March 20th-March 27th | Madison River Fishing Report

Spring has sprung in the Madison Valley, which consequently means we start the week with a snowstorm and end with 70 degrees wading in shorts weather! The “W” factor (wind) in the valley was moderate this week, a mixture of calm in the morning and breezy in the afternoon or vice versa. The river is running at lower flows this time of the year with a spike of 700 cfs at Kirby Ranch earlier this week and ending with 643 cfs by Sunday. Do not let these flows discourage you from fishing as these flows make wading, especially on the upper river by Three Dollar and Raynolds Pass, a friendly and safer experience. Just be careful not to walk on the reds in the pea gravel. Boat navigation is possible if you are experienced in rowing in low flows and able to read the flow and follow the path in the deepest water. As it may be more difficult conditions for floating it is worth it as the people hatch is at a minimum!

The Delektable crew was able to break away from work and do a true fishing test on Sunday and oh! boy! what a beautiful day! Nymphs, fished in tandem with a #B split shot 16” above first fly and at some deeper holes wade fishing 2 or 3 #B shot, were the most productive means for catching, both rainbow and browns chomping down and of course some very healthy whitefish. Later in the day as the cloud cover came in, we switched to two single Streamers dead drifted with a little twitch that produced several nibbles and 3 successful catches. We also have reports from Three Dollar and Raynolds Pass that middle of the day to afternoon BWOs are working in the pools, slicks and behind the rocks if the wind is calm. If you find yourself getting beaten up by the fish and doubting your choices remember the worm hatch is always happening!

Nymphs: Delektable FB Braided Brownstone size #8, Delektable FB Hurless Stone size #8, Delektable FB Olive Mega Prince #8, Delektable Big Spanker Warrior size #18, Delektable Worm Red and Earthworm Brown Size #12

Streamers: Delektable Screamer Single White size #6, Bunny Buster #8, Mini Sculpin Natural Size #10, Mini Loop Sculpin Olive size #8

Dries: BWO Para-Sipper #18 & 20, ETHA- Wing Dun BWO size #18 &20

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February 3rd | Madison River Fishing Report

Happy February from the gang here at Beartooth Flyfishing. It’s been a great winter so far here in the Madison Valley. The valley is full of Elk and Deer which makes for some fantastic winter photos and wildlife viewing. Snowpack has been building and at this moment we are sitting at 95%. Keep up with the prayers for more snow and moisture as we can use all we can get after the low flows of last season. We’ve been busy at the shop working on Preseason orders. Dan’s been busy building rods. We will have some exciting things to see for the upcoming season to be sure.

The Upper River has opened back up after its temporary closure due to Hebgen Dam Malfunction in late 2021. The Ice Jam is on in full force from Ennis Lake upstream through Ennis and the lower fishing access sites. Angling pressure has been very low this winter as many anglers have been voluntarily giving the river a break to continue to heal after last years incident at the Dam. We’ve had many calls wondering how the river is doing. And as of right now it’s the same Madison we’ve loved forever. Flows are looking good. 920 cfs at Hebgen, 1000 cfs at Kirby, and 1060 cfs at Cameron.

The actual fishing itself has been good to excellent for those who have made the choice to get out there. Nymphing has been good to excellent. Midge Pupae, Smaller Mayfly Nymphs, Serendipities, and Heavy Stonefly Nymphs have been getting the job done. February is typically the month where we really see the midge dry fly activity really kick into gear up in the Upper Wade Stretch around $3 Bridge and Raynold’s Pass. This year looks to be no different as we’ve even had some great midge days up there in the latter half of January with quite a few nicer blue bird days in the past couple weeks. Look for those days in the upper thirties and low forties with calmer winds and the dry fly fishing up there can be some of the best you’ll have throughout the year. Dead Drifting a Streamer has also been very effective at times. Anglers who have checked in with us at the shop are coming in with good to great reports which is so nice to hear after the events of late last year.

