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Guide Johnny Noreika with a toady lower Madison rainbow. Photo: Ehren Wells
Spey crazed Ehren Wells with a nice brownie. Photo: Johnny N.

We’ve had several good reports from the lower Madison lately.  “The report is that the fishing is excellent, there’s no ice, there’s no people, and yesterday there was hardly any wind.  Low and slow is the way to go!”  This is one of the best times of the year to catch larger, predatory fish on the lower Madison.  Those who know this river well (as in the weed lanes, the holes, the buckets, the boulders) have a huge advantage over those who seldom fish it.  A hike into Bear Trap Canyon this time of year not only means less rattlesnakes and poison ivy, it also means a shot a big meat-eating brown.  The brighter the day the deeper you need to keep your flies.  If you are throwing streamers a sink tip will help, especially in the deeper areas where the larger fish tend to congregate.  Another method is to focus fishing midge dries over the many pods of rainbows.  Look for them on the inside corners or wherever slower currents occur.   These fish aren’t large, most of them in the 8-12 inch range.  The colder water temps make for some good jumpers and it’s always fun to put the streamer rod down for a while and watch a fish sip in your dry fly.  If you plan to rig a nymph rod as well, a Clouser Crayfish or Bow River Bugger followed by a small bead head nymph is usually productive…