Where to Fly Fish When it's Windy in Ennis Montana

Fly Fishing, Planning
Added Date:
Monday, 16 Nov, 2015
Everyone familiar with the Madison valley knows it is no stranger to gale force winds. At some point it becomes no fun for even the most ardent fly fisher when the line fails to turn over, line starts pooling, flys come at your face with the speed of a bullet, and your leader resembles a bird’s nest more than something to catch fish with.

Everyone familiar with the Madison valley knows it is no stranger to gale force winds. At some point it becomes no fun for even the most ardent fly fisher when the line fails to turn over, line starts pooling, flys come at your face with the speed of a bullet, and your leader resembles a bird’s nest more than something to catch fish with. When your time on the water is limited however, the question arises about what to do on these days when the wind blows like a banshee. I usually have three locations I head for depending on wind direction. 

Fly Fishing at the Palisades

For winds out of the west I consider the palisades. Winds come across the ridge of the palisades and with the river nestled right up to its rocks there is a fair chance that I’ll find some spots that get me out of the wind or at least into some fishable wind speeds. Make sure to check water flows and consider a wading staff.

Read More Top Fly Fishing Bars in Ennis Montana

Getting Wind Cover Below Ennis Dam

For anything but a south wind I really enjoy the area below Ennis dam. The south end of the bear trap canyon is narrow enough that many wind situations won’t be a problem. This is no secret, so be prepared to find other anglers down there. Luckily you can hike deep into the bear trap to get away from people. There are two major parking areas. Head down to just above the powerhouse and walk up. The Madison River down here is strewn with pocket water, riffles and boulders that resemble trout motels. Caution, in at least 2 areas there are wires overhanging the river. Keep your cast clear and watch your back cast along the road. It’s easy to hit the embankment and if you’re fishing from shore, a roll cast or very high back cast is helpful. I like to move when I fish and hiking and wading up this stretch usually takes me about 3 to 4 hours. You’ll find caution signs along this stretch as water levels below the dam can change rapidly and without warning. I believe sirens and lights are in place, but I’ve never seen them in action.

Read More Top 3 Hidden Fly Fishing Locations Near Ennis Montana

Burgers and Browns at Bear Trap Canyon

The third location takes you North of Ennis, Montana towards Norris. Norris consists of just a few houses, a post office and of course….a bar, that for many years has been owned by Steve and Carmen. Carmen cooks a mean chicken and Steve usually has jokes to tell. Mark the spot for a beer and a shot of something after getting off the water. In Norris hang a right towards Bozeman. To your right you’ll notice the Norris Hot Springs, also known as Water of the Gods. Mark this spot as an alternative on your way back. Starting at 7pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday you’ll find some great music from bluegrass to folk and country. Folks are friendly. You can rent a towel and order locally grown food, burgers and drinks. The hot springs resemble more like a swimming pool. It is wood lined with benches along the sides. Bring your swim shorts and enjoy the soothing and relaxing magic of the Water of the Gods hot springs.

Where to fish:

With two post-fishing locations in your pocket you can confidently proceed to the North end of bear trap canyon. You’ll pass Warm Springs take out and eventually the road will bend right and cross the river toward Bozeman. On the right hand side you’ll see a sign for the Bear Trap Canyon fishing access. The dirt road will take you back up-river on the other side of where highway 287 just came down. Take the road to the end where you’ll find a parking area and of course a convenient restroom. You’ll suit up here and hike up the river about a mile or so. Eventually you’ll get to where you can see the weed beds. There is grass leading right up to the river so access is pretty easy. Cast a grizzly bugger or a girdle bug across those weed beds and strip them pretty quick. There are monsters in these weeds and occasionally you’re lucky enough to catch a brown of your dreams. This area is a little more susceptible to wind, but still a far cry from getting blown about on the upper river.

Vegetation along the north end of the bear trap canyon sustained some damage during a fire just prior to the 4th of July a couple of years ago, but it is still a beautiful area. It’s easily fishable and convenient to move around in summer through fall.

