Perfect Day Fly Fishing the Gardens at Ennis Montana

Fly Fishing, Planning, Perfect Fishing Days
Added Date:
Friday, 13 Nov, 2015
Your perfect day in the gardens starts with a hearty breakfast at the Pharmacy located on Main Street. Order the Indian fried bread as a side. Try to get there about 8am and give yourself about an hour. From breakfast to fishing it’s just a skip and a hop. Stop by Pic-a-nic Basket at 97 1st Street, Ennis Mt and get your bagged lunch.

Morning - Starting Your Day Fly Fishing in the Garden

Your perfect day in the gardens starts with a hearty breakfast at the Pharmacy located on Main Street. Order the Indian fried bread as a side. Try to get there about 8am and give yourself about an hour. From breakfast to fishing it’s just a skip and a hop. Stop by Pic-a-nic Basket at 97 1st Street, Ennis Mt and get your bagged lunch. They make great lunches for your day in the water.

One of the many fantastic features about Ennis, Montana is that fantastic fishing is right out the back door. The Madison River rolls by right at the edge of town. Follow highway 287 for about a mile out of town and take the exit towards the quaint little hamlet of Jeffers. A little ways down the road you’ll find the exit to the Valley Garden fishing access. Locals call this area the gardens or the channels. The campground comes into sight right as you spot the river. A big pole with an Osprey nest on top marks the edge of the public access area. You park right by the water. Like most Montana fly fishing accesses there is a well maintained restroom (outhouse) right at the site.

On hot days, generally starting in June, you can wet wade this area. Water levels will be knee to hip deep with deep holes that can easily be avoided. The area forks into many channels that offer lots of grass banks. While black buggers with a beaded prince or copper john dropper are the old standby for overcast days, this area is perfect for the dry fly. Be prepared for a long hike and either bring water or filtration equipment.

You’ll want to get in around 9. While fishing can be great in all areas starting right at the camp ground, I recommend you hike down a bit and get some separation from the crowd (3 visible rods is generally a crowd down here). This is a wade fishing only area. You’ll see boats going through on the main channel which is on the right side going down river. For those of you that prefer solitude I recommend you hike down a mile or so and then make your way across river. It’s easy to get lost and separated in the channel. While I’m not a fan of technology on the water, it can save your day by getting you oriented. Google maps shows you exactly how far you’ve hiked down so you can estimate your time to get back or when the next fork will branch.

Bring a small plastic baggie to keep your phone dry. Pack some toilet paper lest you are fond of using foliage or sacrificing a few pages of your favorite book. If you hike in with multiple people I recommend bringing a spare rod. There is nothing that will ruin your day faster than having waded in for two hours and breaking your rod just as the perfect hatch comes off.

Read More Fly Fishing Packing Checklist for Montana

After you get on the water wade on down. The game is to keep on moving. Give them a few couple of looks and move on. Don’t try to hike this area all the way down to the lake. It’s too far and will exhaust you. If however you have a float tube or a pontoon boat, this is the place to launch it. Stay to the right near the main channel. You’ll spend about 4-5 hours floating down. Since fishing from the boat is not permitted you’ll pull over frequently or walk with your boat.

Afternoon - Leave Enough Time For Some of the Best Fly Fishing

Allow yourself at least an hour to fish the mouth of the river down by the lake. You’ll find big cruisers that come up for tasty bits. Much of this lake area is shallow and you can chase pods of fish by foot. Rather than row across the lake to Clute’s Landing boat launch, head right after you exit the main channel onto the lake. There are reeds close to the road where you’ll find a brand new fishing access. A small channel gets you closer to that access where you can portage off the water.

Evening - Recharge and Recount Your Pefect Fly Fishing Day

If you waded, time your day with sufficient sunlight to hike back up river. After a quick change of clothes, head to the Alley Bistro at 59 Hwy 287 on the other side of town for a great meal. They have very tasty food that is reasonably priced. Afer dinner, stop by Gravel Bar for a couple of beers and share your fish stories of the day with other fly fishermen. 

Packing List for the Day

    • Water or filtration equipment

    • Fly: Woolybugger, Prince, Copper John, Caddis, Grasshopper, H&&L, Royal Wolf; Optional: your favorite lake flies if you plan to float down to the lake

    • Sandwich for lunch

    • Flashlight – just in case you can’t resist the temptation to fish late

    • Small zip lock bag to keep your phone dry

    • Pack a rain jacket. You’ll be far down the river and deep into the channels. Weather changes quickly in these parts and temperatures can drop in the midst of hail even in summer. If you stumble and fill your waders a rain jacket can double as a shirt until it dries out.

    • Spare rod

    • Schedule a pickup if you plan to float down to the lake or call Connie's shuttle service to schedule your car to be shuttled. You’ll get the business card for Connie’s shuttle service at the Madison River Fishing Company

    • Change of clothes

    • Credit card for dinner.

    • Toilet paper tucked into a ziplock bag

    • The usual Sunscreen, polarized glasses and hat

    • 4x leaders, 3,4,5x tippet, light split shot

    • Optional float tube, pontoon and life vest

Don't forget to let us know how your day went!

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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 ... moreLake, 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.
Fishing Waters
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.
/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
3 days
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.
/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
4 hours - 1 day
Spend the day fishing for huge rainbows and big browns on the famous Madison River, a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. With more than 2000 fish per mile, the Madison River offers challenging ... moreand fun fishing for novice to seasoned angler.
/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
1 day
One of the three great tailwaters in Big Sky Country. stable water flows, dense populations of trout and great insect life make this river a great option almost any time of year. Multiple ... morespring creek influxes below Dillon, Montana create some great clear water, dry fly opportunities during the heat of the summer. Big Browns on hoppers. A great river to fly fish.

What the Beaverhead offers:

Over 80 miles of fishable water.

Tailwater reliability - very little runoff effect

Nymphing for larger than average trout.

PMD hatches in June and July that will cause you to make bad casts.

Rainbow trout that will straighten out hooks and break 3x tippet.

Brown trout that will chase size 4 streamers and inhale them.

Sight fishing... need I say more?
What do you think of when you hear "Montana?" Small towns? Cowboys? Cows? BIG TROUT?! The answer is D, "All of the above"! Montana is still the place it was 80 years ago, where a man's ... morehandshake means something and big trout thrive. Located in the "Trout Mecca" of Southwestern Montana, our location and our guide's experience allow us to guide on a number of world class rivers; the Madison, Jefferson, Ruby and Yellowstone rivers are arguably the best trout streams in the lower 48.

Whether you have never held a fishing pole in your life or if you've been fishing since you could walk, the versatile, select guides we employee at MFFT all live on, and spend all they're free time on, these select rivers. They know how satisfy ALL of our clients, from novice to pro.

But Montana is so much more than just a trout haven. With picturesque mountains, abundant wildlife and under a million people, you actually have to try to not enjoy our beautiful state. As longtime client and friend Don Patton once wrote me after a trip, "fish count is only one criteria, there are many more markers for success. We hit them all." Here at MFFT we strive to give our clients much more than just a fishing trip, we want to share our passion for fishing and our love of Montana with all of our guests and new friends.

Charles P. Graham

Owner-Montana Fly Fishing Trips

Montana Fishing Outfitter#10349

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