Ennis Montana

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This is a small town with a big heart, a veritable fisherman’s paradise. Located near the fish-filled Madison River, and surrounded by the waters of Ennis Lake, the Ruby River, Hebgen Lake, Quake Lake, Henry’s Lake, the Big Hole River and scores of smaller streams, the town boasts what many consider the best trout fishing in the world. As well known for its wranglers as its anglers, Ennis has succeeded in maintaining the look and feel of its original, gold town roots. Warm and hospitable, the area offers a wide variety of accommodations ranging from simple campsites, rustic motels and gracious hotels, to full-service, luxury resorts. Fly shops are numerous, stocked by local experts ready to advise and assist, while guides can be booked for trips throughout the area.
Boredom is the only thing unavailable in Ennis. Throughout the summer season the city hosts a series of events, including its renowned 4th of July Celebration Parade and a genuine, old-fashioned rodeo. In August, fly-fishing luminaries from around the US, flock to Montana to compete in the Madison Fly Fishing Festival. Athletes also find their way to Ennis to compete in the city’s Madison Trifecta, two shorter races followed by a full Marathon at 9000 feet, the highest elevation run in America. For the true sportsman, October falls in with the annual Hunter’s Feed. What’s caught, typically elk, moose deer, pheasant and bobcat, gets cooked on the streets and served up to hungry spectators.



Flanked by three grand mountain ranges, The Tobacco Root, Gravelly and Madison, Ennis is scenic and entertaining – truly an authentic, fly fisher’s haven.
 
Trips
The Yellowstone River is wild and scenic. With over 650 miles of untamed flows, the Yellowstone is the longest un-dammed river in the contiguous United States. From its origin inside ... moreYellowstone National Park, through Paradise Valley, the town of Livingston, Montana and beyond, the Yellowstone River offers approximately 200 miles of exceptional trout fishing. In addition, each stretch offers different scenery and unique fishing opportunities. Fishing four different stretches of the Yellowstone can feel much like fishing four different rivers entirely. Healthy, wild populations of Brown, Rainbow and Cutthroat trout keep beginners in the action and the avid fisherperson on their toes. Even though the Yellowstone is a well known river, it is not uncommon to spend a day on the water without seeing another boat. Mountain back drops and opportunities to view wildlife along the way, The Yellowstone offers an experience that few rivers can match.
The Upper Madison begins its journey in Yellowstone Park. Soon after leaving the park boundaries into Montana, Hebgen Dam creates the first of three reservoirs on the Madison River. ... moreA few miles downstream another reservoir was created in 1959 by an earthquake and resulting landslide. This body of water is known as, “Earthquake Lake”. From here the Upper Madison flows through the Madison Valley, past the town of Ennis and into Ennis Lake. The Lake being the, “divider” between the Upper and Lower river. Known as the, “50 mile riffle” the Upper Madison provides great structure and trout habitat wherever you look. Healthy populations of Brown and Rainbow trout, as well as, a huge variety of hatches and methods to fish them, make this river a favorite for many of our guests.
The Lower Madison provides memorable Montana angling adventures. The river begins below Ennis Lake, flows through the majestic Beartrap Canyon and 35 miles downstream to the Headwaters ... moreof the Missouri River. Because it is dam-controlled, the Lower Madison can be reliable when stream flows are higher in the Spring, and in late Fall when water temperatures start to drop elsewhere. Although not as well known as its upstream neighbor, The Upper Madison, the Lower is an exceptional fishery that can produce trout in attractive numbers and size. The Lower Madison is mostly known as a Brown and Rainbow trout fishery, though some cutthroats do exist in the river. Prolific hatches and large numbers of crayfish and sculpins make for very well-fed fish in The Lower Madison.
On its way to the Missouri Headwaters, the Jefferson River passes through an assorted landscape. At the town of Twin Bridges, Montana the Ruby River, Beaverhead River and Big Hole ... moreRiver converge to form the Jefferson. In its early stages the river advances past hay fields, large stands of cottonwood and agricultural landscapes. As the river reaches the town of Cardwell, the Jefferson is then flanked by large canyon walls, home to Lewis and Clark Caverns. Downstream of the canyon the river again proceeds through farm and ranchland laced with cottonwood trees until joining the Madison and Gallatin rivers. Though fishing on the Jefferson can be less consistent than on some of our other rivers, it can certainly make up for it with some very special moments. When the Jefferson is good, it can be great!
  • Expert guide
  • BBQ shore lunch
How often do you get to put your nymphs and streamers at home? Join us on a dry fly day to remember on the Big Hole. Enjoy fishing on one of the top blue ribbon fisheries in Montana ... morewith one of the most experienced Outfitters on the Big Hole. Regardless of ability gain new skills and techniques while enjoying the thrill of fishing dries.

