Cold but great catching on the Madison River

Thursday, 10 Mar, 2016
Water Clarity
Angler Traffic
Fish Caught
4-8 fish
Ice is receding and the fly tiers are once again becoming fishermen. Temps are supposed to reach in to the 60s this week giving the food chain another bump and waking up the fish. Most put ins and takeouts are open and the ice has cleared off most sections of most rivers.

Big Changes on the Madison this year the whole river is staying open all year. This makes options limitless. Wade fishing up river between Hebgan reservoir and Quake lake has been good as the rainbows are coming up to spawn and rainbow populations in this area have soared. The wade section between slide inn and Lyons bridge has also been good. Water is still cold so look for the time of day with the slightly warmer water temps usually 1:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon.

A few boats have been putting in up high at Lyons bridge. My buddy Charlie floated Lyons to ruby creek the other day and had good fishing on Girdle bugs for the second half “Morning was cold, fishing was weak” Most of the angler action has been going on below Varny bridge with the colder water temps it is more effective to find some slower water and get out and pound with nymphs on the bottom. Vary has a lot of good get out and wade water. Fishing could get really good down below town at Valley Garden. This is the first time it has been open this time of year. I don’t know anybody that has fished there yet this year but it could be good considering that it is right above the lake and the rainbow are in the mood to move up river.

The ice is off the lake but he waters on the south end is very shallow very difficult to navigate I tried to take a drift boat out to the main channel the other day and failed there wasn’t enough water to float an empty drift boat. Anybody thinking of floating down the river into the lake could be in for a big surprise when they get there. We did find some fish at the north end in the deeper water as usual a little black beggar pulled gently of the ice was the trick for us.

The Bear Trap Canyon has probably been fishing about the best. Warmer water temperatures have the midges and fish moving. Again, later in the afternoon, between the dam and power house. The fish are a little more aggressive down here so you can twitch a streamer and there are a few blue wing olives starting to show up opening the door to a little spring dry fly-fishing.

The stretch from Warm Springs down to Blacks Ford has been fishing well, with lots of drift boats, but good fishing on a brown buggar and a san juan worm. Get in early and stay ahead of the pack get out and wade the slow water.
Start Time:
11:00 AM
End Time:
2:00 PM
Fishing Water Report
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.
Reporting Outfitter
Welcome to Southwest Montana's finest fly fishing adventures. Blue ribbon trout water is literally steps away when you visit us in the picturesque town of Ennis, Montana. You may spend ... morethe day on our home river, the world famous Madison or drive to one of our other local rivers such as the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby or the Jefferson. Whether you are a new angler or an old pro we have the expertise and patience to make your time on the water chasing wild trout a success.
Reported Trip
  • Full-day of professionally guided fly fishing for up to two anglers
  • Lunch, drinks, and snacks
  • Flies and other needed gear
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.
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Find out about the latest fishing action with our Madison River Fishing Report
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77 acres
4,938 ft
Boating, Fishing, Camping, Picnicking, Hunting
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Fire Ring, Picnic Table
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Drinking Water, Toilet
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