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  • Monday, September 07, 2009

    Part Park - Part Not

    Carry Two Tickets
    catch big fish
    (Click on image for full size detail.)
    .. The serpentine loops of the Madison River carve a sinuous path across the boundary between Yellowstone National Park and the Gallatin National Forest .
    .. This is prime water for the Fall Fishing Frenzy in the neighborhood. The neighbors all have a Yellowstone National Park Fishing Permit and a Montana Fishing License.
    .. If you're headed this way for the runner rampage be sure to have both tickets in your possession.
    .. You must apply for and receive a Park Permit in person. You can get a Montana License online. The local feather merchants can provide you with both, (see sidebar.)
    .. The boundary is clearly marked in most places with a post that is abundantly visible. This boundary is an arbitrary and surveyed boundary, (unlike the one on the Gallatin River which includes the whole of the river and most of the flood plain.)
    .. The legalities of the fishing are delicate. Where are you standing? What water is being cast into? Lures and Worms are allowed in the National Forest. Worms and Lures are not allowed on the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. You can use a float tube in the forest, not in the park. Grouchy fisher folk complain to the NPS about tubers that invade the small sections of park water. The NPS responds with high dollar personnel diverted from other duties.
    .. Lesson: there is very little little park water in this stretch of river - whine if you must. If you make a big enough scene maybe they will put the cable back across the river.
    .. When the fish weir is in operation, (THIS YEAR AGAIN,) there is a buffer zone where no fishing is permitted. This temporary closure is well signed. The Montana FWP Press Release is HERE.
    .. Right now catching is good to spectacular along the Madison River from the Barns Holes to the Highway 191 bridge, (and even to Hebgen Lake.) Fish can be taken all day with a double nymph rig: size 10 Prince followed by a size 14 Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear.
    .. Sporadic mayfly hatches in the morning can occur anywhere and, a generalized dry fly of size 16 or 18 will usually work well. The caddis during this time of year are small and seem to hatch all day long. They are not too populous but will catch fish that are looking up: size 16 or even smaller if you dare.
    .. The resident fish in this lazy stretch of water exhibit two distinct behavior patterns. Residents up to about 12" are typical run and riffle trout, and are found in the usual places. Residents over 12" tend to be cruisers, similar to trout in lakes, and can be found in surprising places including the shallow sand bars and the gentle gravel beds at river's edge.

    (If you have a large monitor click on image for nearly life-size rendition.)
    .. These fish, (to 20" and more,) are seldom caught because fishers splash into the water and start wading immediately when they arrive at the stream bank. Many of the fish are sent to parts-unknown by the rapid approach of eager fishers.
    .. We watched the same fish, (shown above with fin wake,) lazily cruising in less than 6" of water and closer than two feet from our observation dock. This fish spent over an hour nibbling on bits of flotsam and, (we assume,) nymphs. This cruiser and many others we've observed through the years have distinct territories and cruising patterns.
    .. It's not exactly clockwork, but by being patient and waiting for the fish a single cast is all that's necessary to hook these submarines. If you're serious about patterns a quick dip with the net-seine will give you an indication of fodder for presentation.
    .. The big bend pools are not the only place to find the runners from Hebgen Lake. The deep holes in the long runs will hold these fish as well. Immediately downstream from Baker's Hole is Baker's Run. The river here is very broad and shallow - except for the main channel. The main channel has some spots that will fill your waders if you're not careful. This run transects the park line and is the location of the old cable across the Madison River.

    .. Success in this section of river depends on familiarity with the main channel and the approaches to it. It is essentially a long narrow pool. It behaves like a pool in high water years like this year. It holds very few fish of size in low water years and is just a deep riffle.
    .. This year it will be possible to approach the forest section from mid-river on the shallow bar. The park section of the pool can best be fished from either the island in the river or at it's tail from the southeast bank. Approach gently and fish your way in. Some of the biggest cruisers in the area use the broad gentle bar as feeding grounds. Some are bigger than the fish that run up from Hebgen Lake.