Sandhill Cranes were spotted this week, arriving back from their winter vacation in friendlier climes. Redwing Blackbirds are now chirping from the willows. And, adult aquatic insects like Midges, BWOs, and Skwala Stoneflies are dancing on the riffles of the Madison for those hardy anglers willing to wet a line early enough in the day. Spring is definitely in the air, and apparently the water too...
Madison River Fishing Report
As I write this, it’s early in the morning and already 50 degrees, sunny, and wait for it…….calm winds. After a long cold winter, we’re soaking up any and all available sun rays right now, especially after the gray, soggy weather this past week. But it's fishing season, and we're all systems go now!
Everyday, more and more boat launches are seeing drift boats and rusty trailering skills on display along the Upper Madison. Red winged black birds have been spotted already and the fishing is picking up substantially, as the water temps have finally stopped bottoming out. The fish have seemed to key in on that and really started pounding those all important Skwala nymphs that are becoming more prevalent with each passing week.
After enjoying nearly two weeks of balmy spring like weather, we got a mild reminder that it is, in fact, still technically winter here in SW Montana. But the damage to the ice gorge between Varney and town is already done. More and more water is opening up, though still somewhat challenging to access. Heavy and massive ice sheets still blanket the river valley so use extreme caution when walking over or around it to reach the water. A big chunk collapsed under me near 8 mile and although I escaped with only minor scrapes to my hands when falling, it was a scary reminder to be very careful where you step.
It's been an incredibly spring-like February so far. We've seen the mid-50's a few times this week and the ice gorge is quickly breaking up between Varney and Ennis Lake. The water just looked too sexy this week to ignore any longer and we just had to float it. But with 8 Mile, Burnt Tree, and Ennis ramps still locked in ice, drift boats were out of the question.