Madison River Fishing Report

Catching trout on the Madison River

July 11, 2024

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.


Salmonflies are mostly done, but other insects are prolific. Hot weather continues and Hoot Owl restrictions are now in place. Fishing remains good.

Ennis, Montana Weather

Hot. We are in the midst of a lengthy heat wave with temperatures in the high-80s to mid-90s.

Madison River Flows

Great flows as Northwestern Energy releases water more water to help with the hot weather. The river flowing at a very fishy 1,550 CFS mid river.

Water Level Graph for USGS Station 06038800

Madison River Hatches

Salmonflies are sparse up river, but still around way up high for not much longer. Golden stoneflies and nocturnal stoneflies have taken there place. A wide variety of mayflies and caddis are coming off throughout the day, sometimes thick. Flying ants have become very active and it's not long at all until they are looking at grasshoppers.

Fishing Techniques

Nymphing remains the most productive method for catching whitefish and trout. The Prince Nymph in various colors and sizes has been unbeatable. Small beads and your typical caddis nymphs have also been good. Oh, this fly called the Girdle Bug is also fishing well. No news there! Streamer fishing is hit-or-miss throughout the day. There have been some great stretches though using the local favorite color combo of olive and white. There are lots of fish holding in shallow water right now which makes it quite fun. Dry fly fishing is still good, but you need to cycle through the various insects on offer before settling of the best option. The fish seem to change their minds throughout the day. The Elk Hair Caddis is a great go-to. Various sizes of Parachute Adams in purple or olive are also working well. Chubbies and Water Walkers work, but you have to get them presented in the correct water, which also seems to change day to day. Don't overlook the middle of the river!

  • Brandon's Prince Nymph
  • Blowtorch
  • Spankers
  • Hare's Ear
  • Girdle Bug
Dry Flies
  • Tan, yellow, green & royal Chubbies
  • Flying Ants
  • Elk Hair Caddis
  • Stimulators
  • Parachute Adams
  • Rusty Spinner
  • Teasers
  • Olive and White
  • White
  • Sparkley
Picture of Montana angler with madison river flies

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
Madison River fly shop at MVR

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.

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