Migrating browns make for the best streamer fishing here. Best walk-in locations on the Madison River are between from Raynolds Bridge downstream, between Quake and Hebgen lakes, and in the river above Hebgen Lake to the Yellowstone Park boundary. Browns are migrating to spawning areas in the Beaverhead River. Float fishing is the best way to encounter these in the river below Clark Canyon Dam. Wait a few weeks for the peak of brown trout migration into the South Fork of the Madison River.
The Madison River is back to its fabled self for the time of year. The big stoneflies have arrived in the reach between Hebgen and Quake lakes, so fly-fishers are concentrating there. Below Quake Lake a great strategy is to concentrate on presenting nymphs (From rubberlegs to caddis pupa) in the AM, then with early PM warming switch to dry fly fishing where caddis and stoneflies of all sizes are bringing up fish. Don’t overlook presenting ants and beetles. Hebgen Lake trout seem to be taking midge pupa and some on the surface. Maybe they are getting in practice for the upcoming gulper season. Fishing on Clark Canyon Reservoir is improving but spotty. Midging seems the best approach. The Beaverhead River with a bit lower than normal flows offers some of the best fishing around with golden stones, PMD, and caddis bringing trout up.
A few gulpers are showing on Hebgen Lake. The Madison River below Quake is still running high but is beginning to clear. Streamers and San Juan worms are taking some good fish. They don’t pay much attention to the big dries that are commonly fished this time of year when there are plenty of things to eat on the bottom. But the big stoneflies are working their way up the river as it clears and drops. So look for patterns for them to soon be effective. Want to fish a great small stream here? Try the West Fork of the Madison River. It’s clearing and dropping, so wet and dry attractors will be effective.
All streams around Yellowstone Park feature high water. That includes the Gallatin River and most of the Madison River above Ennis Lake. Big stoneflies may be active here, but big question is will trout full of annelids respond.
High water has slowed fishing in Clark Canyon Reservoir. Midging in water around ten feet deep brings some action. Best fishing on the Madison River is between Hebgen and Quake lakes, but half the world’s fly-fishers are there. The Beaverhead River is good fishing thanks to PMD and yellow sally activity. Giant stoneflies are out on the Big Hole River.
Best fishing here is for those anglers following the Hebgen Lake midge emergence. Try shallow waters in any of the arms or west side bays with your favorite pupa patterns and a strike indicator. There is good nymph and streamer fishing in Madison River below Hebgen Dam, but it gets crowded. Also, ‘bows there are finishing spawning so are not in top condition. All regional shops ask that anglers avoid crossing or disturbing redds here. And that is for good reason–they hold much of our future fishing.