Salmonfly fever is upon us!
The hatch is in full swing on the Gallatin, Madison. Because the rivers have great water conditions for this year’s hatch. In typical fashion the epicenter of the hatch is making its way upstream on each river day by day. Knowing just where to be on the river at any particular point in time is tricky. Nymph ahead of the hatch? Trail the main hatch by a couple of days, or aim for the heart of it? It’s hard to say what the right choice is. Experience certainly helps, as does fishy intuition and a bit of luck. But regardless of whether or not the fish are gorged on the giant insects or are greedily devouring fluttering stonefly dries there’s a thrill to the chase.
Maybe you’ll hit it just right, or maybe you won’t. Covering a lot of water helps… over the course of a long float you’re likely to get into ’em at some point during the day – just remain focused on putting your fly where it needs to be. Once you find feeding fish, slow down and cover the water thoroughly… many anglers make the mistake of leaving fish to find fish.
Hitting the salmonfly hatch just right is an incredible experience
But it can take years of chasing the hatch to experience a truly epic day. You can put the odds in your favor by spending as much time as possible chasing the hatch, or if you only have a day or two to fish you’ll benefit from hiring an experienced guide.
The middle and upper reaches of the Gallatin are fishing very well right now. With dry fly action early and late (and sporadically throughout the day if you’re willing to stick with it) and a consistent nymph bite all day long. We’re seeing good action on caddis, particularly in the mornings with a simple X-Caddis or Elk Hair Caddis in size 16. Yellow sallies are out, and anglers can pick up fish on a yellow-bodied Stimulator in size 14 .The PMDs are emerging daily as well and anglers should come prepared with a handful of Sparkle Duns in sizes 16 and 18.
The bulk of salmonflies and golden stoneflies have moved upriver.
South of Big Sky, but some stragglers can still be found throughout the canyon and the fish will still take large stonefly dries on occasion. With all of the bugs on the water the attractor dry-fly fishing has been good. Particularly those patterns of the down-wing variety (roughly imitating caddis and stoneflies). For this reason Trudes and Stimulators in various colors and sizes have been effective. As for the nymph bite, the bigger stoneflies have been of less importance lately and we’re seeing a shift towards caddis and mayfly patterns along with some action on yellow sally nymphs.
As runoff has subsided, the fish have returned to familiar haunts such as the Grasshopper Hole, Glacier Rock Hole, the Slick, Gilligan’s Island and many others. These aren’t places you’ll find on any map, but rather the names that our guides have bestowed upon some of the river’s best fishing holes. If you’re interested in having one of our guides show you the best of what the Gallatin has to offer, drop us a line or give us a call (800-423-4742) to book your dream trip and let us do what we do best… put people on fish!