Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Favorite River - Madison River

This post and several more later about my favorite rivers never mean to how-to or where-to fish. I have no authority or experience to do that and I am not interested in. I simply love and enjoy these places and these post will express my love and dedication to those wonderful waters that deserve to run forever.

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.

Madison can be a bit complicated for the first time visiting anglers as I had experienced. It originates at "Madison Junction" where Firehole and Gibbon Rivers meet within Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for 14 miles then the rest is running in Montana. Also there are Hebgen and Quake Lakes during the course.

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 my hand-writing map of Madison above Seven Mile Bridge in Yellowstone Park. I first went with Google Earth and based on descriptions in Craig's book, I drew a map for spots, sectons, and pullouts. Then my own driving in the Park!! Whether I fish Madison or not, I pass here anyway on my way to Firehole, Gibbon, and any waters in the Park as long as I stay and start from the town of West Yellowstone. I think I finally completed my own map.

Now I again borrow Craig's sentence (technically Charie Brooks' words) about this top 7-mile of Madison. "Only 20% of those fishing this water catch fish". And one has to play along with lots of fishing pressure and sightseers' trafic. This was why I didn't get closer to this section. Instead I wanted to catch some trout anyway available in other sections as a visiting angler. But I finally tried here during my June trip just for the heck of it.

I caught this 17-incher a bit above Mount Haynes. There was a group of tourists at the pullout. I did not ask them for a picture but I showed them off and one of them walked toward me and took a pic for me.

Also from my June trip at Talus Storyborad, it was a really cold and cloudy morning for late June. I thought it would be a perfect streamer day so I rigged up a full-sinking line and a 5-inch unweighted streamer as Kelly Galloup's theory. First cast and strips, this 14-incher was WHAM!! 14-incher over-powered 5-incher but the fisherman above the water won!!

Then the famous Barns Pools. This is the Pool #1. This and the pool #2 below are very popular spots for everybody (locals or visitors) in the fall, which to me, just crazy. I like these two pools as anybody else but I don't think I get closer any more so much. I found and learned some other sections which most of people overlook or don't care. Or when lots of people are these two pools, Madison between lakes or below Quake Lake are empty!! Those are where I am gonna fish during my fall trip.

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!!

But the moment after I caught this 18-incher at the head of Pool #1. Photo was taken by a neighborhood fisherman. I was a bit happy after all!!

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.

Then the famous $3 Bridge. This riffle goes on and on. If one wants to cross the Madison without any intention for fishing and wading, I think one can! He or she would be washed away, but probably not get killed by drowning!!

Trout is wild and there are lots of fishing pressure, but somebody who can manage and observe all of those can be successful. Of course one can cast nymphs blindly and would catch lots of fish. Nothing wrong with that but to me, Madison is the most challenging water that makes me a better fisherman out of me, so why not push myself harder rather than just catching fish??
So far my experience is limited to only a part of this beautiful river. Due to the convenience to Yellowstone Park waters, I visit West Yellowstone, so I fish the Upper Madison. Eventually, I will do plan to fish around Ennis that has lots of opportunities for wading and I try to float various sections with guides as much as I can afford.

I really hope Madison River runs forever!!

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