We at Beartooth thank all of you as always for all your support and kindness. As Spring begins to approach get those vices heated up and fill those boxes for another exciting Flyfishing Season in SW Montana in 2022. Our fly inventory right now is great. As always, we have all the bugs you could possibly need for a early outing to the Upper Madison. Be safe out there and Tight Lines!

Dries: Griffith’s Gnat #18-#22. Adams Midge Cluster #18-#20. Brook’s Midge Sprout Black #20. CDC Midge #20. Zelon Midge #20-#22. Parachute Adams #20-#22. Carlson’s Purple Craze #18-#20.

Nymphs: Delektable Mega Prince Std. and Flashback #8-#10. Delektable Guide Stone Black, Black/Brown #8-#10. Pat’s Rubberlegs Black, Brown, Black/Brown #8-#12. Delektable Twinkle Black, Red, Rootbeer, Olive #18-#20. Zebra Midge Black, Red #18-#20. $3 Dips Brown, Red, Olive #16-#20. Jig Hook Napoleon Light Olive #16-#18. Delektable Lil’ Spanker Silver, Gold, Red, Pheasant Tail, Blue #16-#20. Delektable Tungsten Jig Spanker Silver, Red, Gold, Holo Olive, Holo Black, Pheasant Tail #18. Delektable Big Spanker Warrior #18.

Emergers: RS2 Gray, Black, Olive #18-#22.

Streamers: Delektable Screamer Single or Double Olive, Black, White, Black/Olive. Delektable SS Jointed Screamer Black, Black/Olive, Olive, White. Sculpzilla Olive, Natural #4-#8. Zonkers Natural, Copper, Olive #6-#8. Bow River Bugger Olive, White, Black/Olive #6-#8.

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December 2nd | Madison River Flow Update

In the early morning hours on Tuesday November 30th, 2021 a malfunction occurred with the headgate at Hebgen Dam on the Upper Madison River. The malfunction caused flows below the dam to decrease from 650 cfs down to 150 cfs. The severe and sudden decrease in flows resulted in numerous side channels in the section of river between Hebgen and Quake Lakes to be emptied. The receding water left many Adult Trout, Whitefish, Juvenile Trout, and Sculpin to be stranded and in some cases unfortunately lost forever, and Spawning Redds were exposed. Most of the river below Quake did see a large reduction in flows but the impact was not as severe. The most impacted area below Quake were the side channels around the West Fork and Eagles Nest.

As the day went on FWP and Northwestern Energy began doing what they could. An emergency fishing closure was put in place on the entire Upper Madison from Hebgen Dam down to Ennis Lake and remains in place at the time of this writing. People on scene began rescuing as many Trout, Whitefish, and Sculpin in all age classes as possible. Fisherman, Flyshop Employees, and other local volunteers were also on the scene quickly to begin helping with the rescue. In the early part of the emergency it was hard to know what to do. Help began, but then due to fear of trampling exposed Spawning Redds and the possible danger to folks if the gate was repaired with sudden increased flows that could impact people in the River, a call to stand down was made. By the end of the day though it was clear that more help was definitely needed, rescues should occur, and the gate was still not repaired as parts were needed to be brought in and installed.

Calls for help went out through Social Media, Email, and Phone Calls. And… boy did the Cavalry show up on Wednesday morning the 1st of December. Hundreds of volunteers came from near and far including: Guides; Flyshop Employees; Fisherman; Montana FWP; and Northwestern Energy Personnel. Volunteers included people from all walks of life and from communities near and far. Groups split up in all areas of the River walking the banks and carefully looking for fish still stranded in the small pools and pot holes left by the reduction in flows. Luckily nighttime temperatures had been mild and the crews throughout the valley were able to rescue many many more fish, and return them to the main channel.

Yesterday evening close to midnight and into today and the early morning hours of December 2nd Northwestern Energy crews were able to get the broken part installed on the headgate and return flows on the Upper Madison below the dam back to 650 cfs. This should bring welcome relief to the exposed Redds. Time will tell what the long term impacts will be on the River going forward.

