Run-off is underway, Cabin Cr., Beaver Cr., and the West Fork of the Madison have been pumping mud after 3-4 days straight of 60 degree, sunny spring weather. Between the lakes has been 50/50, dirty on the road side, clean on the far bank. Flows out of Hebgen are still holding at 1,400cfs, but by the time you get to Kirby Ranch flows have jumped to 1,860 cfs. Guide trips out this week had good nymph fishing along the banks, better fishing later in the day as the sun warmed up. Even saw a few fishing rising in the muddy bankside slicks.
For nymphing, spend your time focused on the soft water and quality bankside pockets. Wade fishing tends to be more productive than float in these conditions, you are generally much better off fishing the banks on foot. All your typical Montana run-off flies apply, #6-10 Black Sili Leg Stone, #8-10 Biot Stone, #14-16 Caddis Pupa, #12-16 Olive Hare's Ear, and a few San Juans never hurt. It's also worth trying small leeches like a #8 Black Simi Seal under an indicator.
High water can also bring out some excellent streamer fishing to the Upper Madison. Floating long stretches and hitting the banks is a great way to spend a day around here. A few shop favorites are the #6 JJ's Sparkle Minnow, #2 Articulated Purple Sparkle Minnow, #2 Grey Sculpin Leech, and #4 Black Tungsten Bugger.
The dry-fly isn't totally dead, still worth keeping a few #16-18 D.O.A. Cripples, #18 Purple Parachutes, and #16-20 Sparkle Duns in your bag. They may not rise long, but in the right water you'll find heads in the afternoon.
On the right day you may find relatively clear water between the YNP boundary and Taylor Fork, but it's chocolate milk downstream of Taylor. See you in June.
Although the ice is mostly gone now, the "ice-off" fishing is still producing excellent spring Bows and Browns. Most anglers are on the North shore of Hebgen, stripping buggers and leeches. Our favorite pattern lately has been the #8 Black or Red Simi-Seal Leech. Chironomid fishing has started, good timing as access to the lake is pretty open. Every angler seems to have their own magic fly, we like the #14 Peacock.
Closed to fishing until 5/27
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A non-guide perspective on when to fish around West Yellowstone