February 14th, 2019
When air temperatures drop to below zero for an extended duration we see the ice gorge phenomenon occur rapidly on the upper Madison River near Ennis. The gorge as we like to call it, forms when the river water freezes to the consistency of a blended margarita and begins to stack up at Ennis Lake.
In the days leading up to the gorge we started to see O’Dell creek push over it’s banks at the Valley Garden fishing access site. The creek was flowing through the campground! The next day the ice had stacked up so much below the Ennis town bridge that the Madison breached its banks in the big bend above the town campground, diverting the flow to the east and almost over the highway. The last time I checked, the gorge had pushed almost to Varney Bridge. So here’s the big question: Where do the fish go!?
We’re currently in a nice break from the below zero temperatures experienced last week. You couldn’t ask for a nicer winter day here on the upper Madison River. With calm overcast skies we’re looking for heads to be poking up right about now above Pine Butte.
Today and tomorrow should be the best opportunity for the next while as we dip back down to below freezing temperatures. Mild winter conditions offer some of the best dry fly fishing of the year on the upper Madison River. It is all about the midge right now. Look for fish to start lifting their noses out of the water around 11AM. Your 4wt and a 10ft leader down to 5x is ideal.
Come 2PM or so you’ll see the fish come off the surface as the hatch subsides. That’s a good time to plunge a girdle bug and small flashy nymph behind the boulders. Make sure to use plenty of spit shot to get you in the zone.
If you’re looking for something a little different you could head over to the Ruby to fish below the damn. Or consider going into the Bear Trap for more dry fly fishing and some European nymphing.
Wherever you are, we hope you get out there for some winter fishing!