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Fly Fishing In Montana


Perhaps no other fly fishing area in the state of Montana garners as much attention as the Madison River.  Fortunately, the esteem is rightly deserved and the river has responded well to its unmatched popularity.  

In this part of the world the rivers run north with magnificent wild trout fishing that is world class. 

Formed by the confluence of the Gibbon and Firehole rivers in Yellowstone National Park, the Madison flows 126 miles through iconic western American scenery en route to Three Forks.  Here, it’s as easy to get lost gazing at the high peaks of the Madison Range as it is watching your caddis pattern bob atop the river.  Wildlife abounds along the river as well, giving you the opportunity to view Eagles, Bears, Antelope, Deer, Elk and Moose, along with other smaller river visitors like Canadian Geese, Ducks and smaller mammals. 


Anglers generally divide the Madison into two distinct reaches.  The upper section from Quake Lake to Ennis Lake is known as the “50 Mile Riffle”.  Full of healthy Rainbow and Brown Trout, the upper Madison is popular with drift boat anglers.  Banging the banks with streamers or running a nymph rig through likely holes will bring the occasional 20-inch fish to hand, but trout in the 14 to 16-inch range are most common.  Dry fly hatches on the upper Madison are frequent and often prolific. 


The lower Madison surges through Bear Trap Canyon below Ennis Lake, then works its way through pastoral ranchlands to its confluence with the Jefferson and Gallatin rivers at Three Forks.  The lower Madison passes through the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area and provides those anglers in the Bear Trap Canyon a true back-country fishing experience.  The Bear Trap National Recreation Trail is a nine mile route along the east bank of the Madison River and provides a great place to escape the crowds.


The first Blue-wing Olive Mayflies usually appear on the Madison in March.  Seek out cold, gray days for the best shot at this hatch.  Caddisflies are the next to join the fray, coming off in abundance during the Mother’s Day hatch in late April to early May.  Catching the hatch just right often depends on water clarity.  A delicate balance is reached as the bugs are hatching just before the spring snowmelt runoff hits and turns the water to a brown torrent for about three weeks in spring.


The Salmonfly hatch on the Madison, which typically arrives in the middle of June, is the stuff of fly fishing lore.  The big bugs crawl out of the water, emerge through their nymphal casings and buzz about the water in great numbers.  Keep your eyes on the bankside willows where the Salmonflies often perch during the heat of the day.  Cast your imitation beneath those willows and close to the banks to elicit rises.  It’s a matter of faith and patience.  Hitting the Salmonfly  hatch is more about luck and timing than it is about angling skill.


Once your day on the water is through, remember to join us at The Jeffers Inn for evening libations and snacks before you head out to the lively little town of Ennis for a a great dinner.  Dessert will be waiting for you upon your return to the Inn.  Our Roman Stone patio is a great place to end your Montana fishing adventure.  Relax with soft background music and the gentle sound of the Inn’s water-feature.


In Montana it’s all about the Madison River. 

It’s all about your personal journey. 

It’s the last best place. 

Come and enjoy it for yourself.

Madison River Quick Facts

River Miles: 126 miles from Yellowstone National Park boundary to Three Forks

Best Hatch: While the Mother’s Day Caddis and Salmonfly hatches get all the fanfare, the Baetis hatch in March and April might be the best dry fly fishing the river has to offer.

Mid-Summer Fishing:  The river bugs are ongoing throughout the Summer, from June to late September.  The Brown Trout in Ennis Lake are LARGE and offer a wading treat for those willing to walk along the Channels between Ennis and Ennis Lake. Guests at The Jeffers Inn have been photographed with 30 inch/8 pound Browns. .  It’s a thrill not to be missed! 

Why Stay With Us At ... THE JEFFERS INN ... Location, Location, Location!

The reason many of our guests at stay at The Jeffers Inn is the fact that we are located right in the heart of it all.  There are public fishing access points all along the Madison River, some within walking distance of the Inn.  With Fly Shops and all the fun of Ennis so close by, it’s easy to make the most of your vacation time.

Your fishing guide will pick you up at The Jeffers Inn's front door ... and deliver you back after your day on the Madison River.  If you are wading ... the access points are very close by the Inn, with day-use areas where non-fishing family members can meet you for that perfect riveride lunch.

Plenty of other waters are accessible from The Jeffers Inn.  The Firehole, Yellowstone, Gallatin, Beaverhead, Jefferson, Big Hole and Ruby rivers are all within our “Golden Ring”.  Ennis, Hebgen and Quake lakes are also lake fishing supreme!!  Try Ennis area mountain lakes, they will give you a thrill with little fish that put up a good fight.  Fabled O’Dell Creek requires a reserve permit for a pure spring water Montana fly fishing adventure.  Let us help you find just the right fishing guide … they are worth every penny you pay them.

Even if you have never cast a fly, the local outfitters and guides will give you an unforgettable day on the rivers.

We can go on and on about the fishing in Montana, so to make life easy for you below are many links you will find helpful.

Fly Fishing Links

The Madison is frequently rated the number one fly fishing river in North America. With an incredible trout density, fish over 30", diverse water, and spectacular scenery it is no surprise why this river has captured the imagination of the world's greatest fly fisherman. The Madison is a very consistent fishery and produces great action from April to October

FishWaters Outfitters

Montana Trout Stalkers - Ennis Montana's Best Guides

Trout Stalker Guides We Love!!!
Parker Redmond: 406-660-2933

Hooked Outfitters

Madison River Fly Fishing Report

Madison River Guides

Thompson’s Angling Adventures

Madison River Fishing Company

The Tackle Shop

Montana Angler

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Ennis National Fish hatchery

USGS Water Flow - Madison River

Montana Snow Pack Information

Madison River Foundation

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