Note

Depending on the season and what is catching, fly choices may change.
Destination:
The Big Hole River, outside of Ennis is one of the top blue-ribbon rivers in Montana. The guide staff at the Upland Angler is an extremely qualified, experienced group of professionals ... morewho have grown up fishing the local waters. We specialize in the Big Hole River and provide a variety of skills from beginner anglers, to experts alike. No matter where or how you choose to fish, we will strive to make your experience a truly enjoyable one.
Destination:
  • Transportation to and from the river (dependent on which river is fished)
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunch
  • Expert "Chuck and Duck" instruction from a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide
You know how big fish got to be big fish? By eating little fish. Are you a hog hunter looking for the right stretch to fish and what piece of meat to throw? Or have you just seen these ... morehuge flies in the shop and wanna learn a thing or two? Either way Montana Fly Fishing Trips is here for you. You can't just throw a wooly bugger and hope for the best. There are numerous books based solely on different streamer techniques. Why? Because these techniques have been proven to catch quality trout. However, there is no guarantee in fishing. Especially a big fish guarantee. We are here to help increase your chances of catching big fish, not only on your trip but forever, by teaching you techniques learned throughout extensive guide careers. *The location of this trip will be decided by the guide based the quality of streamer fishing on his last few trips.
Destination:
  • Transportation to and from the river (depending on which river is chosen)
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunch
  • Excellent instruction on nymph fishing from a knowledgable and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide!
We all know how to catch the most fish--nymphing. After all, nymphs account for over 80% of a fishes diet. But there is more to it than just flopping a bobber out there, much more. ... moreFor example, how far up your leader do you want to put that indicator? How much weight should you use? How often should you change your nymph rig? And that is just scratching the surface. Come with us on a fun filled day learning how to increase your success rate with nymphs! *The location of this trip will be decided by the guide based on the quality of nymph fishing on his last few trips. Come enjoy a great day on the water in Montana, and we'll help you have a blast!
Destination:
  • Transportation to and from the river (dependent on which river is fished)
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunch
  • Expert dry fly instruction from a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide
Are you sick of throwing bobbers and wanna try something new? Already throw dry flies but would like to hone your skills? Pretty darn good just want to be pointed in the right direction ... moreand given some bug recommendations but also there with a net when you need it? We can accommodate all skill levels on our dry fly only trips. We can explain how, what and where to fish something that doesn't look like a dodgeball at the top of your leader :) *The location of this trip will be decided by the guide based on the quality of dry fly fishing on his last few trips. Montana fishing at its finest.
Destination:
  • Transportation to and from the river (dependent on river being fished.)
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunch on each river
  • A three river adventure with a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide!
Variety is the spice of life, right? Well, that's where our 3 Rivers in 3 Days comes in because that's exactly what you'll be doing, fishing three different rivers in three days! With ... moreour choice of 4 world class Montana rivers, our guides will know what rivers to fish on which days to maximize your chances for success. Don't blink, you might miss something!
Destination:
Fishing Waters
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Maclean’s famous story, A River Runs Through It, is set on the now famous Blackfoot River. Despite this, Robert Redford’s 1992 movie version was largely filmed on the Gallatin as he ... morefelt the scenery and fishing were more cinematic. The river originates high in the mountains of the Gallatin Range inside Yellowstone National Park and flows for 115 miles until it intersects with the beginning of the Missouri River at Three Forks. Inside the Park, where it runs for more than 25 miles, floating is not allowed and there are restrictions on fishing. Once it exits the park, it crosses a forty-mile expanse of mostly public lands, and runs parallel to a highway that makes it quite accessible. Because the river is narrow for much of its run, float fishing is restricted from Yellowstone Park to the confluence with the East Gallatin River. No wonder this river has a great reputation for wade fishing!

Unimpeded by dams, the river provides consistent, easily waded flows from mid-summer through mid-spring. Rainbows predominate with an estimated 1400, 8+ inch, fish per mile from the West Fork confluence at Big Sky to the mouth of the canyon. Browns are abundant accompanied by occasional cutthroats, brook trout, white fish and graylings. New to the lower most band of the river are northern pike. Never known for trophy trout, the river offers excellent dry fly fishing and beautiful surroundings. Since the fish are recognized as indiscriminate eaters, the Gallatin has come to be known as an excellent river for those learning to fly fish.

Like much of Montana, the River played a significant role in the state’s history. First explored by Native American hunters, by the early 1900’s, the area eventually became known to fur-trappers and gold prospectors. By the turn of the twentieth century logging rose in importance to the local economy as loggers famously rode the logs down river to prevent them from jamming. The towns of Bozeman and Three Forks are most closely associated with the River although given the importance of Maclean’s legacy, Livingston should also be considered as part of its history and heritage.
Game Fish Opportunities:
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Ruby is the perfect name for this river, for it is a largely hidden, sparkling gem. Its crystal clear waters begin in the pristine Beaverhead National Forest in southwest Madison County, ... morebetween the Snowcrest Mountains and the Gravelly range. While it starts as a rather thin trickle, it picks up more than a dozen mountain, freestone creeks, and gains velocity as it flows for 40 miles past Alder and into the Ruby Reservoir. Past Alder, the river runs north between the beautiful Tobacco Root Mountains to the northeast and the Ruby Range to the southwest. Nestled in the quaint Ruby Valley, the river is conveniently located a mere thirty minutes from Ennis and a lovely one-hour drive from Bozeman. Like many other rivers in this region, the Ruby is small at only 76 miles in length, but it is full of surprisingly large fish.

Leaving Alder, the Ruby exits the reservoir as a tailwater and supports abundant midge, caddis, and Pale Morning Dun (PMD) hatches. For a short time the river passes through a scenic, arid canyon before abruptly transitioning into a meandering open agricultural valley. At this point the Ruby runs over vast swaths of private land, sometimes making access difficult. The 40 mile descent from Alder to Twin Bridges also crosses over high-end ranch properties, where again, access can be challenging although public access points do exist and can be easily located.

The river is open year round to fishing and conditions are good through all seasons. Springtime on the Ruby brings hatches of baetis and early season caddis. When the water warms in summer, the river will explode with Yellow Sallies and Pale Morning Duns (PMDs), along with hoppers and other terrestrials. Late summer and early fall is considered by many to be the best time to fish, as clouds settle in the high mountain valley providing fast paced action for the streamer enthusiast. Running a nymph rig subsurface, or using a dry/dropper combo is the best technique on the Ruby throughout the year.

