It’s not that I’m a Madison River freak or that I particularly like the river better than any others around here, it’s just that it’s right out the back door and easy to spend a few hours
on when I have the kids with me. So, yesterday, after sighting in the .300 Winchester Short Mag with girls, we went to Varney Bridge and ate lunch. Then we drove through town and headed north, turned east at McCallister, and wound our way around Ennis Lake until we were parked below Ennis Dam, staring at a windy little pocketwater stream with boulders galore and little deep pockets, seams and pools that stood out from the less productive water by the dark green tint. Find dark water here and you’ll find fish.
My five-year-old daughter, Tate, can cast a fly rod ok, especially from a boat. But from the bank, with a little sister pestering her, and a downstream wind…well, dad took over the casting duties. Can’t tell you how many fish I hooked. Spent two hours in a 50 yard stretch of water and must have stung 25 or 30. Each time I called to Tate, who was creating musical instruments out of limbs and rocks, and said, “Come on, reel this one in.” She gladly grabbed the rod and reeled these things in one after the other. What things? you ask. Lots of rainbows and browns ranging between 11 and 15 inches with a couple 16s thrown into the mix. And, a monster whitefish.
So, you have some time and want to hit the canyon? Here’s what you need. Throw a nine-foot five weight stick, like a Redington Pursuit or a Sage Z-Axis or a Loomis NRX. Run a 12-foot leader that tapers to 3X or 4X. Tie on a GIE or some other egg imitation. Then run 16 inches of 4X tippet off the eye of that hook. Attache a basic Baetis nymph pattern, such as a size-16 or size-18 Hare’s Ear Nymph or Pheasant Tail Nymph. Place two size BB split shot about eight inches above the GIE. Attach a strike indicator to the leader about seven or eight feet above the GIE. Cast slightly upstream, mend to allow the flies to sink, and prepare to slay.
Remember, the key is to keep the flies near bottom. Don’t worry about losing your flies—remember, that’s why you’re throwing the GIE. Takes about 20 seconds to tie those. Fish the dark seems and pockets between exposed and submerged boulders.
If you do that in the Beartrap Canyon anytime this month or next month, any cast could draw attention from a 20-inch or better fish. The browns are colored up and on the move and they will eat those eggs. Have fun and enjoy these pics.