Fishing Report for September 2nd, 2014

Madison River

Dam: 974 cfs

Kirby: 1,180 cfs

Varney: 1,320 cfs

Clarity Update:  Cabin and Beaver Creeks have been putting a fair amount of mud into Quake Lake with the recent rains.  That mud plug made it through the outlet last night and we are now at about 2.5 feet of green visibility above the West Fork.

The weather patterns around Southwest Montana have been going through a bit of an identity crisis over the last two weeks– One day it will be bluebird and 84 and 24 hours later the clouds come rolling in and we have two days of showers with highs in the mid to high fifties.  While these aren’t the conditions that most people are expecting to fish in this time of year, they have certainly improved the quality of fishing many times over.  We have had great nymph fishing on midges and baetis nymphs on these cold, rainy mornings and have even seen our fair share of BWO emergences already.  Needless to say, the colder water temps and low-pressure fronts have provided for some excellent streamer fishing as well.  Early mornings and evenings are still your best bet, but when the clouds have settled in you can have action all day long.  Fish have been eating larger, articulated patterns a little better than they had earlier in the month but you can also do a lot of damage dragging smaller zonkers, and other various forms of bunny fur with a bead head behind them as well.

The forecast is calling for sunny skies and highs in the mid to high sixties for the rest of the week, which will be a nice change of pace from the heavy rains we’ve been experiencing as of late. The late-summer terrestrial fishing has actually been really good when hoppers and ants have had a chance to thaw and dry out a little.  Over the last two years our water temps have been a little too warm to provide that kind of quality dry fly fishing you would expect from the Madison in mid-August through early September, but again, the cooler nights and storm fronts have helped tremendously in that regard. That being said,  Cinnamon Ants and small attractors have been the name of the game lately.  We’ve been running patterns such as Bloom’s Parachute Flying Ant, Kelly’s Cinnamon Ant Acid, and the Delektable Cinnamon Flying Ant behind smaller hoppers anytime after 10:30 a.m. or so and picking up some quality fish both on and off-bank.  Yes…there are going to be a lot of little guys thrown into the mix but there have also been some really good fish looking up too.  While Hoppers have been getting a little less attention, they seem to be picking up more quality fish along the way.  If I could offer one word of advice when fishing hoppers, it would be this:  DON’T FISH THE SAME PATTERN ALL DAY LONG.  Change your size and color until your crack the code.  I usually carry an assortment of hoppers in pink, gold, natural deer hair, and flesh and have found that they will generally prefer one over the other on certain days.

Long story short, there is plenty of water in the ditch, water temperatures are great, and fish are eating well on all fronts.

Fishing Report August 13th, 2014

Madison River

Dam: 985 cfs

Kirby: 1,130 cfs

Varney: 1,300 cfs

The Upper is still fishing pretty well and the Nocturnal Stonefly bite is hanging in there for the most part. The big news over the last week is that we started seeing flight ants over the last three or four days.  If you have ever hit an ant flight you know that there are very few things that can top it, be it salmonflies, spruce moths, or even drakes.  Ants are a staple for trout this time of year but when the ants are recolonizing and the big females hit the water there is simply nothing that can compare to it.  We have still not seen a big flight, but the smaller males are everywhere out back right now, so make sure to stock your terrestrial box with some honey ants before hitting the water or you may be kicking yourself all the way back to the parking lot.  Some of our favorite patterns for imitating these are Cinnamon Ant Acids, Delektable Flying Ants, and Harrop’s CDC Water Wasp.

The nocturnal bite that usually ends around eight in the morning has been holding on well into the mid-morning some days. This has made for a pretty easy transition to the hopper ant combo, which you can hopefully fish out the rest of day. This week I have been doing well on the pink BLT hoppers above Raynold’s but most of the guides are still saying it’s been a marginal hopper bite below Lyon’s Bridge…small attractors and terrestrials (ants, beetles, etc) have been the way to go down there.

If you can’t get them to look up, then the nymph bite between Quake and the West Fork has been very productive with small serendipities, Green Machines, and midges.  It’s been getting a  little tougher in the float section, but you can still get it done most of the time.

Fishing Report for August 4th, 2014

Madison River

Dam: 1,040 cfs

Kirby: 1,240 cfs

Varney: 1,390 cfs

The Upper Madison is still fishing quite well, and not a whole lot has changed since our last report with the exception of the streamer bite.  We have noticed that some of our larger browns have been chasing articulated patterns with more regularity than in weeks past, but obviously mornings and evenings have been the most productive time periods unless you have the clouds hovering over you all day.  As far as patterns go, it’s been the usual suspects for the most part: olive envys, dungeons, and pecs in periods of low light and barely legals in the sun…we’ve had limited windows where natural has been the way to go, but that is usually during the first and last hours of true daylight, or what we refer to as “yellow light.”  During the heat of the day, you are still better off dragging zonkers, sculpzillas, or your fur of choice with a lightning bug or copper john off the back though.

However, throwing junk has not been the only reason to get up early– The nocturnal stoneflies are in full force from Three Dollar Bridge down to Ennis, and we’ve been having some incredible mornings below Lyon’s Bridge over the last week.  Most of the action has been from o’ dark -thirty until 8:30 a.m. but we’ve also had a few days where the bite continued well through the early afternoon hours.  Some of our best patterns have been #10 Chubby Chernobyls in gold and purple, #10 Fat Alberts in tan, and #10 Mr. Midnights in gray, but they will also take larger hopper patterns as well.  In addition to the nocturnals, we still have a few caddis and epeorus kicking around and small terrestrials/attractors are starting to make their way into the rotation a little more these days.

Nymphing continues to be your best option throughout the upper river if you are looking to rack up numbers, but I guess that is almost always the case no matter what time of year.  Rubber legs and other stonefly patterns are good early and late, but we’ve been having to go a little smaller in the wade section once the sun comes up.  Three Dollar and other serendipities are usually the most consistently patterns during August, and this year has been no exception.  Other honorable mentions are #18 lightning bugs and other small attractors,  shop vacs, olive hares ears, and #18 pheasant tails.  We still have decent numbers of caddis hatching throughout the wade section most evenings, but my guess is that that window of opportunity will be closing sooner than later.

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