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.