Streams Outside Yellowstone National Park
.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park

Destinations Outside Yellowstone National Park Series

Madison River - Slide Inn to Lyon Bridge - Salmonfly Hatch

If you are wading or fishing from the bank (meaning not fishing from a drift boat) this
section of the Madison is one of the best locations to catch the salmonfly hatch. That is
not to say that anytime you go there you will be able to fish the salmonfly hatch. That is
certainly not the case. You must be there during the time it occurs.

The hatch starts on the lower Madison River and moves up stream a few miles a day
under normal weather conditions. Cold fronts and warm fronts can alter the rate and
time at which this occurs. Cold fronts can delay the hatch progressing upstream and
the warm fronts can speed it up. Yearly weather conditions, the runnoff and the snow
pack can change the time the salmonfly hatch occurs in this section of the river from
year to year. All that said, however, we have found it has occurred close to the first
week of July for the past ten years. I don't remember it varying from that over a couple
of weeks.

Now that still means that you would need to be there for as much as two or three weeks
and possibly even longer in order to catch it in this particular section of the river. It is
certainly easier to catch the salmonfly hatch a little earlier fishing from a drift boat. That
allows you to put in at different locations and to cover a lot more water during a day's

The other way to approach catching the hatch is to keep in touch with the local fly
shops. They will know where the hatch is from day to day. If you do that and are
prepared to leave any time and get there quickly, you could very well catch it without
much of a problem. Now that seems to be, and in fact is, going to a lot of effort to catch
one hatch when there is numerous other hatches occurring during the season and
many other great fishing opportunities in and around Yellowstone National Park. The
thing about it is that I think it is well worth the trouble. You can catch lots of large trout
during the hatch if you are there and if you fish it correctly. I will get into that tomorrow.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh