If you named your first born “Madison” you’re definitely part of the problem: A river that’s gaining drift-boat traffic despite the audacity of its trout population to stick to status quo numbers. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, angling pressure on the upper Madison River, the roughly 50 miles between Ennis and Quake Lake, boomed to the tune of about 200,000 angler days last year. That compares to 140,000 angler days in 2013, said Travis Horton, FWP’s Region 3 fisheries manager in Bozeman.
On the flip side, rainbow and brown trout numbers remain strong and shamefully steady—forcing swarms of mediocre anglers to adjust inflated expectations.
The average catch rate on the Madison used to be 1/2 of a trout an hour, Horton added. (Plus about a half-dozen whities.) That’s now dropped to 1/4 to 1/3 of a fish per hour, “because so many people are whipping flies at them.”
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.