Well, the fishing season is now upon us here in SW Montana, and so I figured it was time to post a report. I just finished the first week of my 2018 season, and due to high flows everywhere, we fished all over the place beginning with the Lower Madison River and ending with the Missouri River, not to mention a few random stops along the way. If you are unaware, Montana has received an unprecedented amount of snow this past winter, and now we are reaping the rewards with a lot of our rivers blown out (at best) or flooding (at worst). For the first time in 20 years, I witnessed the Missouri River completely dirty from snow melt.
LOWER MADISON RIVER 2770 CFS BELOW ENNIS DAM The Lower is fishable again for the moment due to cooler weather that has come into the area, but things are not perfect over there. Prolific hatches of baetis, March Browns, and caddis are all present, but the river is moving pretty quick. I have still had my best fishing with sculpins, but we had a great afternoon throwing caddis under cloudy skies as well. UPPER MADISON RIVER 2510 CFS AT CAMERON The Upper Madison is running high and a bit off color, with the fish holding tight to the banks. If you can keep the fly in zone, you will catch some fish up here right now, but it is not easy. Rubber Legs, streamers, and worms are all working quite well. MISSOURI RIVER 13600 CFS BELOW HOLTER DAM The Missouri River fished pretty well for us the three days we were up there, and for us it was all about the worm. Finding the appropriate leader length and weight combo took a little figuring, but once we had it, we had it. Even in the dirty water, the fish were eating. GALLATIN RIVER 2640 CFS AT GALLATIN GATEWAY The Gallatin River has dropped and cleared a bit with our cooler weather, but things are going to go back to runoff very quickly this week with more warm weather and rain in the forecast. If you hit the river before it comes back up, I suggest stonefly nymphs and SJ worms fished as tight to the bank as possible, or in the slower waters and back eddies. JEFFERSON RIVER 8870 CFS AT TWIN BRIDGES The Jefferson River is in full blown runoff right now, not much to report. I did try and fish it early this week, and we caught some, but it was pretty tough. YELLOWSTONE RIVER 11300 CFS AT CORWIN SPRINGS The Yellowstone River has dropped and cleared with the cooler weather, but still not really fishable. The river is coming back up this week, I am sure it will rise again with the weather coming this week. The Yellowstone is not a great option right now, and probably won't be for quite some time.
We did spend a day at Armstrong Spring Creek this week as well, and it was great to be back on the creek. There were caddis, March Browns, and some baetis around, and we had the whole place to ourselves. Fishing was quite good, nymphing with scuds and midge larva was definitely the most productive.