Thank you for checking out our most recent upper Madison River fishing report. It is our goal to keep this page updated on a regular basis to serve as a resource for those of you planning your visit to Montana. Please refer to the information below consisting of fishing techniques, fly patterns, Madison River flows and the weather in Ennis, Montana. We encourage you to give us a call for more information not detailed in our fishing report.
Spring in Montana is here with considerably warmer temperatures and windy conditions lately. Fishing remains excellent as it usually is this time of the year. Wade fishing offers the best opportunity for anglers, though it sure is nice to float the river right now. BWOs, midges and skwalla stoneflies are the ticket. Look for calm overcast days for the best dry fly fishing.
It's snowy and cold out there this morning. This system should be short lived we'll slowly warm back up over the course of this week. Pesky north winds continue to keep the region cool and can be problematic for fishing, so look out.
Flows on the upper Madison river remain low, but there is plenty of water out there. Just keep your head up because there are some rocks out there that normally don't pose a threat to the fiberglass!
#18-20 BWO or midge patterns are working when fish are poking their heads up. Small #12-16 chubby patterns in dark colors will suffice for skwallas. Nymph wise, don't think too hard about it. Girdle bugs should be in heavy rotation. A #8 is a great size right now. You can trail that with a variety of small flashy nymphs or just another girdle bug. Eggs and worms should work too.
Lots of BWOs coming off over the weekend when the conditions aligned. Expect the midges to be with them. Reynolds Pass to Pine Butte is your best bet for fishing the small dries in the slick water. Skwallas on the Madison River are nothing like they are on the rivers to the north, but if you know where to go and how to fish them it can be a fun way to trigger some aggressive takes. Below Varney Bridge is your best bet for finding these elusive stoneflies.
To simplify things, you can expect Madison River trout to eat just about every classic trout pattern ever tied depending on the time of year. Known for prolific stonefly, caddis, mayfly and midge hatches, the trout of the Madison aren't as picky as other rivers. If you get the size and color right, chances are they'll eat it so long as you have the correct presentation. Certainly there are some local secrets, but if you stock up on the basics you should be just fine!
A 5 or 6 WT fly rod is ideal for most fly fishing situations on the Madison River. The Madison Valley can be a breezy place and with such a wide river it can help to have a little extra power in your cast. We tend to prefer fast action fly rods for this reason. Your fly line is arguably more important than your fly rod though. Half size heavy weight forward floating lines are the ideal compliment to a modern fast action rod.
A slow action 3-5 WT certainly has its time and place on this river, especially during the caddis, midge and BWO hatches. 7 WT rods are commonly fished with short sink-tip fly lines and big streamers. They also come in handy during the salmonfly hatch when you're casting a 3" long foam body dry fly.
Breathable waders and sturdy boots are often a necessity during the spring and fall months. Your best soles for traction are felt with carbide tipped studs. Be aware that many Madison River fly fishing guides do not allow studs in their boats. It is rare that waders are required between June 15-September 15. During these months, some lightweight boots or water shoes/sandals are preferred.
Above all else, quality clothing and accessories for all types of weather are essential for staying comfortable during the day. Montana can throw just about any type of weather your way so be prepared with a well thought out layering system to handle the often cold mornings and warm afternoons.