We were able to send Ryan Ongley our Shop Manager up to help in the rescue effort. During this time of year there are only a few of us here at the shop. Ryan reported back as to the very large army that showed up to help. The Flyfishing Community is a special one. It’s almost like a family. It truly was amazing to see just how many people took time out of their busy lives to come do their part to help this special resource. Thank you one and all for helping the Fish and the River!

At this time we have no word on how long the Emergency Fishing Closure will remain in place. But it’s best to leave the River at Peace for now and give Mother Nature some time to do some healing and let the trout fatten up more for the coming Winter.

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October 25th – November 24th | Madison River

As our season seems to be winding down and less busy with the Holiday Season upon us, we’d like to of course give thanks to all of our loyal customers and their support throughout 2021. It was a year that saw early high temps, and the first Hoot Owl closure on the Upper Madison ever. We all persevered though and enjoyed a great summer fishing on the river we all hold so Dear.

The last few weeks have seen unseasonably warm fall days, some cooler days, and the wind has been blowing many days. Welcome to Montana Right!?! Fishing has been solid to excellent many days. Flows remain low throughout the Upper and water temps are in the low to mid 40’s most days currently. The Trout are still hungry and attempting to fatten up for the long Winter ahead. Brown’s are spawning so keep an eye out for those Redds as your out wading the river. And of course let them do their thing in Peace.

For the Dry Fly enthusiast out there we have now transitioned into Midge time. If you can pick the right day with calm to no wind there are a surprising amount of heads up in the soft pockets along the banks, and behind the rocks in the Upper Wade Section.

Nymphing remains the most consistent method of catching and landing right now. Smaller Stonefly Nymphs, Midge Pupae, Worm and Imitations, and Small Attractor style Nymphs with a bit of flash are doing the job. And of course some of the year round producers like Pheasant Tails, Delektable Lil’ Spankers, Shop Vac’s, and $3 Dips.

Streamer action remains solid. Everything from Buggers to the Big Articulated Nasties are on the menu depending on the day. Just have a good rotation of patterns and colors available and you should have some hookups and the possibility of that Two Footer we always hope for.

Swinging the shallow riffles and softer water with a Soft Hackle is also producing well. Don’t be afraid to swing a larger brighter pattern this time of year. A size #10-#14 pattern with some color and flash can bring some amazing fish in this time of year. And those big bruisers sometimes are hiding in those little riffles. Keep in mind we are not necessarily matching the hatch right now. We are targeting those larger migratory fish. So whether you do this with a Single Hand Rod or are a newly converted disciple of the Trout Spey game there is just something about that grab on a Softie.

Dries: Parachute Adams #18-#22, Carlson’s Purple Craze #18-#20. Griffith’s Gnat #18-#20. Brook’s Sprout Midge Olive #20.

Nymphs: Delektable Mega Prince Standard and Flashback #8-#10. Delektable Lil’ Spanker Pheasant Tail, Silver, Red, Blue #16-#20. Delektable Tungsten Bead Head Big Spanker Warrior #18. Rainbow Warrior #18-#20. Zebra Midge Black, Red, Olive #12-#20. Formerly Known as Prince #16-#18. Pat’s Rubberlegs Black #10-#12. Worm Imitations #4-#12.

Streamers: Delektable Single and Double Screamers Black, Olive, White, Black/Olive, Brown/Yellow, Badger.
Galloup’s Dungeons Standard and Mini Black, Olive, Cream, Olive/Black Barred. Zonkers. Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow. JR’s Conehead Olive.

Soft Hackles: Full Dressed Red, Partridge and Olive, Partridge and Orange, Partridge and Purple. Hare’s Ear Soft Hackle, Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle. #10-#16.

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Steelhead Rehab Oct. 23rd – Nov.11th | Rogue River, Southern Oregon

My first destination trip in over two years, to rehab the body, mind, and soul. 15 days of Flyfishing the Rogue River in Southern Oregon . Staying with one of my best friends Jeff Wilson. We caught Steelhead everyday except one. While also catching Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout on Dry Dropper combos.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You to all of our friends. Jeff and Jules. Jack and Angie at The Fishing Hole. Dave, Andy, Steve, Kam, Heather, Jed, and Clay.

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