Anglers have caught on to the fact that the Madison River between Hebgen Dam and Cabin Creek has some of the best fishing in Montana. So this part of the river is becoming quite crowded. The river below Quake Lake is a bit discolored, but San Juan worm, streamer, and big nymph patterns will produce some results. Hebgen Lake AM & PM midge emergences are bringing action. The Gallatin below the Taylor’s Fork confluence is discolored and poor fishing. Try slump busters on Cliff Lake and big woolly buggers on Wade Lake.
Twin Lakes bluegills are getting quite active, but if crowds of anglers and others show up, try Lamont or Johnson reservoirs. Bluegills in these are waking up, too. Trout fishing in other reservoirs is approaching best conditions. Chesterfield offers best fishing near the dam where efforts around coves, shallows and willows bring action for those presenting small, dark leech patterns and damselfly nymph imitations. Most of lower reservoir has clear water. Fish the shallows in Daniels and Hawkins with dark colored leeches and damselfly nymph patterns. Fish in springfield Res. seem to respond best to midge pupa patterns. Try red zebra midges, black pupa patterns, and experiment to find taking depth.
No real change since our last report. Some surface action is possible on the Firehole from BWOs and caddis, but small streamers and nymphs bring the best action. Use streamers on the Madison River and its high water in the Park to get into Hebgen ‘bows returning to the lake.
Flows below Mackay Dam are ramping up (currently about 600 cfs), so fishing is very slow.
You will find non-stop afternoon action on Birch Creek when BWO’s and yellow sallys emerge. Right now it is the best of our small streams with clear, run-off free water. Take your lightest weight systems. It’s also a great place for a neophyte to “cut their fly-fishing teeth”. The Portneuf River is good fishing above the Pebble Creek confluence. A few PMDs are showing up to add to caddis which make for some top water fishing. Caddis and a few BWO’s make for some dry fly fishing on lower Warm River.
The shoreline combat fishing on opening day weekend will subside but will not totally die out around locations where fishing is good. The west side and in front of the cliffs currently seem to be the best places to find action. Look for good cutthroat populations in shallow water with hybrids & brookies staying deeper. Use your favorite leech and bugger patterns in shallow water, and present them on intermediate lines for the best chance of action. Use faster sinking lines when fishing deeper water.
Stonefly emergence has moved into Cardiac Canyon. So don’t overlook such as Bear Gulch, the Mesa Falls area, and Hatchery Ford. There will be some great action coming up somewhere around these places whether you float through or walk-in and wade. Warm River to Ashton is a good option for dry fly fishing, so bring your favorite adult stonefly patterns. The Grandview boat slide remains open until this fall, so using it to float to Warm River area is an option. Don’t overlook PM caddis emergences in the canyon. PMD’s are beginning to emerge on the lower river from Ashton Dam to Chester. Below Chester, the river is high and discolored and will stay that way until Fall River run-off subsides.
Flow out of Palisades Dam remains stable, and fishing from there through Swan Valley is good. The trick is to use nymphs (try rubberlegs!) and streamers around drop-offs & transitions. Same applies downstream into the canyon, but fishing here seems a bit slower. No dry flies of significance yet. We note that the river below Heise, in particular, has changed somewhat in character because of recent high water. If you plan to float through this section, consider scouting it from the sidelines a bit to note changes and to minimize surprises.
We continue to get great reports from the Henry’s Fork and the fishing. The stonefly hatch is moving up the river and people have been reported fish eating stonefly adults from Warm River down to Chester Dam. We received a email from a customer who had run into the owner of the Henry’s Fork Ranch, which is the Seely’s access below the Vernon Boat Ramp. We have been asked to pass this information and we feel it is important. This is what he had to say:
The owner of the Henry’s Fork Ranch visited with me Monday morning & wanted me to notify as many as I could about the parking arrangement at the end of his driveway just upriver from Chester ( The old Seely Boat Ramp) … Bill said on Sunday that two Drift Boats were drug up the bank & loaded at this location making a mess out of the natural spring that flows into the river there. He wanted to make it clear that he doesn’t mind the parking as long as it doesn’t become a problem. However launching, & retrieving your boat from this site is prohibited. He mentioned if this misuse continues he will no longer allow parking. I think that it is sad to still hear & see people who abuse the good nature of the land owners private, or public. When I talk to, or hear from those who criticize, & complain about the land owners who deny access to Public lands or River/ Water shed access via Private lands, I laugh & tell them that we ( Sportspersons & Anglers ) are loosing more & more access every year through the thoughtless actions, poor decisions, & negative behavior of a few individuals who obviously could care less about good Stewardship, & Ethical Sportsman like conduct. Such disregard is the main reason we are suffering loss of access & will continue to suffer.
Here at Jimmy’s All Seasons Angler we know that none of our customers would be guilty of activities that could deny future access. We also know that our customers love to fish, and they are always on the water. We would like you ask you all to help protect our privileges from these generous land owners, and help us educated individuals who are not aware of these regulations, rules and land owner points of view. To make our stance clear on this situation we are not advising you to get into a physical confrontation. We are only asking you all to help us educate others by informing them in a appropriate, tactful manner. Always feel free to contact land owners or the proper authorities, especialy if you feel uncomfortable. Remember that common sense and courtesy go a long way on the river and may even sustain the access you need to enjoy it.
Water conditions on the South fork are much better than we expected to see at this time of year. The flow from the Palisades Dam is 12,700 with a slight greenish tint. Water temp is in the mid 40’s. We have had our best luck on streamers fished on type IV full sinking lines or long 20 foot type 4 or 6 sink tips. The fish have been holding on the slower banks and pools. Our best technique is casting the fly straight at the bank from a boat and making a downstream mend. Let the fly sink and begin to swim (or drag) downstream. As the fly swings out begin stripping the sinking line back in. Some of the takes have actually been on the swing out before you begin striping the fly. Some takes have also been as you pull the fly from the river to recast.
Our best patterns have been:
#4 Clouser Minnows in a chartruese/white color combo,
Belly Ache Minnow in size 4,
Prince-of-a buggers (Brown) in size 4.
Galloup”s Sex Dungeon in size 2 (Olive or Black)
Stenersen’s Olive or Gray String Leech in size #6
Olive, Black or white Conehead Zuddlers in size4
We have also had good luck on a Bennett’s Rubber Leg with either a glo bug or San Juan Worm dropper. We using these flies on a floating line with and indictor.
One note about the lower river below Byington. The river has changed dramatically. Many of the channels we floated last year are dry and new ones have been cut. The same goes for tree and brush piles. Some have moved or have additions to them while other are completely gone. Please be carefull when you leave the main river to enter a side channel. If you are not quite sure about what might be ahead give yourself plenty of room and time to stop and look.