Fishing wise, not too much has changed since our July report. The weather has been a different story though! With no measurable rain since July 11th we welcomed a strong low pressure system that brought significant rainfall and cool northerly winds last week. As of right now we are sitting in the high 70s to low 80s, and couldn’t ask for better river conditions.
Madison River trout are happy as can be with flows just above 1,200 CFS and relatively low water temperatures. This has had an amazing effect on the dry fly fishing with terrestrials and the occasional nocturnal golden stonefly being the preferred insects.
While the hopper activity slowed a bit, the main focus is flying ants. The flying ant hatch on this river is second to none. Humid conditions as of late has got the ants buzzing on warm afternoons. The ant patterns should fish well into the evening, especially when the breeze is blowing and air temperatures begin to drop. It is hard to beat a cinnamon or black ant with a white parachute or CDC wing. Dan Delekta’s CDC ant is great bet. Just watch your fly carefully. A lot of smaller fish will rise to a fly this time of the year, but it is the big ones you should stay focused on. Some of the biggest fish in the river will have an unbelievably subtle rise form. Set the fly if you see it disappear from the surface and never tell yourself it’s just a small one because those big fish will catch you off guard. If the ant isn’t producing takes for you, try a small chubby pattern in various colors for nocturnals or hoppers.
The nymph fishing has been steady. Anglers have had to cycle through various patterns throughout the day as fish seem to key on a certain profile or color one minute and then off the next. The standard Madison River patterns should produce. Try Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns, Lightning Bugs, Shop Vacs or lil’ Spankers.
Streamers have been hard to beat. Some nice fish are eating the 3-4″ sculpin patterns well. Casting to the banks and swinging them down river will have its moment. You can also try dead drifting them under an indicator for good results. Black and/or olive has been the hot colors. If you want to cover some water you can try some articulated patterns fished on a sink tip. Your 7wt will come in handy right now! Work your way up river and make short, quick casts along cut banks and behind boulders. Don’t overlook the super skinny stuff either because they’re in there too.
We keep bringing up the weather, but it plays a significant role in a days fishing come late summer. Many times the fishing is best if the weather is a bit unsettled. The pond here on the ranch and other nearby stillwater fisheries are no exception to this. The reports lately have been very good with plenty of active fish cruising the shallows looking for calibaetis, damsel nymphs and leeches. You’ll still want to fish a pretty long leader so as not to spook them, especially on calm, sunny days. Consider rigging up with a slow sinking leader to keep your wet flies in the feeding depth longer.
That’s about it other than the small tributaries of the upper Madison River. Flows out of the mountains are nearing they’re summertime lows so it is the perfect opportunity for some fun dry fly fishing. Here on Jack Creek we’ve seen the fish eager to eat terrestrials and classic dries like the Royal Wulff, Trudes and a Parachute Adams. Talk about a good time!
If you find yourself out here in SW Montana, please let us know how the it’s going! If you’re elsewhere we’d still love to hear how the fishing has been for you so please send us a quick email or give us a ring. ~Enjoy!