Fly Fishing,    Perfect Fishing Days

Sometimes You Just Have to Go Fishing

By Eric Shores 2/26/2016 5 minutes

There I was, skiing behind the house with my wife Anni and my friend Shawn. We were at Kattle Guard Bowl, our own private ski-run, up South Meadow Creek. You have to walk to the top of the run but once you get there it’s never crowded. By the time we started our second run, the temperature had risen to well above freezing and the ski conditions quickly turned.

The Call of the Wild

As we struggled down the hill and back to the car, it suddenly dawned on me. Quit fighting it. Sometimes you just have to go fishing. There it was, the first sign of spring spawning a deep desire to catch a fish. Thoughts of fresh blown powder were instantly replaced by visions of 20-inch rainbows viciously slashing small wooly buggers near the surface. Wow! I really love when that happens!

So where do you go when you really need to catch a big fish? Well for me it’s my back yard. Ennis Lake! There are several fresh water springs seeping out of the bluff near where I live, but in warmer weather about a 20-foot stretch of the Ennis remains open.

Read More Top Locations for a Couple Hours of Fishing in Ennis

I figured what the heck. It’s close to home, a low energy investment. We might as well give it a try. The three of us loaded up the dogs along with all our ski equipment, and raced home for a complete retooling. Since it had been a while since we last fished, it took some time to change gear, but we accomplished it.

As we approached the shore, a pair of swans voiced their displeasure at our arrival, hoping we might leave. There was no way that was happening since I was certain I’d seen a wake in the water.

A Lesson in Patience

Presence confirmed, Shawn’s rod doubled over on his second cast as he reeled in a nice, 16-inch rainbow. Five casts later it was Anni’s turn - she landed another nice bow. Thirty minutes into it Shawn had net 5 and Anni 3, whileI still hadn’t had a strike.


Really? Me? I thought I was a fishing genius. Oh well, I had to swallow my pride and go beg for the right fly for this particular kind of day. Anni was throwing the size 12 bugger up onto the ice, then mending it off and letting it sink all the way into the mud before a super slow strip brought the fish in, bouncing off the bottom. Picky fish.

Read More Strategies for Winter Fly Fishing in Montana

If you didn’t precisely follow the recipe you wouldn’t get a strike. I proved it. Just goes to show. Sometimes you have to “crack the code” to get results. Once I got with the program I quickly landed 3 rainbows, including this 22-inch beauty. So don’t be afraid to listen to your gut. Sometimes you just have to go fishing.


Check out the Yobi Fishing Reports for Current Fishing Conditions in Montana

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.
/ Angler
2 - 8 anglers
3 days - 7 days
Experience the best of Montana fly fishing with our authentic all-inclusive packages at the T Lazy B Ranch. We fish some of the most famous Montana trout rivers including the Madison ... moreRiver, the Jefferson River, and the Yellowstone River.

Packages include:

3 night/2 day lodging, meals and 2 days of guided fishing

4 night/3 day lodging, meals and 3 days of guided fishing

5 night/4 day lodging, meals and 4 days of guided fishing

6 night/5 day lodging, meals and 5 days of guided fishing

7 night/6 day lodging, meals and 6 days of guided fishing

Pricing assumes double accupancy 
/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
1 day
With over 55 combined years of experience fishing the Montana rivers, we have the deep knowledge needed to guide you down this Blue Ribbon River. Located in Ennis, Montana, one of ... morethe top fly fishing towns in the world, Red Mountain Adventures is conveniently located to help you with your fishing experience on the Gallatin River.

Our guided float trips on the Gallatin River are perfect for novices to experts who gain from our deep knowledge and instruction on the Gallatin River. Book with us today and enjoy the best in Montana fly fishing.
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.


Eric Shores

Eric Shores has been guiding clients on Montana Rivers for over 32 years. He's as wily as any old brown trout when it comes to getting his clients on to fish and his stories will entertain you along the way. Many of our clients have become life long friends after a memorable day on the water with Eric.


Discover Your Own Fishing and Hunting Adventures

With top destinations, guided trips, outfitters and guides, and river reports, you have everything you need.