My first post has to be about Madison River. It is definetely "THE" most diverse and most challenging water on the earth to me. It has all; tremendous insect hatches, springcreek/chalk stream quality, riffles, pockets, pools, and then big trout.
These books help me understand what is all about. Craig Mathes' two books are very important and I am reading again and again. Then Chuck Robbins' guide book for most of Montana waters is essential too. I borrow Craig's sentence, "There are no 'averages' you can trust about this river". I believe if one can catch trout constantly in Madison, especially fool some big ones, one can catch trout anywhere one can go.
Here is one of the most memorable fish from Barns Pool section (sarcastically!!). I was fishing at just above the Pool #1, called Cable Car Run, with a huge streamer trailed with an egg fly. I felt tugs and tapps on my line and it ran away. I thought it would be at least a 25-inch brown!! But the fact was this 17-inch Whitefish foul-hooked on its dorsal fin........Please take a look at the yellow spot on the dorsal fin, that was my egg fly. This pulled out my backing line all the way and went through all the Cable Car and the head of Pool #1 till I dragged to the bank........more than enough!!
Sections below Hebgen Dam and Quake Lake are another stories. It is simply amazing to me. It's all riffles, mostly fast and shallow. For most of anglers, like I used to be, it doesn't look like holding big fish. I used to think about big fish = big pools and holes. This can be true but all the experience at the Madison blew me away, instead gave me other approaches to undesrstand trout and to read waters. One of the best examples is that oftentimes, trout are hanging around right where you are going to wade!!
This is one of the best brown I caught without guides though the photo is shakey from the excitement on my hands. 19.5-inch from Between Lakes. I stopped a car with a group of people as I was fighting and landing it!!
Me at Raynolds Pass. 16-inches but it was a fat and healthy browny during the run-off time.