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  • Tuesday, September 02, 2008


    REACHES 3,400 cfs

    Check You Local Fly Shop
    .. The malfunction of two hydraulic gates at Hebgen Dam caused a bit of surprise and curtailed fishing on the Madison River Monday. The waters of Hebgen Reservoir rushed through the gates and scoured the channel between Quake Lake and Hebgen Reservoir.
    .. The rupture has been partially blocked by some temporary plugs and a bit of local ingenuity. A steel bulkhead is already fabricated and is being installed, (Tuesday morning - probably as you read this.)
    .. The fishing "Between the Lakes," has been closed and conditions are certainly different downstream. Check with local fly shops in West Yellowstone, Ennis, and Bozeman for conditions and fishing opportunities. Check these news stories for a bit more information: MONTANA'S NEWS STATION.com and KPVI.com.
    be sure to check with your local fly shops before you plan anything in the next few days.
    .. The fishing on the Madison River has been exceptional this year and, despite a few recent snow flakes in West Yellowstone, the cooler temperatures had suggested that fishing would continue to be very good for the Autumn.
    .. Certainly things will be a bit different from this last long weekend when perfection was the name of the river.
    .. It has been quite some time since we fished on the Madison River in a drift boat. It's a pleasure generally reserved for hunters of large fish, visitors with a bit of extra cash, neighbors with boats, and guides on their day off.
    .. However, this past weekend, one of our neighbors, who is a guide, took a day off, and gifted us with a driftsman's holiday.
    .. The day was surprisingly perfect. The winds were well below gale force. The sun was occasionally obscured by a wayward cloud. The hoppers were on the water. The fish were on the bite. The traffic was amazingly light for a busy weekend. And; the company was exceptional.
    .. The Madison River offers fisher folks an opportunity to catch fish in a delightfully pastoral setting. The valley is picturesque and the access is excellent. The experience from a boat is interrupted by fishing and catching - only if you want it to be. A gentle float down the river without any fish would be just fine.
    .. Autumn was only a hint in the air. Crisp zephyrs came to us and wafted downstream, (perfect for casting.) Berries had some color and the gloss has gone from the leaves on the stream-side vegetation.
    .. There are places to park and enjoy the river and it's inhabitants. Half a sandwich serves for a late morning snack and watching a few other boats drifting along aids digestion.
    .. There were fish aplenty and the water was as clear as it gets. The increased flow from the problems at Hebgen Dam will carry some additional silt and sand. However, as far as fishing is concerned, Quake Lake should ameliorate most of the impact, and the increased flow is short term at worst - (or so we've been told.)
    .. Try a BIG HOPPER with a little hopper dropper for a chance at some of the bigger fish in the river. We were treated to some splashy aerial acrobatics, quite a few dinks, some decent fish and, of course the big ones that got away.
    .. One thing that should be apparent to fishers of the drifting sort: "Never hire a guide with skinny arms."
    .. With some good luck and a bit of planning you can get one with a few thousand days on the river.
    .. If you get a true master your flies will be rigged, and you will not need to cast too often. The guide will maintain your drift and even place your fly over fish without you having to do anything but catch it when it rises.
    .. If you're even a bit more fortunate, your neighbors will take you fishing and do all the work while you have all the fun. We're fortunate that way.