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  • Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    South Fork Serenade

    Pure Delight, No Glory
    that's o.k. with us
    South Fork Madison River
    .. We fish the South Fork of the Madison River more than we mention. It's full of fish.
    .. It has untrammeled stretches. It's full of willow thickets. It has cute little meadow sections. It roars in places, (softly of course.)
    .. This little river is not the closest, nor most easily accessed river from our front door. It's not the best fishing in the area. It's not famous for anything. It is, however, the least visited and provides the most solitary fishing experience that is close to home.
    .. The spawning run from Hebgen Lake is late in the season and frequently requires a snowmachine for access.
    .. During that run there is the possibility of fish larger than 7 pounds, (the way the worm folks measure.) Normally the fish are around 10" to 12" with a giant in the 14" range possible. There are many 7" & 8" fish that provide nearly constant action if you find them.
    .. The river provides all the hatches of it's more famous siblings in the neighborhood. Right now the caddis are swarming and the hoppers are hopping. There seems to be more beetles here than elsewhere. Probably this is because there are only a few dirt tracks separating the forest from the water. Both spruce moths and white miller caddis are working as you read this.
    .. Surprisingly deep holes dot the willow runs and it's possible to kick the trophy fish out of them before you know it.
    .. If you wade the river a short rod is mandatory. If you don't wade, a very long rod is better. A strange beast is the 10½ foot four weight stick. We use one with a level 5-weight line. Works great for precision casting the short line over the willows. Bringing the fish to hand is facilitated by strong short leaders, (five to six feet long and usually 3x or 4x. The fish don't appear to be leader-shy most of the time.
    .. This is a nymph fisher's paradise. The upper reaches hold stoneflies and the lower reaches have weeds for the mayflies and caddis flies. We went up, (be sure that your vehicle has adequate clearance,) to the free stone section last weekend. There were little yellow stone flies on the grass and in the air.
    .. We fished the nymphs and did fine - even though there were fish on the surface. We dapped the flies next to the sparse willows and slightly undercut banks: took a couple of monster 10" fish. Fat little creatures they were. All of them had earned their wings and went airborne several times. Panic and pain is most probably a highly motivating factor for these seldom visited fish.
    .. We must note that there is an insidious notion that is fostered by the hatch charts of the experts. Most of the feather merchants have a hatch chart for your perusal. The charts let us know when bugs appear at the peak of their emergence cycle. We are led to believe that this is the only time the bug is around and we must buy the right fly at the right time to be a successful catcher of fish. Well so be it.
    .. The little yellow stone flies were happy to be alive and cavorting on the South Fork at least a month later than the experts would have you believe. Or, maybe they are extraterrestrials. After all there is a distinct resemblance between the two.
    South Fork Solitude