It is getting close to that time of the year here in Bozeman, Big Sky, and Livingston fly fishing trifecta.
Our local rivers, the Madison, Yellowstone, and Gallatin are all in prime shape for early season, aka, the Mother's Day Caddis Hatch. Now...a lot can dictate if this year's hatches are epical or simply unfishable. Here's a quick scoop on what to expect and how to best plan accordingly.
Faith in trip planning. If you're planning a trip, whether guided or unguided, have faith that you will find clear water and you will find rising fish. We've been chasing this hatch for over 30 years and feel good about it this year. If you planning on hiring guides, get on it as rates are cheap through April and we are getting booked.
Lower Madison is your best bet, but the Gallatin and Yellowstone could happen, too. With our weather forecast for the next ten days looking to be a little warmer than expected, we might see some runoff start...HOWEVER, the nightly lows are still going to be cold enough for the heart of runoff to hold-off for now. Keep checking our reports and plan accordingly. For caddis we like daytime highs in the mid-60s for a few days and nightime lows in the 30s....so far we are on that pattern.
Get out there anyway. Last year we had some runoff early, the weather turned cold, and then we had a few days of amazing caddis action on the Yellowstone and Gallatin. Conditions truly change daily. Clarity needs only to be a foot or two and the fish will go to town on caddis. A little high-risk, high-reward mentality goes a long way in chasing Mother's Day caddis.
Lower is often first, Yellowstone second, and Gallatin third. Because it runs a tad warmer, the Lower Madison usually sees caddis first. It is possible to fish this hatch for a month--Lower for a week or two, Yellowstone River for a week, then the Gallatin River near Big Sky and Bozeman...however, having this scenario pan-out is pretty darn rare because that means runoff stays away for longer than normal.
Bottom line: get out there and chase caddis!