There has been a lot of talk of the weather between me and my fishing buddies lately. It may not be the deepest topic of conversation, but it's weighing heavily on our minds as we approach the launch date for a 6 day Smith River trip. We knew that a launch of 4/27 was risky business, potentially inviting runoff into the equation. And sure enough, unseasonably warm weather over the past few days has blown out the rivers with snow melt. Of course it's not all bad, the warm weather also has mini-skirts out in full force around Bozeman. The Smith went from 200 cfs a week ago, to over 800 cfs yesterday. Fortunately there's a glimmer of hope in the forecast...the next few days bring cooler weather and with it, hope that the river will drop and clear. Plan B is a multi-day float on a remote tailwater river in MT, but I'm hoping it won't come to that. Wish us luck.
I haven't been out fishing much this week, deadlines for Montana Sporting Journal and Trout Magazine conspired against me. My most recent outing was on the upper Madison, where we spent an afternoon floating from Varney to Burnt Tree. The fishing wasn't spectacular from a numbers standpoint, but we caught some good size fish. With the exception of a whitefish or two, every fish we caught was a rainbow. I like to think that they were all resident fish, but some of them may very well have been interlopers, up from Ennis Lake. Most of the fish took golden stone nymphs, but a couple fell for a trailing pheasant tail or shop vac. This reach of river has some great looking water, including some very inviting side channels. We spent more time than we should have on the upper couple of miles, stopping to wade at nearly every good looking location, of which there were many. My buddy had a hot date back in town that night, so we had to cover the last few miles in a hurry. About mid-way through the float I eased up on the oars, gazed at the Madison Range, felt the warm sun on my face and realized that it just doesn't get much better than this.