Read More Fly Fishing Off the Beaten Path at Axolotl Lakes Near Ennis, Montana 

Have another location you go to when it's windy? Let us know!

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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
2 days - 3 days
This is our 2-3 day, personalized introduction to fly fishing. You will learn knots, fly selection, how to find where the fish are and soooo much more. Our guides have been fishing ... moreall of their lives, they know what they're doing and are excited to share that knowledge with you! We offer this on the water, individualized, class in two and three day sessions. Besides another great day of fishing in Montana, booking the three day intro will give you a chance to: ask more questions as you learn more and start knowing what questions to ask, see more of a variety of water and better learn to adjust your fishing to different situations, get a better understanding of bug life (entemology) and what part that plays in your fishing plans, as well as more intricate fishing knowledge from one of our professional and experienced guides. The rivers you learn this wonderful sport will be determined by the guide and where he/she thinks you will be most successful. However, if there is a certain river (i.e the Madison) you would like to spend some time on, let us know and we are happy to accommodate.
/ 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
1 day
Fishing Waters:
Ennis Lake full day float trip with lunch and flies provided. Enjoy a day on the water and reel in some fresh Montana trout. The Madison River flows into and out of Ennis Lake, and ... moreprovides the setting for your beautiful Montana day.
On the edge of the Town of Ennis, Montana, where the sweeping Madison River Valley opens wide, you’ll find the Rainbow Valley Lodge. Warm, welcoming hosts, Ed and Jeanne Williams, ... morewill make your visit to the Old West Town of Ennis, Montana a special one. Rainbow Valley Lodge provides welcoming accommodations at an affordable price.

Make the Rainbow Valley Lodge your fly fishing headquarter as you tackle our world-class trout. Get fishing tips in our O’Dell Creek Fly Shop located in the Lodge. The Lodge caters to fly fishing on the Madison River and O’Dell Spring Creek. Partnering with Riverborn Outfitters, we offer fly fishing vacation packages.

The private waters of the O'Dell Creek are available to the discerning flyfisher for a nominal rod fee and the lodge limits rods to 4 per day. This beautiful, clear flowing tributary to the Madison River in Ennis, Montana, is a challenging and technical fishery. Meandering through meadows, the stream is a series of riffles and pools. Fish sit tight to the banks, fly presentation is very important to caught these wary trout. The scenery surrounding O’Dell Spring Creek is nothing short of spectacular. To the East, the peaks of the Madison Mountain Range soar into the sky while the gently rolling Gravelly Mountains are to the west. Water temperature in the creek on summer days only reaches as high as 65 degrees.
Ennis Montana Premier Fly Fishing Outfitter and Fly Shop on the Madison River Trout Stalkers is a fly fishing outfitter that specializes in Montana and Madison River Fly Fishing Trips. ... moreWe are located in Downtown Ennis and just three blocks from some of the best fly fishing in Montana, on the Upper Madison River. Our fly shop is staffed with experienced and welcoming fly fishermen who enjoy sharing their knowledge.

Trout Stalkers fly shop and online store features a diverse collection of the finest fly fishing gear, clothing, fly fishing gifts, fly rods, reels, flies, rental gear, boats and accessories. Our carefully curated fly selection is focused on proven fly patterns for the Madison River and other major southwest Montana rivers.

We have a variety of watercrafts and rafts for rent and for sale, including inflatable rafts equipped with fishing frames, drift boats, kayaks and SUPs. We also have an ever-changing fleet of new and used rafts and drift boats for sale. Need a Madison River shuttle service? We can help with that too.

Our extensive knowledge of fly fishing the Madison River stems from many years and countless days spent “driftin’ and dreamin'" on this great river from top to bottom. We strive to make every visitor to Ennis, Montana feel comfortable and welcome in our fly shop. We want you to have a great Montana fly fishing experience and our top-notch, seasoned guide staff will work hard to make sure of it! Our motto at Trout Stalkers is simple: The first time you fish with us you're a client. The second time you're a friend!
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.

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