Although CFS has been dropping daily, the clarity on the Yellowstone has been rough, with only a few inches of visibility. At least for the next couple days the Madison, Missouri, and the Bighorn have been better options, as well the the Spring Creeks, smaller streams, and private lakes. If you don’t mind pounding the banks there is still a chance on the Stone, but even expert oarsman and anglers gave gotten the goose egg. Be sure you have a confident rower as people have had accidents out here in flows above 10,000 CFS and nothing would be worse than to kick off your season with a sunken drift boat.
The salmonflies have been thick on the upper Madison, but so have the people. Increased fishing pressure makes this river difficult at times, but if you are willing to stick with it, this may be the best place in montana to catch a big brown on a dry fly. The fish are pretty spotty, which is to say you might hammer them for 100 yards and not get another strike for a mile. The trick is just to commit to the dry and be ready for action, no sleeping at the wheel. The other option is to fish nymphs in the middle of the river, which is also working pretty well.
There have good days and slow days on the upper Madison lately, all part of the equation when chasing the salmonfly hatch. While the end of the day score card might not reflect as many catches as one might hope, this is some of the most fun fishing you can have in Southwest Montana.
The Spring Creeks are another fantastic option right now while the Yellowstone is still dirty. The PMD’s have been coming off, starting around 10:00/11:00 and going until about 2:00 in the afternoon. Most of the duns coming off at Nelson’s today were about a size 18, although we took fish on smaller PMDs as well. Sparkle duns, Compara duns, and No Hackles were our best dry flies. A Polly Rosborough style PMD nymph was our best subsurface fly, followed by a crackback PMD nymph and the miracle nymph. 6 or 7X tippet was mandator – a 3 or 4 weight rod would help also – not only to protect your tippet, but also to get a slightly better drift.