Spring Fishing Report on the Madison River

Monday, 17 Apr, 2017
Water Clarity
Angler Traffic
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 a 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!
Start Time:
9:00 AM
End Time:
4:00 AM
Blue Winged Oliveundefined
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
Hooked Outfitting is a Montana fly fishing outfitter based on the Madison River in Ennis, Montana. We offer fly fishing float trips and all inclusive customized lodging and dining ... morepackages. Our waters include: the Madison River, Missouri River, Yellowstone River, Gallatin River, Jefferson River, Ruby River, Ennis Lake and many more. We pride ourselves on enthusiasm, professionalism, a good work ethic and doing everything that we can to put anglers of all levels in a position to succeed. www.hookedoutfitting.com
Reported Trip
  • Rods and Reels
  • Lunch
  • Non-alcoholic Drinks. Typically Coke, Diet Coke and Water.
  • Transportation from Ennis, Montana to the River
  • Flies and Tackle
  • Guide and Instruction
A full day float trip on the Madison River. This trip meets in Ennis, Montana near the Madison. The guide will meet you in Ennis and provide transportation for the short drive to the ... moreriver. At the boat ramp guides will provide instruction on the days fishing tecniques and launch a drift boat for the float. For those who have never fly fished, the guide can quickly teach the basics and get you to a the point that you will be able to enjoy the fishing and catch fish. The guide will provide all the flies and tackle that you need for the day. All you really need to bring is a Montana Fishing license, appropriate clothing and sunglasses for eye protection. The fishing involves floating down the river and casting flies from the boat. Floats are typically around 7 hours of floating but can vary depending on the preference of the customer. All of the fishing is usually done from the boat, which makes wearing waders optional and not at all nessesary. At mid day you will take a break on the bank and enjoy lunch provided by your guide. The fishing on the Madison is fast paced with lots fresh spots to cast into and typically great action for rainbow and brown trout. The Madison is one on the most consistantly productive rivers that we fish and it typically will fish well from mid April through Mid October. Late June through September are considered the peak season. Trout typically range from 10-20 inches with fish over 20 inches possible. Fish in the 14-17 inch range are normal and the bigger fish of the day typically range from 18-20 inches. The river flows through the scenic Madison valley with the Madison mountain range always in view.
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