The upper Madison has picked up some color.
But that only seems to have improved the fishing. The West Fork has been pumping in a bit of mud and the Quake Lake outflow is contributing to some color above the West Fork. Visibility throughout the upper river is still good enough to allow for dry fly fishing .Midges are coming off in big numbers in the walk/wade section. So scattered baetis emergences have occurred from Ennis Lake to Hebgen Dam. With the slight warm-up in the forecast for the weekend, combined with cloud cover we could be in for a good weekend of dry fly fishing on the upper river.
Along with baetis and midge patterns, be sure to carry some March brown duns. As we should be seeing more of them in the coming days. If you’re having trouble tracking your #18-22 baetis or midge dry when searching likely pockets and banks, don’t be afraid to trail it off the back of a larger, more visible March brown or skwala stonefly pattern’s.The latter have been present on the river for a couple of weeks in spotty numbers.
Despite the increased bug activity
The dry fly fishing can feel a bit forced at times. Active risers are often few and far between, particularly on the float stretch of the river. Yet the fish are constantly on the feed subsurface. Nymphing anglers continue to do very well on the upper Madison. A variety of rigs and patterns are producing, but stoneflies, baetis, and caddis patterns remain highly effective. Double stonefly rigs have been effective, with many fish favoring slightly smaller patterns in peacock and black. Don’t be afraid to go a bit old-school with time-tested patterns such as the Carey Special or Halfback.
Streamers have been good for those who stay committed to it. The bite has been inconsistent most days, but will typically turn on at some point. It’s often necessary to rotate through colors and patterns until determining what the fish are willing to move for on any given day. Dark colors have been most consistent, but don’t count out white, yellow and flashy patterns.