Spring is slowly arriving to SW Montana, and the fishing has come around as well. Current conditions and flows as of today:
LOWER MADISON RIVER: 1250 CFS below Ennis Lake As of late, things have been a bit up and down on the Lower Madison River. Clarity has varied from crystal clear to green to dirty, and fishing has been pretty good through all the changes. The crayfish bite has been great, the sculpin bite the same, with midges and baetis hatching. On cloudy days, without gale force winds, the the dry fly fishing has been quite fun.
UPPER MADISON RIVER: 937 CFS at Cameron The Upper Madison River is fishing like it usually does this time of year, which is fantastic. It always nice to spend early spring days here, no crowds and good fishing. Worms, eggs, streamers, and stonefly nymphs are all getting fish. Remember the river is closed to fishing above MacAtee Bridge, and there are fish spawning throughout the river, so be careful while wading in the shallow water. MISSOURI RIVER: 4070 CFS below Holter Dam Fishing has been pretty good on the Missouri River, with the usual spring fare. Worms and small pink flies behind, under the indicator. The bites have been very light (cold water), and if you are not catching them, shorten up. Some dry fly fishing has been available as well, you just have to look in the right places. Midges in the afternoon, skwalas??
JEFFERSON RIVER: 1820 CFS at Twin Bridges The Jefferson is climbing fast right now, and is quite dirty. This area usually goes through some early dirty water at this time of the year, and I would suggest going elsewhere for the time being. It will come back before the "real" run off begins.
YELLOWSTONE RIVER: 2630 CFS at Corwin Springs The Yellowstone is climbing right now, however, the very top of the river is still fishable. A lot of the smaller, lower tributaries are dumping anything from green water to mud, not to mention the wind is pretty much trying to blow everything away over here. I would opt for another river for the time being. The Stone should come back around due to the cooling trend we are now experiencing, but it is truly day-to-day for now.
GALLATIN RIVER: 481 CFS at Gallatin Gateway There is a little bit of dirty water coming out of Taylor Fork here and there, but overall, the river is in great shape. Look for slower deeper water, fish small streamers or stonefly nymphs under an indicator, with a San Juan behind them. The fish are there, the water is cold, and the bite will be soft. Use some split shot, and shorten up the depth if you are not getting action.