Madison

Madison Redux

By TB

Last year, we fished the Madison River both inside Yellowstone National Park and outside in Montana.  The Madison is one of those rivers that always produces fish and sometimes gives you an “epic” day on the water.  We had that epic day, inside the park, with Patrick Daigle of Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, swinging flies in October.  We had another epic day on the wate,r outside the park, this past week with Steve Smith of Rivers Edge Fly Shop in Bozeman.

Barb and I were in a boat with Steve and our Bozeman friends, Sue Doss and Dud Lutton along with their dog Solomon, joined us for the trip.  We put in at Burnt Tree on a cold, breezy morning and were a bit concerned about even more wind and cold hitting us all day.  As it turned out, if it did get colder and windier, we didn’t care because we were ON fish all day.

We fished from the boat most of the morning but focused on the deeper buckets as we drifted downriver.  We were hitting fish all morning, both browns and the most beautiful rainbows, all in the 14″-16″ range, with a few 18″-20″ fish as well.  When we stopped for lunch with Dud and Sue, we shared stories and what was working.  It was all wire worms and small midges doing the trick.  Red seemed to be the color of choice for these hungry trout.

At lunch, we’d dropped anchor in a “fishy” spot, so after we’d eaten, Barb fished in a one person hole and I took over picture responsibility.  Bam!  Fish on… and what was so funny, was that about 30 yards downstream, there was Solomon, jumping out of Dud’s boat, and heading upstream to be a part of Barb’s catch.  Dud came running upstream to bring Solomon back to his boat, but once back….. BAM!  Barb hooked another fish and Solomon was on the move.  We did this another 4 or 5 times before pulling up anchor to begin our afternoon of fishing.

We’d had an incredible morning and couldn’t imagine the afternoon getting better, but it did.  Instead of fishing from the boat, we found spots to get out and wade fish.  In each spot, we hooked into fish again and again.  Strong, beautiful trout ready to bend our rods and boy did they.

We fished about 5 different buckets after lunch and at each location, we caught so many fish.  When we left to fish the next spot, we full well knew there were even more fish that could have been hooked in the hole.   You never want to use the “E” word but this day was EPIC!

At the end of the day, we floated downriver, enjoying the incredible scenery around us, the snow on the mountains and even a moose taking a peek at the drift boat as we slowly passed.  We’re still talking about how great the trip was and how Steve was a great guide.

Ramble On

Yellowstone National Park (YNP) is one of our favorite places on earth.  We’ve fished in the park many times before, primarily in the northeast corner on the Lamar, Soda Butte and Slough Creek.  While we’ve fished the Madison and Firehole rivers before, we’d never fished them with a guide.

We hooked up with our guide, Patrick Daigle at Blue Ribbon Flies, ready to explore a few of YNP’s gems, the Madison, Firehole and Gibbon.  Patrick took me out to our first hole, totally away from any other anglers, not a soul in sight, and the “Magic” began.  Swinging flies for hungry trout coming up out of Hebgen Lake into the Madison is so fun;  waiting for that strike on the fly as it swings and sets off the trout.  We explored a few holes, had a few tugs but no takes and then, boom!

First it was Barb who hooked into one of these incredibly beautiful rainbows and the fight was on.  We learned some new techniques from Patrick, the most important one was tilting our rod down and upstream.  When we did this, it caused the trout to swim upstream toward us.  This made Barb’s landing of that first fish of the day so much easier.

Next it was my turn in the pool and within about 5 casts, fish on!  While I was practicing the same techniques to land the fish, this trout was really ticked off at getting hooked.  He jumped and then ran way downstream and around some rocks.  Patrick was preparing me for the likely outcome of loosing the fish on the rocks.  However, with a couple of other tips from Patrick, we were able to get the fish away from the rocks and headed back upstream to our waiting net.  It was an amazing fight to hook and land this big rainbow.

Our day was made, but there was so much more to come.  We went to another hole on the Madison and decided to nymph fish.  Good decision!  We hit into a great number of big, beautiful rainbows who hit our rubber legs, shop vacs, and prince nymphs.  It was lunchtime but we didn’t want to take a break given how great the fishing had become.

Afterward, we hit the Firehole in the canyon section and then the Gibbon.  However, the Madison kept calling us back.  While we didn’t get back to it with Patrick, he had shown us an “epic” day in YNP and we were able to go back the next day and hook more fish.

Patrick is an outstanding guide and gave us the confidence in reading the waters, picking the right flies, putting us on fish and helping us with the techniques needed to land them in these waters.  I won’t mention any of the holes where we hooked into all the fish.   You’ll have to book Patrick and let him show you these pristine waters through his eyes and expertise.  For now, please enjoy his interview we did along the Madison river after a magical day in YNP.

We think of the Madison as one of our “home” waters so it’s always a treat to fish it.  When we stopped at Kelly Galloup’s Slide Inn to book our guide trip, Kelly said he knew the “perfect” guide for us….  Doug “Spaz” Pauline.   Kelly described him as “kind of a hippie” and lots of fun, which sounded really good to us.

When we met Doug, we knew it was going to be a crazy day…. maybe even some mayhem along the way.   We had a great day on the water, hooked into some beautiful rainbow, brown and, ahem, Rocky Mountain golden-hued white “tarpon”.  When we got back to Slide Inn for the interview, that’s when the “mayhem” happened.

It’s always fun to do the interview in the fly shop and this was no exception.  Doug’s buddies wouldn’t leave him alone as we started the interview and had us laughing constantly.  You may hear a bit of their hijinks in the background.  We hope you enjoy this “Guide Talk” as much as we enjoyed our day fishing with Doug.  🍻 Cheers!