Fish will jump for hoppers during the late summer months, while streamer-fishing can very satisfying throughout the summer and early fall. A predominantly brown trout fishery, the Ruby is full of trophies that often reach 18 – 20 inches. The greatest numbers of rainbow trout are found in the first few miles of the river just below the dam. If you seek a unique opportunity, the upper portions of the Ruby rumored to hold rare cutthroat trout and arctic grayling.
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The Jefferson River is an important part of a system of rivers that combine to form the majestic Missouri. Starting at the confluence of the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers near Twin ... moreBridges, Montana, it winds 77 miles in a northeasterly fashion to Three Forks. Here, it meets with the Madison and Gallatin rivers that together converge into the Missouri River at the Missouri Headwaters State Park. Like so many other rivers in Montana, the Jefferson, named by Clark in honor of the U.S. President, runs deep with history. In fact, the Jefferson River is a segment of the larger Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, administered by our National Park Service.

When thinking about the Jefferson, a Class 1 river for recreational enjoyment, most observers view the river in three distinct sections. Characterized by slow, meandering flows, the upper third works its way through a broad, arid valley. Along this braided, 44 mile long floodplain, you will encounter working farms, dense cottonwood stands, flowered meadows and a variety of wildlife until you reach the town of Cardwell. Throughout the next 15 miles, its waters flow through a narrow, steep canyon where the water can be deep, slow and contained. As a result, the stretch from Cardwell to the Sappington Bridge has comparatively fewer trees, swamps, meadows and wildlife.

At Sappington Bridge the river once again becomes a circuitous, rambling river, rich in swamp life, colorful fields, large cottonwood groves and productive agricultural land. The presence of significant agriculture has resulted in competition for water use. During dry years, the river was tapped generously for irrigation, dropping water levels to the point where fish populations were adversely affected. Recent improvement in riparian management has tended to alleviate these issues. Primarily known as a brown trout river, rainbows, mountain whitefish, burbot and northern pike can also be found here. Less well known and less discovered, the Jefferson offers the opportunity to catch large fish in a scenic, un-crowded environment.
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The Beaverhead is a nearly 70 mile long tributary of the Jefferson River. Its original course has changed due to the construction of the Clark Canyon Dam, as have its headwaters, once ... moreformed by the confluence of the Red Rock River and Horse Prairie Creek. These rivers, along with the first 6 miles of the Beaverhead, are now flooded as a result of the reservoir project. Today, the Beaverhead flows through a wide valley where it meets the Big Hole River and forms the Jefferson River. The river is well known for its clear, blue-green color, narrow, winding turns, willow-lined, undercut banks and thriving insect life that attracts fish.

The origin of its colorful name can be traced back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, when their indigenous guide, Sacajawea, recognized a large rock formation in the middle of the river known to her as the Beaver’s Head. According to Lewis, this indicated to her that they were close to the summer retreat of her Indian nation. On August 15, 1805 the party reached her tribe, where one of her remaining brothers, Cameahwait, Chief of the Shoshone, provided crude maps, food and horses, making it possible to continue the Expedition through the mountains. On their return trip Lewis gave the river, once full of beavers, the name it now holds.

Fortunately, floating the Beaverhead in today’s world is much easier, more fun and amply rewarding. It is widely considered one of Montana's premier Brown trout fishing rivers, producing more large trout, particularly Brown trout, than any other river in the state. Due to its abundance of large trout, fly fishing the stretch near Dillon, from Clark Canyon Dam to Barrett’s Dam and through to Twin Bridges, tends to be very popular and get can crowded, even although the fish can also be hard to catch. While large fish can be caught with dry flies, it is primarily a nymph fishing river along with a swiftly moving current, so expect to be constantly mending your line.
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The Big Hole River starts in the Beaverhead Mountains south of Jackson, Montana and flows on for about 156 miles. Beginning as a slight stream, it picks up muscle as it joins with ... morethe North Fork, and draws more volume as it passes through the Wise River basin. At the Continental Divide it changes its northeasterly direction and heads southeast until it joins the Beaverhead and forms the Jefferson River close to the town of Twin Bridges, Montana. It hosts one of the last known habitat for the native fluvial artic grayling but is best known to fly fishers for its trout.

