The Madison River forms as the FireHole and Gibbon Rivers come together in Yellowstone National Park. After exiting the park, The Upper Madison River flows through Hebgen Lake and into EarthQauke Lake, then pours out to form what is commonly referred to as "The Fifty Mile Riffle." This shallow, fast stretch of boulder dotted river is set against a backdrop of classic high Montana mountains and is home to some of the finest trout fly fishing in the West. From beginners to experts, fishing this area with a knowledgeable Madison River fly fishing guide can be a great experience! This is the kind of stream that offers something for every angler from the nymph rig fanatic to the dry fly aficionado and the streamer slinger chasing 20 inch plus browns!
Fly Fishing the Madison River
Classified as a "blue ribbon trout stream," the Upper Madison River is loaded with Rainbow and Brown Trout averaging in the 10-15" range with many fish well over 20". As one of the more famous rivers in the west, The Madison has everything that a fly fishing angler could want, including large boulders, shallow riffles, grassy banks and long deep runs. Excellent fishing can be had using practically any fly fishing method you choose with both dry and wet flies. At FishWater Outfitters, we offer float and walk wade fly fishing trips on the Madison from June through September.
Summertime Dry Fly Fishing
As the weather warms up and the snow melt subsides, the bugs begin to really start hatching and the dry fly fishing gets really good! The dry fly fishing on The Madison will continue throughout the summer and into the fall with consistent hatches of stoneflies, caddis, mayflies and midges that provide dry fly fishing opportunities for anglers of all experience levels. If you’re not familiar with the right equipment or flies to use, don't worry, your fly fishing guide will have everything you need for a great day on the water. (If you would like to get your own gear, be sure to stop by an Ennis, MT fly shop or just give us a call at FishWater Outfitters and we'd be happy to recommend all gear and flies to use on the Madison River.)
One of the most exciting dry fly times on the Madison is the annual Salmon Fly hatch. Depending on the runoff, the water conditions and timing of the hatch can vary from year to year, but we will typically start to see salmon flies around the 16-20th of June. If you are able to time it right and "catch the hatch," the action can be legendary and the experience of casting large dry flies to eager trout will create an unforgettable trip on the river.
As the Salmonfly Hatch tapers off, the Madison River will continue to produce some of the best dry fly fishing in the state. The Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies and Nocturnal Stoneflies will continue to satisfy your dry fly fishing desires, and the Caddis and Mayfly hatches will continue throughout the summer too! As we get into August and early September, grasshoppers will flood the grassy banks of the Madison River and flying ants will begin to show themselves in thick clouds above the river. This is a great time to cast large Hopper patterns and small Ant patterns throughout the banks, boulders and riffles of the Madison, eagerly awaiting a large trout to slowly sip your dry fly from the surface of the river.
Fall Streamer Fishing
Starting mid to late September as the air temperatures begin to cool and the signs of fall begin to show, anglers seeking large trout head to the Madison River to throw streamer patterns. Streamer flies imitating baitfish such as sculpin and other small trout or whitefish will be fished with many different stripping and twitching techniques often enticing strikes from the brag worthy brown trout that the Madison River is so well known for.
Experience the Best Fly Fishing the Madison has to Offer
Anglers can benefit from the many access points along the entire length of the Madison, and there are two stretches of the river that are restricted to wade fishing only. These are great places to spend a peaceful day exploring the endless riffles and plentiful trout. For the full Madison River experience, there's no better way to fish this iconic river than casting from the bow of a drift boat.
Captain Braden Powell, owner of FishWater Outfitters, offers guided walk wade and drift boat fly fishing trips on the Madison River from June through September. If you’re planning a trip and are looking to book with the best Madison River fly fishing guides and outfitters, schedule a trip with Capt. Powell today. He'll put you on the fish!