Just a quick report before I run out the door. Yesterday I floated the Yellowstone with hopes of finding trout eating beatis in the back waters and eddies, but the sun quickly snuffed that idea out. So it was all nymphs and dead drifted streamer for most of the day.
Today I took my trout starved wife, Sarah, to the Madison for a few hours of fishing in the Varney bridge area. After being on the water for an hour or so, Sarah rolled a rock and found a good half dozen small stoneflys and one large one. Sure enough, a little brown rubber leg was the ticket to fooling several nice sized fish. Spring is here and the trout are shifting out of their winter habits.
Yesterday I took Mary Seed and her son Miles to the lower Madison for my first guide trip of the 2013 season. Miles caught his fist fish on the fly on his third cast of the day. Not a bad way to start the season. But the lower being the sensitive stretch of river that it is, the fishing slowed down when the sun popped out an hour or two after putting in. That's when the guessing game of "what fly will the eat now" began. I found no consistency in what they would take.
It's getting late in the summer and the trout are getting smart. They've seen hundreds of drift boats, thousands of foam grasshoppers, and an army of gortex clad wade fishermen. But this doesn't mean the fish are uncatchable.
Thanks to all of the big bug crazed fisherman running to the upper Madison, the lower was almost void of anglers and full of cooperative trout. Nothing much has changed, bead heads and buggers. The White Miller caddis were coming pretty heavy when we were pulling off the river tonight.
The lower Madison is still fishing really well as long as you get out before the inner tubers start bumbling aimlessly down stream. The summer floaters have decided the the water is warm enough to invade the river. Get out early, and if you can, try to fish on the week days for peace and quiet. This week, bead heads seemed to be the ticket.
Rain, warm days, cold nights, back to rain, and then back to warm days. Combine that with river levels being spiked 500 cfs every day for 5 days straight and then dropped 1000 cfs two days later, and you get fish with a serious case of lock jaw. Those sort of inconsistent conditions are a night mare for fishermen looking for trout on the lower Madison, especially when it's the only fishable water in the area.
Though not all of the rivers are high and muddy yet, they soon will be. This is the time of the year that anglers start looking to the clear waters of our local public and private lakes to get that trout itch scratched. Have a fist full of leach, callibaetis (dry & nymphs), scuds, and chironomid patterns. With a few rivers out there still running clear, the lakes haven't been hit that hard yet, so the trout are a little less picky.....For now.
With inconsistent weather, you get inconsistent fishing. We all had high hopes of solid fishing with the return of seasonal weather, but what we got was big caddis hatches and spotty fishing. If you're on the Yellowstone, you can find fish eating bugs in the foam that forms in those big back eddies closer to Livingston. The fishing the last few day up stream, from mid-valley to the park, has been quite a struggle. Even when the caddis are coming off in large numbers, very few fish have been targeting them.
In my opinion, March and April can be some of the best fishing of the year. The pre-spawn rainbows are aggressive and moving out of their winter haunts and looking for love. The brown trout are on the feed bags and recovering from the long fall and winter spawn season. Local fishermen should be taking advantage of these opportunities while the rivers are free of the summer angling pressure. Those looking to stay on their feet should be heading to the Gallatin or the lower Madison. Rubber legs and small bead heads should be in your box for the Gallatin.