Runoff Fishing - Dirty Water Blues – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Runoff Fishing - Dirty Water Blues

The million dollar question of the day is…”Where’s the clean water at?”

The warm temps have most of the rivers swelling and gaining more color every day. Looking ahead there isn’t much relief in sight. Mid-week there are some cooler temps, but for the most part the extended forecast is calling for nighttime lows in the mid-high 40’s. That won’t do much to slow the snowmelt. Looks like this is it, runoff is here to stay.

So, runoff great. It purges the river of debris build up and spreads nutrients throughout the river. That’s good right…? ”But I still want to catch fish.” The good news is runoff doesn’t mean you have to quit chasing trout. A little out of the box thinking goes a long way. Many small streams flowing out of low lying hills will clean up before the big rivers, and now that the general season is year round these small streams will be a new runoff fishing option this year. Many lakes are completely thawed, and with a little hiking you might find some awesome ice-off lake fishing. And of course, the bigger valley lakes are all iced off and starting to see good chironomid fishing and Callibaetis should be just around the corner.

Even the big rivers can fish well during runoff. Any clean water coming in from spring creeks or other creeks will form a clean seam that should be stacked with fish. Also the main river can fish well. Just think like a fish. Where would you find shelter from the fast flows? Any slack water or eddy near the bank will hold lots of fish. The only snag (no pun intended) of course is the visibility. However, if the fish do see your fly they will most likely eat. So, soaking nymph rigs or slow streamers through those spots can actually produce good numbers even when there’s only 6 inches of visibility.

The Madison, both upper and lower, is still hanging in there and has great visibility in a lot of areas. Fishing this river has been an excellent option for many anglers. Good dry fly fishing can be found in the afternoons and fish have been caught throughout the day on both streamers and nymphs. If you are looking to get out for the day the Upper or Lower Madison looks like it will continue to be a great option!

Again, the best method to runoff fishing is “think out of the box” and stay adaptable. Stop by our Bozeman fly shop or check our latest fishing reports as conditions change rapidly this time of year.