Like so many Montana rivers, the Big Hole is as full of history as it is of water. When Lewis and Clark stumbled upon it, the river was providing a buffer zone between rival Indian tribes vying for land as they sagely anticipated the westward push of European miners, furriers and settlers. Fifty years later, a significant number of the Nez Percé, a tribe that had initially befriended the Expedition, refused to accept life on a reservation and were nearly wiped out by U.S. troops in the Battle of the Big Hole. Today’s battles consist of quarrels between ranchers who desire water for irrigation and recreational users who wish to see the water preserved.

Fishing the river can be basically divided into three sections. From the headwaters at Skinner Lake to Fish Trap, the river meanders slowly through high meadowlands. This is where the few remaining artic grayling can be found, although browns and rainbows are in abundance here. In the second section, Fish Trap to Melrose, you will find boulders and pocket water rushing through a narrow canyon; here rainbows outnumber the browns with an estimated 3000 fish per mile. The final section, Melrose to Twin Bridges, is lined with cottonwood bottoms, braided channels and long, slow pools. In contrast to the second link, browns outnumber rainbows 2 to 1 with approximately 3000 fish per mile.
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The Madison River is arguably one of the best trout fishing rivers in all of southwest Montana, if not the entire world! It’s certainly the most talked over, written up and frequented ... morein the state of Montana – which is considered by some the capital of fly fishing. Anglers will find plenty of great access sites to wade or float along the Madison’s banks and reservoirs (including Hebgen Lake and Ennis Lake). Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, and more abound in this majestic fishing stream.

The Madison begins its course almost twenty miles into Yellowstone National Park. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and catch and release only. Once outside the Park the river meanders past working ranches, stately conifer forests and cottonwood lined banks, interrupted by riffles and quiet runs that contain large rainbow and trophy brown trout. Flowing alongside Yellowstone’s West entrance road, the river enters Hebgen Lake, created by Hebgen dam, until it reaches Quake Lake, a bit downstream from the dam. At this point the river is commonly called either the Upper Madison or the Lower Madison, although in fact, they are one and the same.

Upper Madison – Quake Lake to Ennis Lake
Directly below Quake Lake the river roars into 5 long miles of Class V whitewater with steep gradients and large boulders along the way. As the rapids decline, the magic begins. For the next 53 miles, often referred to as the 50 Mile Riffle, the cold river runs north and the fish jump high. Annual runs of spawning trout make their way from Hebgen Lake, rainbows in the spring and browns in the fall. Known the world over for its “hard fighting” trout, it’s not unusual to pull a 25” brown from these upper waters. In deference to the purists and fly-fishing enthusiasts, it’s wading only from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge. Boats may be used to access the river, but if you’re going to fish, your feet must be on the riverbed. Fortunately, the Hebgen Dam releases water throughout the year, leveling its flows and relieving it of spring runoff issues and summer shrinkage.

Lower Madison – Ennis Lakes to Three Forks
A short section of the river between Ennis Dam and the power station maintains relatively low water levels and provides wonderful opportunities for wading. Past the power station the river regains its muscle and for 7 miles winds through Bear Trap Canyon. Hiking trails offer the only entry, great for those that like to walk and seek the solitude of a designated wilderness area. Floating is permitted but requires a lengthy shuttle and the ability to work through Class III-IV whitewater. Once out of the canyon the river flows in shallow riffles until it reaches Three Forks and joins the Missouri. From Warm Springs to Greycliff, the river is easily accessible for drifters and wading.
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Top Fly Fishing Towns in the US
Rated as one of the top trout fishing towns in the US byBob Mallard, author of 25 Best Towns - Fly Fishing for Trout
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Top Trout Town
Ennis, although it doesn’t offer much in the way of city life, is at the heart of Montana’s best trout country. It lies in proximity to some of the best Blue-Ribbon trout rivers in the state, all within a relatively short driving distance. Here, you can position yourself in a place to hit the hottest water, bouncing around to in accordance with conditions.
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