After experiencing relatively dry conditions in January and February, we have experienced widespread snowfall throughout the month of March. And while this has made fishing conditions unpredictable, the recent addition to the mountain snowpack bodes well for this upcoming season. The last reports I read for the Yellowstone region had snowpack levels hovering right around 100% and it appears as if the mountains surrounding the Madison, Gallatin and most of other major rivers are showing similar numbers.
Despite the snow, fishing conditions have been good lately and for those willing to brave a bit of wind and cool temperatures the results have been well worth it. Though we have experienced some action in the mornings, it seems the fish have been turning around noon when water temperatures begin to heat up and midges start to get active.
The Lower Madison has been excellent with best results coming on San Juan Worms, Shrimp Cocktails, Red Brassies, Egg Patterns and small Clouser Crayfish. On calm, overcast afternoons there has been some good dry fly action - midge patterns such as the Grifftih's Gnat, Micro Wulff Cripple and H&L Variant #20 have been good choices.
The Yellowstone provided some clients and I with an exceptional day last Friday. Once again, it was an afternoon thing but when it got going, fish responded well to Red Soft hackle Copper Johns, Soft HAckle Pheasant Tails and the McKee's Rubberlegs stonefly pattern. Surface activity was limited which we credited to the bright sunshine. As soon as it warms up again I would expect to start seeing some baetis.
The spring creeks in Livingston (Depuy's, Armstrong's and Nelson's) have also been getting good as rainbows move in from the Yellowstone to get ready for spawning. Though I don't condone fishing to spawning fish and working the redds, I do enjoy fishing to the numberous fish that have shown up in other areas of the creek. Midges, eggs, scuds are consistent bets and when it comes to the dry flies, a variety of midge and baetis patterns will do the trick.
Have also heard some excellent reports from the Gallatin as well - Golden Stones and Prince nymphs have been the ticket in the canyon.
With the boat freshly painted, a winter's worth of flies tied and a touch of spring fever, I'm ready to to get back on the water on a more consistent basis. Tthings have been good but they're only going to get better in the coming weeks.