Madison Salmonfly Watch and Clear Water – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Madison Salmonfly Watch and Clear Water

Salmon Fly

The rivers around Bozeman are finally decreasing their flows and clear water is rapidly becoming prevalent. With the Gallatin down to 2,600 CFS, Yellowstone to 15,000 CFS, East Gallatin to 220 CFS, and the Madison around 2,000 CFS water color has gone from brown to green and will soon be clear. Rapidly dropping flows have trout nice and hungry which has already led to some phenomenal fishing. Read our fishing reports for up to date techniques, flies, weather, and flows for your favorite Bozeman waters. The lower Madison in particular has been producing some awesome fish on streamers and nymphs, but with a few salmon fly sightings the dry fly action is ready to pick up. While the lower is not known for its salmon fly hatch the upper is renowned for trout massacring these giant stoneflies. A few sightings on the lower signifies that salmon flies on the upper Madison are ready to take off. Keep your eyes open for these small-bird sized aquatic insects. If you see one, it is worth tying on that size 4-6 orange foamy fly and slapping the banks.

The largest western genus in the stonefly family (plecoptera) is pteronarcys or the salmon fly. These 1.5 to 3-inch bugs make trout go crazy. This is like the 22oz. filet mignon in the trout world. When these flies are readily available, the fish will gorge themselves until they can’t possibly get another salmon fly down their gullet. In the first stages of this hatch the fishing is incredible but gets more difficult as the fish fill their stomachs. The hatch will start in the lower portions of the upper river and slowly work its way into the park. All of this madness starts very soon and lasts into August in the upper stretches of the river. For best success hit the first hatch and follow it up the river so you can fish at trout that have yet to exceed their pteronarcys limit.

Here are a few of our favorite patterns to fool trout that are seeking that big tasty meal.

Flutterbug Salmonfly Rogue StoneHenry's Fork Foam Stone