Lower Madison Fishing Report
Reports have been all over the board lately here. Shop guy Neil had a great evening below the dam last night with many nice browns falling to streamers. The evening bite seems to be more consistant through Bear Trap. Yellow sallies are out, as well as plenty of caddis. In the higher flows of last week, the bank bite was good on crayfish and worms, as flows drop back down, we have been doing better in the mid-river buckets, shelves and seem lines. Island tailouts provided some great fish recently. Look for that slightly slower type water surrounded by the faster stuff. Maybe some drakes showing up down lower? Every now and again.
As of yesterday at about 4PM, the Lower was big, but green and looking pretty fishy. I saw two boats hooked up on fish. Find areas with a current break, such as shelves, boulders, eddies, tailouts, and slower seems. Not as many caddis out as last week, but still a few especially in the evenings. The crayfish bite is good in the deeper water, add some wieght to get it down in a hurry, and keep it there as long as possible.
Floated the Lower yesterday and experienced one of those rare "no-wind" sunny types of days over there. Despite the slight increase in flows, the water was a beautiful green color with about 1.5+ feet of visibility. After changing flies back and forth a few times, the bite was best on the light colored crayfish patterns. Mostly brown trout, either pulled off the banks in the slightly faster deeper edge water, or especially in the deeper slower buckets behind the weed bed shallower stuff. Lots of BWO's flying around but didn't see much for risers with the bright sun. ALSO SAW A LOT OF REDDS (fish nests) so please skirt around them and concentrate on the deeper water for now so we can have lots of trout in the next generation too! The trout really were particular about the good dead drift on that crayfish so make sure your mending and line control is spot on if you are not seeing the success you think you should.
The wind has been nuking over there lately, but for those diehard guys, the fish haven't seemed to mind. It seems that 90% of the fish are still in 10% of the water, so work through the shallow stuff quick and concentrate on the spots where it gets a bit deeper and slower. A big split shot and a crayfish is a good starting point. Try running a small worm or bright firebead ray charles off the back by about 12 inches.
Crayfish are to trout as cheeseburgers are to shop guy Tyler right now. We have been experimenting with some heavier patterns lately to get down in a hurry. Search out transition areas where fast water slows down, either due to structure or depth. Droppers including fire bead sow bugs, small bright worms, and midge stuff too. Maybe some heads up top if the W stays down?
We fished the Lower Madison yesterday, in the Blacks Ford area. The fishing was steady, but only in a specific type of water. Really study the surface of the water, as the good runs are not always very obvious. Anywhere the water surface goes from a fast chop to more of a glassy slower walking pace, this is where you should be fishing. The smoother water often will hint at a deeper run with a bit less current speed. A great way to fish the Lower right now is to run-and-gun from your car, bouncing between dead stretches and fishing those deeper slots.
Very icy and slushy still with the exception of right below Ennis Lake dam. Here you will find open fishable water no matter the temps. Crayfish or zirddle bugs trailed with a firebead scud or red copper john would be good starting points. Maybe even a slow swung streamer on a sink tip through some of those deep scary buckets downstream of the footbridge...
A hike up Bear Trap Canyon is one of my favorite Fall time trips. The scenery is top notch, the crowds are not there, and the fish are usually willing to eat. I like to carry a streamer stick and a 4wt for small BWO's and Midge dries. Play the wind, go for a drive, check those weedy flats for sipping or tailing fish. Emergers perhaps? If it clouds up, I would be here.
Dodge the wind on the lower madison and be rewarded with some great BWO hatches. Or deal with the breeze while everyone else chickens out and strip some meat against the banks hunting for that one true predator brown trout. A hike up Bear Trap Canyon in the Fall can be worth it, not only will the fishing be good, but the scenery doesn't suck either with the underbrush turning many different shades of red yellow and orange. Well worth the effort.
Hoot Owl! From Ennis Lake Dam downstream to Three Forks, the river is closed to fishing after 2 pm. each day. The water is warm, but the fish have to eat at some point, right? Might be worth getting out to the river at first light and fishing for a few hours before work or before the tubers take over the river.
Flies: Crayfish nymphs, caddis pupa, zirdle bugs, sculpzillas, JJ Specials, lil' spankers