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Lower Madison River Fishing in May

Lower Madison River Fly Fishing In May

The first two weeks of May offer stellar fly fishing on Montana's Lower Madison River. The Mother's Day caddis hatch continues throughout the early weeks of May, providing some of the year's best dry fly fishing near Bozeman.

Anglers should plan to fish the Lower Madison in the early part of May as difficult conditions can arise later in the month with the arrival of runoff.

Despite potentially challenging river conditions later in May, experienced fly anglers can still expect to catch a few Madison River fish during high water using nymphs and streamers.

Expect difficult wading conditions from mid-May through early June.

Lower Madison River Fly Fishing Hatches in May

The caddis hatch draws anglers from around the region to the Lower Madison once the Yellowstone River blows out in early May. Expect heavy hatches throughout the day, with the best fishing opportunities on overcast days or during the evenings.

March browns, blue-winged olives (BWOs), yellow sallies, and pale morning duns (PMDs) can be expected as well. Variable water conditions in May make these hatches less predictable.

Some salmonflies and golden stones can be found sporadically throughout Beartrap Canyon in late May. Environmental changes have negatively impacted this once fantastic hatch event.

Bozeman Fly Fishing Guide Pro-Tip:

Fly fishing the Lower Madison River in May during the Mother's Day caddis hatch can be some of the best fly fishing in Montana. In the evenings, adult caddis return to the surface to lay their eggs. Tie a size #16 olive X-Caddis to 9-10 foot 5X nylon leader, and target shady areas along the bank where the trout feel safe feeding.

Lower Madison River Fly Fishing Techniques in May

Use Elk Hair Caddis dry flies in sizes #14-#16 during the Mother’s Day caddis hatch when fish are visibly rising. Add a small dropper like a Peacock and Partridge or Mother’s Day caddis pupa using 4X tippet when you see bugs, but the fish aren’t rising.

Tandem nymph rigs are consistently productive throughout May on the Lower Madison. We recommend pairing something big with something small: a stonefly or crayfish fly followed by caddis or mayfly nymph dropper. Streamer fishing is effective in early May but less so once river flows exceed 3000 CFS from Madison Dam later in the month.

Lower Madison River Fly Box in May

Lower Madison River Fly Fishing Guide Trips in May

Flexible timing will give you a better chance at success during the Mother’s Day caddis hatch. Novice anglers can learn a variety of Madison River fishing techniques with one of our seasoned guides during the hatch. Experienced anglers will appreciate the efforts our guides make to ensure that we time our fishing to coincide with the periods when both insects and trout are most active.

Floating the Lower Madison between the Warm Springs and Greycliff Fishing Access Sites offers anglers a varied angling experience in May. Most days will involve a variety of techniques including nymphing and streamer fishing from the boat.

Rising fish are best targeted from a stationary position either on foot or from the boat. The experienced guide staff at Fins and Feathers is always on the lookout for risers and carefully assesses each scenario to optimize angler success.

Learn more about Lower Madison fishing day trips with our staff of Bozeman fly fishing guides. Reach out to us through our Contact Form with questions regarding availability or planning your Montana fly fishing tour. Reservations can be secured online, via e-mail, or by calling us at 1-406-468-5019.

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