Madison River Fishing Report for 03/24/2020

by Jake Schilling March 25, 2020 2 Comments

By Jake Schilling - March 24, 2020

Madison River Fishing Report

Madison River Fishing Report

In the midst of self-quarantine, it is important to get a little fresh air.  We got some floating in last week under unusually warm March temps.  As I write this it's 25 degrees and snowing out, what a nice change 55 degrees and sunshine were for a few days last week.  There were a few more boats on Saturday than any other day last week, but that's normal plus considering most folks had been locked up inside all week.  Depending on how the next 2 weeks warm-up, we could be seeing some good hatches down by Ennis, a little variety besides midges will really get our spring season going.  This report is more focused on the Varney-Ennis end of the river, but can still apply this report to the Upper section if you keep in mind the water is a few degrees colder up high.


All of the Upper Madison's ramps are clear except Raynolds, Pine Butte, and sometimes Pal depending on the snowdrifts that day.  At Lyons Bridge, you still have to do some boat sliding over the snowbank, so putting in is ok, I may hold off on taking out there which is fine as the two ramps above are pretty rough still.  That being said, in my opinion, the best fishing right now is between Varney and Valley Garden.  


Plenty of midges hatching, keep your eyes open along the soft buckets and slicks on the bank, there will be rising fish in the early-to-mid afternoon.  Usually, you're not going to see pods of a dozen fish like you will in the Wade section, but once a few other mayfly species get to hatching we'll see more consistent groups of rising fish.  No Skwalas sighted by our groups, but it's worth trying a #14 Royal Chubby, there's a few fish looking for stoneflies.


Pretty consistent.  Didn't have banner days, certainly didn't get skunked either.  Soft insides and long tail-outs fished best, didn't find much in the deeper/heavier runs right out in the middle, which is normal for late March.  Fished a bunch of different patterns and *shocker* the best two patterns were Olive and Black Buggers with an orange Hot Bead.  Make sure to wait on the hang-down, most eats will come closer to the bank than the middle on a 'normal' run.  


The next 3 months are the best time of year to learn Euro/Czech nymphing on the Madison.  They're great techniques/disciplines that demand control and finesse, takes a little more skill than chuckin' bobbers and slammin' mends.  The water close to Ennis is awesome training water, plenty of deep island drops offs and the classic green buckets we all look for.  While rubber leg stones will get the job done, be creative and try something the fish aren't seeing 10,000 times over; #10 Golden Biot Czech Stone, #12-16 Czech Frenchie, #16-#18 Crystal Dip, #14 Purple Czech PT, #14-16 Rainbow Warrior, & #12 CDC Red Tag Jig to name a few.  


Professional Fly Fishing Guide Jake Schilling

About Jake Schilling - Professional Fly Fishing Guide - Madison River Outfitters

At age 21 Jake moved to West Yellowstone from Missoula in May 2012. That first summer he spent two months living in a tent, before moving into a 1971 Lark camper until October.  After three years of part-time guiding, Jake moved into a full-time guide job with MRO.  During the winter he spends his time spey casting, midge fishing, steelhead fishing, and cross-country skiing while off work. Jake’s laid-back attitude and patience are unmatched, he loves taking the day slow; walking the boat and always having one more fly to try before moving on.

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2 Responses

Jake Schilling
Jake Schilling

March 28, 2020

Thanks David. Well, without casting the rod, one recommendation would be trying a double-tapered fly line. These lines are a lot of fun on shorter rods and deliver delicate presentations for quiet waters like the South Fork.

David McGillis
David McGillis

March 28, 2020

I’ve been following your reports for a few months now and I’m enjoying the hell outta them. At 56 years old, I am still a rookie at casting a fly line, but have managed quite well. I started out five years ago when one of my instructors at K-State University (College classes at 51 is a whole other story) offered up one of his poles a few hours of lessons in the park.
A week after that I spent five days in Colorado and caught fish every day. I also came home with tennis elbow. Didn’t realize there were tendons involved that I had not used in a while. Anyway, three years ago a came across an “Executive Travel Pack” at a second hand store.
It looked more like a case for a long barreled hand gun, but when you open it up it has a fly reel, a spinning reel, small box for lures and a rod broken down into six sections. The base of the pole is flipped one way for use with the spinner and the opposite way for the fly reel. It had never been used and required line on both reels, but I had to have it… and bought two.
Finally onto my question, when the rod is fully assembled it is only about six feet long. Trying to cast with a six foot pole is much harder than a nine footer, especially with five or more feet of leader and tippet. I made it work in September of 2018, just south of W. Yellowstone on the S. Fork of the Maddison near the Railroad Summer Home area and caught a 10-inch Grayling… but it was only about 15-feet from me. Trying to cast out past 20-feet is a pain in the ass, so… do ya have any advice for an old rookie who wants to keep using his six-foot rod?

Sincerely & respectfully,

David A. McGillis
Manhattan, KS

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