge life is still happening. Baetis is too, but not enough to see fish coming up for them that often. We should start to see more rising fish here around town in the days to come. That being said, they will still look up. If you are floating near Ennis on a warm afternoon, try throwing on chubby with a dropper. We got a good number of eats on the chubby this weekend, albeit the girdle bug was the star player. If you’re on the bobber-double-nymph routine, try a girdle bug(ger) with a baetis dropper. Ju-ju baetis was a good one yesterday as well.

Three dollar area is fishing really well. The dry fly fishing has been day to day. Good weather and low wind are the two critical success factors for early spring topwater. If those two line up, you’ll probably see fish coming up. I would start with a nymph rig, but keep a fresh leader and some dry flies on deck. Still not seeing blue wings like we want to up there, but that will change soon.

Further up river, below Hebgen is fishing well. Note that the road from Campfire is still not open, but should ice off in the next few days. Girdle bug, zebra midge, worms, and pink will get it done and it could be pretty good. Wanna catch a whitey? Put on something flashy. All jokes aside though, same as Three Dollar, right weather and low wind will have fish eating midges on top. Dry fly suggestion? I start with something that my eyes can see followed by a #20 midge cripple or a griffith gnat. BWO as a lead dry might not be a bad idea…

Streamers? Day to day. With flows hovering around 1380, fish have a little room to spread out. Clouds are good, sun is bad. Weather forecast is calling for a cooler, rainy week so it might not be a bad time to pull out the seven weight and throw a streamer around. Reports of some success on the sparkle minnow and flashy stuff have been coming in from up river…"

1170 @ Hebgen
1430 @ Varney
1700@ Beartrap
Fly Suggestions:
Nymphs: Black or Olive Rubberlegs, Girdle Bugger, Disco Midge, Ju-Ju Baetis, Pink Blooms Weight Fly
Dries: Midge Cluster, Midge Cripple, #18-#20 Purple Haze, BWO cripple, March Brown Cripple
Streamers: Sparkle Minnow, Black Peanut Envy, Black Wooly Bugger