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Showing posts with the label Madison River

Bear Trap

It was warm.  Heat radiated off of the canyon walls.  The temperature on my car gauge stretched into the low 80's.
Geez, what's this?
Sweat.
I've avoided Bear Trap Canyon, outside of winter, for decades.  It can be hot.  Dry. Theres snakes.  The last summer hike that I took, I saw seven rattlers, on the trail.   That's plenty for one day, don't you think?
Then there's ticks, poison ivy too.
It's really not that bad.  One does need to watch where one places important appendages though.



Ah, poison ivy.  It's incorrectly been called poison oak.  What we have here is western poison ivy.  It  grows as an upright vine and can be found along the banks of the Madison.  While fishing, I've also seen it along the Missouri and Clark Fork Rivers in Montana, the Selway, Lochsa and Clearwater in Idaho, and the Grande Ronde in Washington.  I still have flashbacks to childhood summers spent broken out and itchy from rashes.  The rash on unmentionable body parts i…

About Time....

It took forty years, and then some.  I'd read about it.  Thought about it.  Driven by it.  Shot elk in the nearby mountains.  Regarded the flotillas of angler laden drift boats.  But fished it? 
Nope.
Until today.
I planned to hike up Beartrap Canyon on the lower Madison, but didn't stop. I kept on driving, all the way to Three Dollar Bridge. 
The upper Madison is, as they say, one big riffle.
And it contains fish. 
After all of the years, they missed me.
Thank you.

Madison Brown

Here is a bank sipper from a recent foray to the Madison.  A few caddis were drifting on the surface when I arrived in mid-afternoon.  Not a huge hatch, but enough to get my attention, and that of some fish too.  This fish showed itself.  I missed it, put it down, rested it for a while.  When I returned, it was back, rising, picking off the occasional caddis.  A few drifts later it exploded on my fly.  I might not get a better one this year, at least not on a dry.    
So, what was the fly du jour?  Lately I've taken to tying a variety of parachute type caddis. Anything that might be more visible is just fine for my aging eyes.  They are ties of Mike Lawson's EZ Caddis. You can see him tie the fly here. I've tied pink posted ones, some with white posts, some with a combo of pink and fluorescent yellow, black too.   A tan hackled, orange posted one got this brown.  














And, since a brown trout from the Madison River was the star of this post, I thought it appropriate to includ…

Madison Caddis

The caddis made their inaugural appearance of the season this week.   Normally, I find no need to hurry out to the river.  You can if you like.  Arrive too early, and its too bright, and surprisingly, a bit warm already.  The last hour or two is the best time of the day.  Once the wind settles, clouds of caddis fly en masse.  It's an incredible sight.  I think that you'll agree.
This week, I went twice.  When I arrived at the river, a few tree swallows busily flew over the water.  They're a good indicator of the presence of winged insects.  In this case caddis!
Once fishing, I stuck with adult caddis patterns.  Basically an elk hair type.  I also use deer, caribou and antelope for the wings.  They all work.  The antelope and caribou hair is more brittle though.
On the first night I had a devil of a time trying to spot my imposter on the surface of the water. So, after I got home,  I tied a few with a fluorescent post.  That helped a little.




Interestingly, the real bugs, b…

Cold Feet and the Blanket Beaver

January has slipped away, rather quickly.  There were no major cold snaps, but it has been tough trying to fish around the wind.  There were a few excursions over the hill to the spring creek, but I didn't want to write about the same old thing. And, not wanting to stare at an indicator, I really wanted to hold out and cast to rising fish.  Too much to ask?  Well no, not really.  It never hurts to ask.  What were the odds?  Pretty good supposedly, except on the days that I went out.

Friday looked to be reasonably calm and comfy with forty degree temperatures forecast.  So I drove out to the Madison and took a walk up into Beartrap Canyon to look for heads.  A few adult midges buzzed lazily in areas where the warmth of the sun radiated from the canyon walls.  The shaded areas never gave up the frost.  No midges there.





There were lots of folks out walking.  Quite a few fishing too.  I stopped by some soft water.  It was shaded.  I was hopeful, but not too optimistic. It was notably…

Been A While......

It's been a while since I've written. I apologize.  I've shirked my duties as a blogger.  
It's been a while too since we've had occasion to use a hopper.  This one, patterned after Mike Lawson's Henry's Fork hopper, was tied with the intention of floating it in the Blackfoot.  Why the Blackfoot?  Beats me.   I just thought it was a good idea. 
Well, years passed.  The hoppers never saw the Blackfoot.  One day, this past summer, I found the forlorn hoppers in a fly box next to my tying bench. Their time had come.  I packed them off to the Madison. 
I've always liked the look of elk hair hoppers.  This pattern looks good on the water.  It floats like the cliched cork.  And, it's not too tough to tie.  
And, pray tell, how did they work that day on the Madison?  Well, pretty darned good.  There were no sippers that day.  The takes were pretty explosive. 
To quote Dan Holland from the Fly Fisherman's Bible:
A trout feels about a grasshopper the wa…

The First Fifteen

I know that I'm not the only one that feels the seasonal sense of urgency.  All of us who live in northerly climes know it.  The clock is running.  The big W is around the corner.  We can't keep it at bay, but we can sure make the most of the remaining days.  
September?  Glorious.  There's just not enough of it.  Bob Garnier recently posted about it on his great little blog, Trout on Dries.  But then, as an Albertan, he knows about urgency and winter. As a Montanan, I appreciate Alberta.  Heck, they send us weather.
No matter.  Back to September.  It's an embarrassment of riches.  Back when I bowhunted avidly, I'd spend weeks wearing out boot soles by chasing elk in the high country.  Now, other vices have supplanted the pursuit of elk.  
There's birds and dogs to chase, high and low.  Trout to catch that now revel in the cooling water.  Just pick a river to fish.  And, heaven forbid, steelhead, if.....
So far we've spent a day in the high county where th…

Progression

At last we've entered the days of seasonal tease.  Spring, with all it's daily vagaries.  One day stunningly beautiful, sixty degrees, warm to the face.  The next elicits a response of…"Are you kidding?"  Snow, blow, temperatures plummeting into the teens.  Yes, spring in Montana.  Wonderful.


The last stretch off from work was fruitful from the standpoint of getting out and poking around.  I went five for seven as regards days fished to days off.  Not a bad average for someone swinging a bat or wielding a fly rod. 
The pontoon emerged from it's bag in the garage and made it's maiden voyage of the year.  I was relieved to find that it still held air and had not acquired any new leaks.  An overcast day, punctuated with the occasional squall, made for pleasant floating conditions.  Midges? Yes!  Gobs.  Clusters. Truly something to behold.  Trout enthusiastically sipped the floating masses of bugs.  A short cast to a recent rise with a midge pupa was often rewar…

A Good Day

"I wondered for quite a while about the fascination of fly fishing.  Why is it that I can wade into a stream at 10 in the morning, look at my watch in a "couple"of hours, and find out that it's late in the afternoon"........by Gene Hill from A Listening Walk and other stories.
Today was such a day, albeit I started a little earlier and ended earlier in order to escape the heat.  It was one of those days when I couldn't quite decide what to do.  Inertia is unacceptable, so I started loading gear into the car.  I figured that four fly rods should do nicely. I could have taken more, but every man has his limits.

I ended up on the Madison.  My intent was to stop briefly, do a quick recon of a fishing access site, and continue on to the upper part of the river.  I never left.

I started fiddling with my camera and took a few photos of flies.  Satisfied, I pulled on waders and selected an old fiberglass fly rod that I built some 35 years ago.  To it I attached a…