Montana. Just saying those three syllables elicit visions of dancing trout in epic rivers. Although ice may still build on your rod's guides and snow may fly from time-to-time, Montana is calling, and it's time to hit the Madison River. Located in the heart of trout country, the Madison River is one of many epic destinations the Treasure State has to offer, and when spring arrives, the crowds are gone and the trout are active.
March & April
The Madison River is a fly fishing mecca for serious anglers. It is classified as a blue ribbon fishery in Montana and is one of the most productive streams for brown and rainbow trout. Recent estimates show over 4,000 trout per river mile in the upper sections of the Madison, with the average trout being in the 14 inch range; and if you squeeze some of the locals, they'll tell you 16 to 18 inchers are not uncommon.
Although it is known as a great float fishery, it also provides excellent wade fishing opportunities. When open, below Quake Lake down to Lyons Bridge is a 20 mile stretch that should not be overlooked, as well as the six-mile section between Ennis Lake and Ennis Bridge. Both are easily waded and offer exceptional trout opportunities. The "Fifty Mile Riffle" is another popular stretch for both wade and float anglers and should not be missed.
March and April bring great midge and baetis fishing on the Madison, with warm afternoons typically producing the best activity, especially on cloudy days. Even if the snow is flying, Madison trout always seem to be eager to please in the spring. Water conditions are typically low and clear before runoff so a good presentation is a must.
April & May
When April and May arrive, the fish become even more active before the spring runoff, and with the Madison's rich and diverse bug life, there's also something for them to sample. Some of the best hatches in late spring and summer include midge, blue winged olives, march browns and caddis. Scuds, minnows and sculpins are also present then, and with the water warming and the runoff starting, these are always very good options.
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Anglers like their tools close by. And it's even better if it's connected to you so it doesn't go in the drink. T-Reign retractable gear tethers hold onto your pliers, hemostats or landing net. Several size options. Carabiner connects to D-ring, belt loop or strap, or use the stainless steel clip on belt or pack.
Suzuki DF15A/20A EFI
Suzuki's two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki's Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
Rapala is hoping the new Scatter Rap Series lures and their 'evasive action ' will be as popular as the original 'wounded minnow ' style action that the company is famous for. The new lure has a 'Scatter Lip ' that creates an evasive, erratic, aggressive sweep-ing action. Ideal for multispecies gamefish, the Scatter Rap Series is available in 14-16 classic and new color patterns. Baits 5- to 9-feet deep.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There's enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
Honda Marine's BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
TACKLE TOTE VEST
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you're standing in deeper waters. It's adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
FLEX 'N GO TACKLE SATCHEL
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano's new Flex 'N Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
www.cabelas.com Jackets MSRP, $249.99-$269;
Cabela's Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
BERKLEY JAR BAIT FOLDER
Anglers who use jar baits know it's a pain to carry more than a few. Berk-ley now has two Jar Bait Folders to keep the baits at hand and make them easy to transport. Model 1170 holds 10 jars. Model 1490 holds 16. Both have various pockets and a D-ring for pliers.
BERKLEY TRILENE XL
Berkley says they've improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.
The new AV Micro is a complete underwater camera system that is the same size as a smart phone. On the boat or off the dock, use it to see where fish are hanging out. 3 1/2-inch diagonal display. Built-in rechargea-ble lithium ion batteries.
Smithwick Rogue's has been a stand-ard in bass-anglers' tackle boxes for years. Now they've got a new twist on the famous jerkbait. The
Perfect 10 Rogue has a new lip de-sign, to get deeper, quicker than other jerkbaits.
SIMMS WEATHER GEAR
MSRP, jacket $349, bibs $299.
Simms designed its Contender Gore-Tex jacket and bibs for anglers who need reliability when they are motor-ing on the water at 70 mph in rain and wind. Waterproof and breathable. Cuffs are water tight and adjustable.