Madison River Fishing Report

Catching trout on the Madison River

October 13, 2021

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.

Overview

Winter showed its full force the past couple of days with big snow and cold temperatures. Fishing should pick up slowly as we head back into fall conditions. Expect good things out of the Madison River in the coming days, particular in the beats and streamer department.

Ennis, Montana Weather

The entire valley filled in with snow over the weekend. Temperatures dropped significantly along with a stiff north wind. We're supposed to rebound back into the 50s over the course of the week. The long-range forecast looks great with cool, but comfortable temperatures through next week.

Madison River Flows

Low. Boney. But still just fine for floating and fish health. Bigger boats have a tougher time between Storey and Town compared to rafts.

Water Level Graph for USGS Station 06038800

Madison River Hatches

Expect the mayflies to come off well on overcast days, especially when it's calm. A #18 Parachute Adams is about all you need in olive, gray or purple. A little sparkle in the body may help in brighter conditions. Streamer fishing is on using various colors. Olive/white, black/olive, olive and sparse yellow are will work in one form or the other. A slow, twitchy presentation is ideal in the morning but consider speeding it up in the afternoon once the water warms up.

Fishing Techniques

Expect the mayflies to come off well on overcast days, especially when it's calm. A #18 Parachute Adams is about all you need in olive, gray or purple. A little sparkle in the body may help in brighter conditions. Streamer fishing is on using various colors. Olive/white, black/olive, olive and sparse yellow are will work in one form or the other. A slow, twitchy presentation is ideal in the morning but consider speeding it up in the afternoon once the water warms up. Eggs and worms are also on the menu. Spawning brown trout can be found throughout the system right now. Don't over look large girdle bugs either as salmonfly nymphs are quite active this time of the year.

Nymphs
  • FKA Prince
  • Lil Spankers
  • Lightning Bugs
  • Girdle bugs
  • Worms
  • Globugs
Dry Flies
  • Griffith's Gnat
  • Purple Haze
  • Parachute Blue Wing Olive
Streamers
  • Olive/White
  • Black/Olive
  • Crystal buggers

Madison River Flies (Year-Round)

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!

Nymphs
  • Prince Nymph (#10-18)
  • Lightning Bugs (#12-18)
  • Hare's Ear (#12-18
  • Pat's Rubberlegs (#4-12)
  • Serendipity (#16-20)
  • Copper John (#12-18)
  • Worms & Eggs
Dry Flies
  • Parachute Adams (#12-18)
  • Elk Hair Caddis (#12-16)
  • Stimulators (#6-12)
  • Water Walkers (#6-12)
  • Griffith's Gnat (#18-20)
  • Comparaduns (#14-18)
  • Hoppers & Ants
Streamers
  • Wooly Buggers (#2-8)
  • Zonkers
  • Bow River Bugger
  • Sheila Sculpin
  • Trevor's Sculpin
  • Sparkle Minnows
  • Dali Lama
Picture of Montana angler with madison river flies

Madison River Fishing Gear

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.

Madison River fly shop at MVR
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