Madison River Fishing Report

Catching trout on the Madison River

August 8, 2022

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.


Great conditions and fishing continue with a classic summer upon us. Warm and sunny days offer a great opportunity at fishing terrestrial patterns. The streamer bite has been excellent at times as brown trout forage on first year rainbows. Nymphing is always good, but the worm bite is particularly productive.

Ennis, Montana Weather

Warm and dry for the most part aside from some afternoon thunderstorms at the end of the week. Smoke has been relatively nonexistent so far which is very nice.

Madison River Flows

Flows have come down a bit over the last few days, but they are still excellent at 1500 CFS. Water temperatures are warmest near town. Hoot Owl in effect from 8 Mile to Ennis Lake means you need to stop fishing down there at 2PM each day.

Water Level Graph for USGS Station 06038800

Madison River Hatches

Bug activity has slowed as we expect in August. Some sparse caddis still with hoppers are becoming active in the afternoon on sunny days. The nocturnal stoneflies are coming off giving you a shot at fishing big flies.

Fishing Techniques

Streamer fishing has been excellent with the bump in flows and overcast conditions. Trail a nymph behind it with a slight drag in the presentation for consistent action using white, black and/or olive patterns. Girdle bug fishing has also been very good lately. A medium sized olive followed by a tiny coffee rubberlegs has been lights out at times. Prince nymphs, lightning bugs, spankers, frenchies and worms have been productive as well. Hopper fishing has been good when the conditions are bright and sunny. You can fish a larger stonefly pattern for the nocturnal. Don't overlook the middle of the river right now!

  • Girdle bugs
  • Prince nymphs
  • Perdigons
  • Lightning bugs
  • Small mayfly beads
Dry Flies
  • Goldenstones
  • Chubbies
  • Nocturnal stoneflies
  • Hoppers
  • Ants
  • Royal Wulff
  • Trudes
  • Olive/White
  • Black/Olive
  • Sparkle minnow

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!

  • 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
  • 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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