Trip Report Alone in the Crowd

While the hoards complain about overcrowding on the Upper Madison River with visitors and locals alike lamenting poor fishing, I have a different take. Wednesday, a 4:30 am wakeup. I am at the parking area at 6:15. Its 15 minutes to the river. On the river, I am able to fish 1.4 miles of river completely alone, tackling the best (and not so best) lies with precision. Never saw another angler, boat or raft on the river all morning. Although completely surrounded by private land, staying below the high water mark kept me legal. A massive Trico hatch around 9am had me choking on bugs for an hour. It was a cool morning and sunny day but with some haze from regional fires. Streamers produced a few fish, but hoppers were the ticket, especially along the grassy, undercut banks. For some reason browns were few and far between. On the other hand, rainbows (Madison River steelies) were plentiful and robust giving great sport on the 4 weight.

No pictures of the river as to not give away the location, but there’s a pattern here that anyone can follow:
  1. Get on the river early before the sun rises. There’s at least an hour of pre-dawn light before the sun clears the Madison range.
  2. Find accessible sections well downstream from popular boat ramps.
  3. Take time to walk-in staying below high water mark.
  4. Get off the water and out of the way before the hoards show up.

The reward: Plenty of these beauties and contemplative angling.
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