Madison River Fishing Report

 (5)

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 in 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.

montana river map
 

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.
 
ennis-utlimate-trip-planning-guide
 
 
Featured Fishing Trips
Guided Fishing Trips
$
525
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
The Lower Madison provides memorable angling adventures. The river begins below Ennis Lake, flows through the majestic Beartrap Canyon and 35 miles downstream to the Headwaters of ... morethe 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.
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
 (1)
With over 55 combined years of experience fishing the Madison River, we have the deep knowledge needed to guide you down this Blue Ribbon River. Located in Ennis, Montana, one of the ... moretop fly fishing towns in the world, Red Mountain Adventures is conveniently located to help you with your fishing experience. 

Our guided float trips on the Madison River are perfect for:

First time anglers who come here first to get easy, effective, and mindful instruction on fly fishing

Novices to experts who gain from our deep knowledge and instruction on the Madison River

Anglers with particular needs including stalking monsters, increasing the score card, or "dries only"

Book with us today and enjoy the best in Montana fly fishing.
Additional Information
Tributaries:
Tributaries include the Firehole River and the Gibbon River
Source:
Madison Junction, inside Yellowstone National Park Wyoming
Mouth:
Missouri River, Three Forks, Montana
Length:
183 miles
Seasonal Conditions
Season
Temperature
Hatches
Spring
34 - 66
 F
Major Blue Winged Olive hatches; nymph and dry fishing
Summer
42 - 79
 F
Salmon Fly hatch late June/early July; mayflies and caddis through September
Fall
21 - 45
 F
Aggressive brown trout spawning; large streamers
Latest Guide Fishing Reports
Guide Reports
Southwest Montana is experiencing some hot weather right now, which means the fishing on the Madison River is great in the morning and fades toward the afternoon. Most of the bites ... morecome between dawn and noon with a drop off around 3pm. Most sections of the Madison still have PMD’s, Nocturnal Stoneflies, Caddis, and Yellow Sallies. Don’t expect much from dry flies unless you’re willing to get out really early. With the higher water temperatures in the afternoons you should always try to get the fish back in the water as quickly as possible. There’s a lot less fishing pressure on the Madison now that the Yellowstone has opened up, and the fish have taken well to this.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Monday, 24 Jul, 2017
Fish Caught:
9-12 fish
Water levels have somewhat leveled off the Madison at the Kirby ranch ended up at about 2500 and up coming cool weather ought to send it back down toward normal. About 1150 cfs. I ... moredon't think it will get all the way back to normal, it is going to stay high. But it fall with next week's cold weather. This should offer up some excellent fishing operating ties. Although high, the water is already starting to clear up. We only need about a foot of visibility coupled with falling flows and it should be show time.

This last spike in flow was not it for runoff. There is still lots of snow. There is going to be another spike. It's just a matter of when and how big. If this combination of hot then cool weather continues, it could be a be a very civil runoff. Might even be able to fish right through it. Time will tell. Tight lines
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Friday, 12 May, 2017
The float section of the Madison starts at Lyons bridge and ends at the Ennis bridge. Fishing has been up and down all spring depending mostly on the weather. Get an overcast calm ... moreday with temps at least into the high 40s fishing seems to pretty good. Clear cold and windy, stay home and tie flies. The main show in the float section is still streamers stripped hard off the bank. Black seems to be the most productive for me. Fishing seems to start around noon peaking about 2:00 then dying of around 4:00 or 5:00. Warmest part of the day. Crowds aren't here yet it's nice and lonely out there
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Friday, 5 May, 2017
Fish Caught:
9-12 fish
The spawning rainbow thing is going off between quake and hebgan. The rainbows are moving up out of quake lake and stacking up below hebgan dam, but it's no big secret. You will have ... morecompany. It seems to be a race to the first soft water below hebgan. It's a great hole full of fish but angler density is a little to high for me. Down closer to quake lake there are a couple of small channels on the other side of the river that are chalk full of rainbows, if your a strong enough wader to cross the main river. Due to high snow pack they have already started raising flows. As of yesterday it was up to 1400. Which is high for this time of year. Wading caution is called for.

As far as flies. Spaghetti and meat balls "San Juan worm and an egg ball". Have been the best. Although you can still find the bigger fish on a black biggest. Over all fishin is good just expect company.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Thursday, 4 May, 2017
Fish Caught:
4-8 fish
Here comes fishin season. The Mother's Day cadis hatch has popped on the lower Madison. More and more bugs every day. Fishing is best when the sun is off the water. Yesterday we fished ... morelate and that seemed to do the trick. We put on at warm springs about 4:00 in the afternoon. Hardly any bug activity until almost 6:30, but they finally did show up and the fish were looking up. We ended up with about a dozen fish by the time we got to the damsel fly takeout. We got out about 8:00 and it was still going off and there was still plenty of light. I wished we would have moved a little slower. As far as mid day is concerned the usual nymph streamer combinations. Seem to be the ticket. Bunny fur or rubber with a size 16 prince has been the best for me. Fishing during the day has been ok but the real show seems to be in the evening all the way to dark
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Friday, 5 May, 2017
Fish Caught:
4-8 fish
Spring fly fishing season on the Madison has officially arrived. We have already started leading some guided fishing trips and the ice pack is long gone. The weather is warming up ... morea bit, and overall is nice. Currently, slow nymphing and streamer fishing are getting good activity. Blue Winged Olives should also get some action later in the day. The Madison is living up to its spring potential. It’s also really nice having the entire stretch from Reynolds Pass to Ennis lake open right now—anglers are finding more room to spread out along the river. 

