THE MADISON RIVER
Stretching more than 50 miles from Hebgen Lake to Ennis Lake, the Madison River is certainly one of the crown jewels of Big Sky Country. Best fished from a drift boat, the Madison River and its biomass of trout provide an excellent representation of a true Western river. While its primary influx is that of a tailwater, the West Fork of the Madison River and several other mountain freestone tributaries make it fish more like a freestone river.
Even on the dreaded “low water years,” it seems the Madison maintains a stable, fishable flow, and for that reason we are very fortunate to have this river in our backyard. Between the stable water flows, the sheer number of “fish per mile,” and the scenery, the Madison rarely disappoints. The days of whirling disease seem to be long past, and the trout population reflects it. Numerous rainbows in the 14”-20” and super healthy brown trout will test any anglers skill level.
Great hatches of mayflies, stoneflies, caddis, and midges keep the trout in healthy shape year round. Our main fishing season on the Madison River is from April – October. Pre-runoff fishing in April and May seems to be our favorite time to be on the Madison River. Less pressure and hungry fish can make for some remarkable days, especially on those days when cabin fever seems to be taking over your mind.
Moving into the peak season, the stonefly hatch seems to hit in late June, just as runoff subsides. This brings the crowds of anglers wanting to throw size 4 dries to the banks, and I can’t blame them. That style of fishing is addictive, and only happens for a few days a year. While there are some real tricks to making a good day happen during the high pressure times, the scenery alone will make any day worth the trip.
Late summer and fall on the Madison River sees lots of pressure from anglers. This remarkable river takes the pressure, and the fishing remains steady. We tend to stay away from the Madison during the real busy times, but often will make this river part of our itinerary during your stay. Our guides have taken to fishing the river early and late – avoiding the crowds and finding more aggressive fish.
There are also two separate sections of the Madison River that are allocated strictly for the walk wade angler. Up top, from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge, and also down low from Varney Bridge to Ennis Lake. Our guides are very well versed in these waters, and will have no problem bringing aggressive waders to these stretches of river to spend a day.