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If fly wranglers were gossips, the “Blue Ribbon” Madison River would likely be their primary object of attention. Arguably it’s the most talked over, written up and frequented river ... morein the entire state of Montana – and that’s saying something. What’s more, no one has anything bad to say about it and that’s for a good reason. There’s nothing bad to say. Its scenic journey begins in Yellowstone National Park at the convergence of the Gibbon and Firehole rivers and continues for 19 miles through parkland. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and sorry to disappoint, but it’s 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 the 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 Hegman 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 maintain relatively low water levels and provide 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.
On the Water Fishing Reports
Started Here Reports
Water is warming up but fishing is staying on track Eder still seeing good hatches all the way down from quake lake fishing is spotty 5 fish up on one bank then nothing for an hour. ... moreSalmonflies are all the way up near quake And have taken the crowds with them. Small dries in the morning have been producing some good fish and a lot of twinks. Small nymphs the same in the afternoon but with more whites. Seems like a good white population this year. Not much on the streamers yet Fish are still looking for bugs. Hoot owl restrictions in place on lower rivers. Fish on.
Fishing on the Madison River picked up last week as the water levels continued to fall. Water clarity has been good. The water coming out of Quake lake is a nice steelhead green. We ... morehave been seeing some big chocolate caddis, but not a whole lot has been happening on the surface. Two days ago we fished Ruby to Varney. Fishing was spotty but the fish quality was way up there. We got a 23” rainbow, four browns 18" to 20", and a smattering of 12" to 14". Admittedly we did go almost 3 hours without a strike.
That was a little hard to take, but when they finally started we had a really good two hours. Recent wave of hot weather has the immediate future in question. As a group we are undecided whether this 80-degree weather is going to blow the whole system out again? As of now water levels are starting to creep up again. Fished yesterday from Lyons bridge to Ruby Creek. The west fork has started showing color again so half the river was green half was greenish brown. Actually caught more fish in the dark side than the clear side, but in general fishing was not great. Good size but low numbers. We only got seven fish for a 9-mile float, one really nice 20 inch Brown and we went through every fly in the book. Madison river fish don't like rising water levels. I think we have one more bump which should last about a week then we should be in for a steady decline and some really good fishing Tight lines e
Lots and lots of rain the last week and already saturated ground means lots of water in our rivers. Fished yesterday from Lyons bridge to windy point. Short float but fishing wasn't ... morebad. Fished about three hours.with novice anglers put 6 fish in the boat had a few others on. West fork is pumping mud so that gave us a clear half (green) most of the way to windy point. Name of the game was as usuall big and black right on the bank. Helps to get out of the boat and pound. Rain is done for now rivers seem to be headed back down Could get good but this off color water is here to stay for a while. Tight lines. Eric
Fishing was good!! We put in at Lyons (only car there!) about 9:30 and floated to the Ruby Creek boat ramp (appr. 12 miles). I whacked a few with a girdle bug and prince under the ... morebobber so I ensured I didn't go scoreless then took the sticks and let Art chuck his 6 inch monster streamers. We saw a little movement here and there on the streamer but not many actual "eats." Then, it warmed up that 1 extra degree that made them put there mouth on it. We moved fish consistently all day after the first hour. Arts best streamer was a lighter green, white flash, heavy headed streamer fished on an ARC medium sink tip line, WITH 6.5 ft. of 1x to his fly. I fished a gold, crystal flash, cone head, bugger/streamer concoction of Arts and never took it off. Since it was a single hook streamer I did trail a bead head 16-18 inches behind the streamer and caught fish on that, also. I never changed the bugger but I did change the bead below a few times. Good 'ol sz.16, bead headed Pheasant tail was my best trailer nymph. I fished a 7 ft leader to 2x with two bb split shot (I should have just used a 3/0). Even though we had much different setups we caught fish in the same places with the same techniques. We would give it an initial mend to sink it, bring the line tight, then short strips/tip twitches. They didn't seem to want to chase too far or too fast. A good portion of our fish were caught in the slow to medium slow back eddy/slicks along the bank. We did move quite a few fish in the "pillow", just upstream of a rock and a few twitching streamers next to the rock. Some chases and short bites in the slicks below the rocks but no real consistent action there. I know that nymphing has been good in the middle but they had no love for the streamer out there.
Decent success on a black rubber legs in size 6 with either pink San Juan worm or black zebra midge under a bobber. Finding most fish in deeper slower buckets and runs. Putting enough ... moreweight on to "check in" with the bottom occasionally.
The streamer fishing has really started to shine in the afternoon. Starting to see some fish chase pretty well. Not super hot streamer fishing but good enough to keep fisherman engaged. I've been a fan of olive sparkle minnow size 6 and sex dungeons. Fishing them slower earlier in the day and faster as the water warms up.
Saw a few fish rising to midges through the afternoon. Fishing Griffith Gnats and size 18 parachute Adams. They don't seem to be super selective if you can find some actively rising.
It's pretty good out there definitely worth going so bring some warm clothes and go for it.
Cold start, were in the water by 9:30 should probably have been 11:00 Fishing definitly picked up in the afternoon black buggar was MVP for sure. Fish are lazy. Found them in the soft ... morewater on the banks and behind the deep boulders. Took along float covered a lot of water. Ended up with about fifteen fish, one beautiful hook jawed Brown trout that measured out at 19 in.
Floated the Madison River from Lyons Bridge. It was cool and a little windy and the maiden run for the new boat. We weren't trying that hard and still managed to land some 8 nice fish. ... moreWater was clear and there was no traffic on the river but us. Winter is back on the menu for the next week. Next few days are for skiing.