Looking forward to the summer, we should see great water conditions on all our rivers, fewer closures, and less crowding on the Madison due to the great snowpack. All of the major drainages in the area are at or above average snowpack levels. This is good news for surrounding streams, where anglers will be able to find their own space instead of clogging up the Madison. On some years with low water (i.e. the last several years), the Madison becomes the only spot with really good fishing in Southwest Montana. That’s because of the cool water coming from Hebgen dam and the fast-moving oxygenated water of the Madison. This should turn out to be a great year with plenty of options for fly anglers to choose from!

We’ll have to wait and see how bad the runoff is this year, and that will all depend on the weather. With temperatures in the 80s for extended periods of time (around late May or early June), the river will become jammed with dirt and the runoff will be extreme, but short. On the other hand, if things start slow with a mix of warm and cool days, it could mean mildly clear water and fishable conditions all through the runoff. No matter what, we can always find a great place to fish, it might just mean we have to spend more time in the car!
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Monday, 17 Apr, 2017
Fish Caught:
4-8 fish
Upper Madison isn't sure whether it is still summer or fall. Everything semis to be working Kind of. Nothing is really killing them. Still if your willing to stay with a streamer. ... moreYou'll end up with a few shots at good fish. Hoppers and ants after it warms up in the afternoon are still getting good action. But not seeing much in the size department.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Wednesday, 31 Aug, 2016
Fishing turned out to be super fun with my friend Julia. We did Palisades to McAtee bridge to stay in front of the windy point traffic and behind the Ruby Creek crowd. I had her start ... morewith a half downed hopper and a flying ant. We never took 'em off. Whether they were eating the half downed for a moth or a hopper, I don't know. Since there weren't too many pine tree's around and they started eating it more regularly in the afternoon, it makes me think that they were eating the half downed hopper as a moth in the morning and a hopper in the afternoon. Red flying ant caught fish all day. Saw smaller black naturals but felt no need to switch. Fished dries, stayed out of the crowds, beautiful day--wonderful float. Thanks Julia
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Tuesday, 16 Aug, 2016
Fish Caught:
20 fish or more
Upper Madison is holding up great this year. The bad news for the pine trees is that it is a big year for the spruce moth. Good news for anglers and fish is hat it is a good year for ... morethe spruce moths. Hot weather has the powers that be flush flowing the beartrraps to keep water temps down that takes a lot of water so they have raised the upper. Higher water seems to cooled off the dry fly fishing a bit the big daddy's are starting to hunt sculpins. So streamer season is beginning. Tight lines everyone E
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Saturday, 6 Aug, 2016
Fish Caught:
13-19 fish
Madison is holding up well. Streamers dries , and nymphs are all still working. Streamers in the morning close to the bank. 6in is not close enough. Dries start up later when the bug ... morelife wakes up. We've had good caddis mixed in with some PMDs. Caddis fishing has been good in the evening. Chasing bobbers down middle is still going on with lots of big whitefish, always good for getting a few rods bent
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Wednesday, 13 Jul, 2016
Fishing Trips
The Upper Madison begins its journey in Yellowstone Park. Soon after leaving the park boundaries, Hebgen Dam creates the first of three reservoirs on the Madison River. A few miles ... moredownstream 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 angling adventures. The river begins below Ennis Lake, flows through the majestic Beartrap Canyon and 35 miles downstream to the Headwaters of ... morethe 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.
  • 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 meet to throw? Or have you just seen these ... morehuge flies in the shop and wanna learn a thing a two? Either way MFFT 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
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 the quality of dry fly fishing on his last few trips
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 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:
  • Transportation to the river and back from Ennis, Mt.
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunches every day
  • Floating and learning the famous Madison River with a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide!
The Mother Madison has many different faces on its floatable and fishable stretch, starting at Lyons bridge where the river runs its way through pine trees towering above the banks, ... moreis fast and boulder strewn and as you approach your takeout you have fished possibly the most scenic float on the river. Once past Mcatee bridge, the water starts to widen and shallow up a bit as you reach the valley floor. A few miles past Mcatee you will Reach the "Cameron Flats" where you lose the trees and vegetation and feel like an ant surrounded by breathtaking mountain ranges. These flats run until you get a mile from Varney bridge, then you hit the "miracle mile" nuff said. The river from Varney to town ends in maze of twists and turns, full of deep holes and cottonwood covered banks. This stretch holds the biggest fish in the river. You wanna see it all? You can!! Montana Fly Fishing Trips will take you down all 30+ miles of floatable and fishable water that the Madison offers in just three days. Different sections offer different insects to match, different techniques and a chance to learn how to fish many different types of water. THIS is how you learn the Madison.
Destination:
 (1)
  • Transportation to the river and back from Ennis, Alder, Sheridan or Twin Bridges.
  • Access to top of the line fishing equipment
  • Wonderful streamside lunches
  • Casting instruction
  • Knot tying instruction
  • Entomology lessons
  • Learning how to "read the water"
  • Beautiful 2-3 day float trip in pristine Montana
  • All from a professional, experienced and enthusiastic MFFT fishing guide
This is our 2-3 day, personalized introduction to fly fishing. You will learn knots, fly selection, how to find where the fish are and soooo much more. Our guides have been fishing ... moreall of their lives, they know what their doing and are excited to share that knowledge with you! We offer this on the water, individualized, class in two and three day sessions. Besides another great day of fishing, the booking the three day intro will give you a chance to: ask more questions as you learn more and start knowing what questions to ask, see more of a variety of water and better learn to adjust your fishing to different situations, get a better understanding of bug life (entemology) and what part that plays in your fishing plans, as well as more intricate fishing knowledge from one of our professional and experienced guides. The rivers you learn this wonderful sport will be determined by the guide and where he/she thinks you will be most successful. However, if there is a certain river you would like to spend some time on, let us know and we are happy to accommodate.
Destination:
  • 2 days with a guided expert
  • 1 day of perfect wade fishing recipes
  • Expert instruction to take you to the next level
  • Lunch, drinks, and flies during your guided trips
Experience the Madison River Like Never Before Learn the best spots on the Madison River with 3 great fishing days with Red Mountain Adventures. Eric Shores, with over 35 years of ... moreexperiencing guiding on the Madison River will take you down a journey of the best places to fish.

