I can’t wait for spring. The snow has been falling, the polar vortex is blanketing the US, football is over, I officially have cabin fever. I have been sitting at the tying bench cranking out flies and letting my mind wander to days in shorts, rowing down the river soaking up the sun, and looking for trout poking there snouts through the surface and delicately slurping in insects.
The Madison River is one of Montana’s most iconic rivers. Many books, magazine articles and videos have been the focus of this famous river. It draws people all over the world to come and wade its waters or float the river though the scenic Madison River Valley. The upper river is nicknamed "the 50 mile riffle" for its shallow, fast moving freestone like water that the wild trout excel in. The lower river is a slow moving tailwater with a slightly different ecosystem but still with a healthy population of wild trout.
In our area, many of the rivers are high and off-color right now. We have to adjust the way we fish to not only get down to the fish but also have success. With the water being off-color we can get away with using stronger leaders and tippets and bigger, flashier flies. You have to get your flies in front of the trout and get their attention.
Later this month there will be a meeting to discuss the fate for the Madison River for commercial use. Here is the press release I received from Montana Fish and Wildlife this week.
I made quick plans with a fellow outfitter and buddy of mine to head out of town for a short fishing trip. We decided to run up to the Missoula area and check out the Bitteroot area to try hit the Skwala hatch. We had good reports of fish eating dries and it didn’t take much to have an excuse to get out of town and check it out. Plans were made, a few calls and a little research was done. We loaded up his camper and set out on the road with a drift boat in tow. We headed northwest and were excited about trout eating dries and spending some quality time on the river.
With winter still settled in here in SW Montana, fishing has come to a standstill for the time being. That doesn’t mean we aren’t thinking about fishing and the upcoming season. We are tying flies to fill the boxes, organizing the gear and re-ordering fishing supplies.