What with the colder nights that we’ve had recently, the Yellowstone River is dropping like a rock. This morning, it’s down to about 6000 cfs at Corwin Springs. The river still has a good deal of color, so nymphs and streamers will likely be on the menu. But it may very well be floatable (and fishable) through the weekend, depending on how warm it gets between now and then. Try darker colors (black, brown, olive) in a Rubberlegs or a Wooly Bugger. For smaller dropper nymphs, red is also a good color (e.g., a red Soft-Hackle Copper John), as it is visible to fish in the dirty water.
Speaking of dirty water, we floated the Lower Madison on Sunday. The releases from the dam at Ennis Lake had shot up the day before and the water was pretty muddy. Sad to say, we got skunked on nymphs and small streamers. But the flows have come down somewhat since then, and your chances are better than ours were. Lots of bugs were about, including a few remaining caddis, Yellow Sally stoneflies, and March Brown mayflies. Water color permitting, you might run into some good dry fly fishing. And the bikini hatch has yet to start, so you won’t have to weave between the inner tubes. Don’t forget to grab a few crayfish patterns before you head over there.
I had a bit of a surprise on Armstrong Spring Creek on Monday. It was a typical March afternoon, cloudy, cool, with little ice pellets pelting me all day. Only it was really May 9th. Gotta love spring in Montana! I had anticipated nymphing all day, as I figured that there weren’t any major hatches occurring at the moment. I did catch a couple of nice fish on a size 20 red Zebra Midge (see the video below). All of a sudden, late in the afternoon, I started seeing a substantial number of late baetis (blue-winged olive) mayflies hatching. Soon enough, there were a good 10 fish rising to them. I managed to fool 4 or 5 trout with a size 18 Sprout Baetis before the fun came to an end. No proof, as the batteries on the GoPro had died. But it just goes to show that you have to be ready for anything on the spring creeks, lest you be caught unprepared.