Montana & Yellowstone National Park
Perhaps the most prominent fishing destination in the area, the Madison River is also one of the most diverse fisheries in the western US, with multiple sections split based on geography and topography. The Madison is born in Yellowstone Park at the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers. From there, the Madison winds its way downstream through one of the prettiest valleys on earth before exiting the Park near West Yellowstone. Shortly downstream of the Park boundary, the river is consumed by Hebgen Lake, a large reservoir. A short section of river known locally as “Between the Lakes” flows from Hebgen Dam to the mouth of Earthquake Lake, formed by a massive landslide that dammed the river after a large earthquake shocked the region in August of 1959.
When the Madison eventually spills out of Earthquake Lake and tumbles down “The Slide”, it has taken on the legendary “freestone tailwater” characteristic that has helped make it a world famous trout river. Farther down the valley, below the town of Ennis, the river is consumed by Ennis Lake, another reservoir. Downstream of Ennis Dam, the river flows through the Beartrap Canyon before emerging into the broad valley and lower reaches on its way to join the Gallatin and Jefferson Rivers near the town of Three Forks.
THE PARK – MADISON JUNCTION TO HEBGEN LAKE
BETWEEN THE LAKES – HEBGEN DAM TO EARTHQUAKE LAKE
THE UPPER MADISON – EARTHQUAKE LAKE OUTLET TO ENNIS LAKE
Mid-June through October is usually a very consistent time to fish this section of the Madison. We focus most of our effort here due to its consistency. It can be advantageous to fish the river from both a boat as well as on foot depending on the time of year and section of river. The Madison sees one of the largest hatches of Hydrosyche and Glossoma Caddis in the area. Good caddis fishing can start in early July and last through Mid-August. Productive days in early and late season are much more weather dependent but can be very rewarding. We fish this stretch of the Madison more than any other river in the area due to the different type’s water available to fish as well as the excellent average fish size.
THE LOWER MADISON – ENNIS DAM TO MISSOURI RIVER HEADWATERS
Below Beartrap Canyon, there is excellent river access for floating and wading anglers along the highway. When the river again departs the highway in its lowest reaches it becomes more remote again and not fished as often. This remoteness and the interesting valley geography and braided nature of the channel gives a unique feel to the river. Though overall fish numbers are lower than in the upper Madison, some large browns are taken down here.