The Madison River is legendary to most anglers. It’s known for it’s fast productive waters, breathtaking scenery, and hungry sizable trout. The river flows for more than 140 scenic miles before reaching the Missouri River. After this weekend, I can officially check this one off my bucket list. This New England gal ventured to the Wild Wild West eager to see what The Madison was all about.
While on this adventure, I had the pleasure of hosting a group of 6 ladies at The Madison River Lodge located in remote Cameron, MT. The lodge was picturesque sitting right along the famous Upper Madison “50 mile riffle.” The group of women were diversified in experience levels and age with one thing in common. We were there to experience the wonders of The Madison River, make new connections, and land a few fish. The majority of these women were beginners and in the sweet spot of their journey as anglers. They quickly rose to the cream of the crop by heading out to fly fish the renowned Madison.
The adventure began Thursday evening when we arrived at the lodge in inclement and dicey weather. One of the ladies in the group experienced hail, snow, rain, thunder and lightening, and sunshine all in the same road trip from Bozeman. We were in for an experience…
Fly fishing The Madison mid May has it’s pros and cons.
The Cons: There’s no guarantee when it comes to the weather this early in the season. The week before we arrived it was sunny, 70s, and even some opportunity for wet wading. Our weekend forecast showed possible snow, rain, and periods of hopeful sunshine. I kept reminding myself and the ladies that while we can’t control the weather, we can control our attitudes. Friday morning we geared up head to toe, ready to battle the weather and hungry trout.
The Pros: The first day on the water was extremely prolific for all of the women. Because of the time of year, these trout have experienced little fishing pressure and are hungry with the cooler temps. While the temperatures didn’t reach above the low 50s and we experienced off and on rain all day, the fishing was fire. Funny how when the fishing is good, the fact that you can’t feel your fingers doesn’t seem to matter. The takes were significant and plentiful which as a beginning angler is extremely important for moments of success. Each of the ladies had plenty of opportunity to set the hook, learn how to fight the fish, have the fish break off, and do it all over again. We fished subsurface nymphs the majority of our time. As a saltwater angler at heart, I managed to work in a few unsuccessful streamer opportunities where the fish were abundant and playful.
Day 2 on The Madison was another incredible day. The ladies started the morning with a better understanding of roll casts, proper drifts, and quick hook sets. They were in the zone Saturday morning and ready for another epic day. While I didn’t get the opportunity to fish with each of the ladies, we all shared our fishing tales over dinner each night. I heard tales of 20 inch browns, spills in the river, and moose crossings. One of the things I love about fly fishing so much is the ability to connect people at all stages of life. My fishing partner for both days happen to be twice my age. Her up for anything personality and positive nature was such a wonderful addition to the group (not to mention she slayed the big browns).
The trip was a major success and extremely memorable. I managed to squeeze some fly fishing in myself using the Wade 5wt Dragon Glass rod. This was the perfect nymphing rod with its buttery tip flex allowing for easy mends and full long runs. I highly recommend trying out this Wade 5wt for ease of presentation and quick action (style points for the fiberglass). The Madison is everything it’s cracked up to be. Until next time…