The journey starts on the Upper Madison River on a guided float trip covering about 8-11 miles of premier fly fishing water. The following day includes a recipe (location flies, and technique) on a do it yourself wade location near the fly fishing town of Ennis. The third day moves you on to where the Madison River dumps into Ennis Lake for a full float day stalking the giants.

Note: The order or location may change based on where the best spots are at the time.
Destination:
 (1)
  • 3 days with a guided expert
  • 2 days of perfect wade fishing recipes
  • Expert instruction to take you to the next level
  • Lunch, drinks, and flies during your guided trips
Experience the Madison River Like Never Before Learn the best spots on the Madison River with 5 great fishing days with Red Mountain Adventures. Eric Shores, with over 35 years of ... moreexperiencing guiding on the Madison River will take you down a journey of the best places to fish.

The journey starts on the Upper Madison River on a guided float trip covering about 8-11 miles of premier fly fishing water. The following day includes a recipe (location flies, and technique) on a do it yourself wade location near the fly fishing town of Ennis. The third day moves you on to where the Madison River dumps into Ennis Lake for a full float day stalking the giants. The following day provides instructions again for a do it yourself wade day. Location will depend on the hot locations during your visit. The final day is another full day float day on the lower Madison River. All together, you will experience the Madison River like never before by true expert.

Note: The order or location may change based on where the best spots are at the time.
Destination:
Current Forecast
Water Flow
River Water Temperature
5 reviews   1 comments
Fishing Quality
(5.0 of 5)
Scenery
(5.0 of 5)
Access
(5.0 of 5)
Water quality
(4.8 of 5)
Classic fishing river
This is as good as it gets in Montana, the very best fly fishing!
Fishing Quality
Scenery
Access
Water quality
0
0
Awesome
The Madison offers it all with plenty of access points from beginning to end.The best way to enjoy it is to get yourself a good guide.
Fishing Quality
Scenery
Access
Water quality
0
0
Ranked as in the top 10 of fishing rivers
A great trout stream for fly fishing with its headwaters inYellowstone National Park, the Madison River has great fishing both in the Parkas well as downstream in Montana. The Madison is another river featuringfantastic hatches and great fly fishing.
Fishing Quality
Scenery
Access
Water quality
0
0
Anonymous
Fishing Expert
A very nice article. Detailed discussions have been concerned about the issue. I have a site about phishing. If you do not mind, but I can connect with. Let’s go now http://www.fishingexpert.net
0
0
One of the best fly fishing rivers in the country
Fishing Quality
Scenery
Access
Water quality
0
0
Fishing on the Madison River
We’d like to encourage anyone interested in a really great experience to fish the Madison River. We were visiting Yellowstone with another couple and we decided we’d like to go on a fishing adventure. We hired a guide service that was very professional and extremely friendly people to spend the day with. They alerted us to all of the hot spots along the river and were extra careful to make sure all ... more of the fish we caught made it into the boat. They provided us with a wonderful picnic lunch on an island, a brief history of the area, and always made us feel very comfortable and relaxed. We highly recommend that you book a fishing experience on the Madison River.
Fishing Quality
Scenery
Access
Water quality
0
0