The Madison River
most of this section, the Madison River flows in Wyoming through Yellowstone
National Park. One would think that's the rivers origin in the high plateau
region of Yellowstone Park, which is notoriously cold, would keep the
river cold. However, as the Madison River runs right through the most
thermally active region in the United States, the water temperature on
section of the river is unusually warm for a high mountain river, frequently
exceeding seventy degrees in the summer. Consequently, despite lying
in a high, mountain environment, which frequently leads to low nutrient
content, the Madison has an exceptionally high nutrient level in places,
creating great fishing for those willing to take the time and effort
to access the river.
Fishing on this stretch is generally seasonal in nature. The best fishing
will be found in the spring and again in the fall. During the summer,
due to the thermal springs, the river temperature often gets to warm
to spur trout feeding activity.
Yellowstone National Park opens for fishing in late May. The best early
fishing on the river tends to occur, depending on water levels, in mid-June
with the arrival of excellent caddis hatches and Salmon Fly hatches.
the caddis hatches occur in June, they usually occur all along this stretch
of river. Imitations such as the Elk Hair Caddis and Hemingway Caddis,
in sizes 14-16, are popular and effective imitations.
The middle of June also sees the Salmon Fly hatch, which can bring hordes
of anglers to the park. Generally, the Salmon Fly hatch is found in the
upper stretches of this section, although it can extend further downstream.
If an angler is looking for solitude, fishing the this hatch is not a
time to find it. To avoid the crowds, an angler should walk up or downstream
at least a mile from the popular access points. The forested and sometimes
swampy nature along the river tends to discourage most river walkers,
allowing an angler to reach waters with substantially less fishing pressure.
When fishing during the Salmon Fly hatch, use large nymphs, sized 2-6,
bouncing them along the banks right on the bottom of the river. Popular
imitations used during this hatch include the Kaufmann Stone, the Golden
Stone and Bitch Creek Nymph.
As June draws to a close, the waters begin to warm substantially, slowing
fishing down dramatically. For the rest of the summer, hatches will occur,
allowing for some sporadic fishing using standard dry flies like the
Parachute Adams and the Elk Hair Caddis. However, fishing the Madison
River on this stretch during July and August can be a hit or miss proposition,
although significant numbers of whitefish can be caught.
the fall, this stretch of the Madison River comes alive again, this time
with large brown trout that migrate up from Hebgen Lake in Montana. One
popular method for catching these large brown trout is to use large streamers,
sizes 2-6, working them in the deeper water. A second method involves
using wet flies, floating them just below the surface. Popular flies
include the Hare's Ear Nymph and the Pheasant Tail Nymph in smaller sizes.
Top water fishing can also be effective using imitations such as the
Parachute Adams, although the larger fish will generally be caught sub-surface.
Fishing pressure on this section of the river varies from light to heavy,
depending on the season. Expect to share the river with numerous other
anglers during the June hatches and again during the fall migration.
For anglers seeking solitude along the Madison River on this stretch,
late summer provides the best opportunities for anglers to have the river
to themselves - although the traffic on the nearby road can be intense.
It should be noted that most of the Madison River in Yellowstone National
Park flows through a heavily burned area. The fires of 1988 rippped through
this section of the park, destroying most of the canopy (much of which
was dead or dying anyway due to beetle infestations). As a result, don't
expect to find the pristine scenery that is located elsewhere in Yellowstone
Unlike many of the areas of Yellowstone Park, the Madison River is a
quick and easy hop to reach from the town of West
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