This year we had a gorge late Dec., a thaw, then a re-gorge late Jan. The second gorge was a good one, with ice piling up right to the lip of the Ennis town bridge. Both gorges were triggered by bitter cold snaps of 30 below zero in Dec. and 20 below zero in Jan.
Valley Garden and Ennis campgrounds remain closed. I’m guessing all this ice moving around will rearrange the river pretty good from Comleyville Rapids down through Valley Garden and the Channels stretch, plowing up new gravel bars, eradicating some old ones, and gouging out some new “fishing holes” along the way.
I am concerned this severe gorging could put a dent in the fish population in the river from Ennis to the lake…a population that is already slim in my opinion. I do remember fisheries biologists telling me a severe gorge can take its toll on the trout, especially the juveniles. Keep an eye on the eagle activity where the channels of the Madison empty into Ennis Lake, right after the gorge breaks loose in March and the lake begins to thaw. The large raptors will be on the hunt for winterkill trout washing downstream, as well as dead deer and other less fortunate critters.
Photos by Randy Brown