Montana Angler guides the legendary Madison River from its headwaters in Yellowstone Park to its mouth at the formation of the Missouri river in Three Forks. Few other rivers in Montana change in character from top to bottom like the Madison and each section has its own personality. The lodge is located in the dead center of the varied river sections and is directly on the most consistent portion of the river with the highest trout densities. Fishing out of the lodge also extends far beyond the Madison River. Yellowstone Park is just upstream with numerous famous waters within. There are three trophy lakes (Hebgen, Quake and Ennis Lakes) with huge wild trout that offer technical dry fly fishing within a stones throw. Small mountain streams like the West Fork of the Madison, Grayling Creek, South Fork of the Madison and several others are also close by. We can also make trips to the Jefferson, Missouri, Ruby and Yellowstone Rivers to add even more variety. The Madison River is one of the most consistent in all of Montana. It fishes well in both high water years and drought years and with trout densities at over 5,000 trout per mile near the lodge there are plenty of big wild browns and rainbows to keep every angler happy.
Madison River in Yellowstone Park
Most of the upper river above Hebgen Lake is within Yellowstone National Park. The river here varies in character with both shallow riffles and large deep pools. The hydrothermal action of the Firehole drainage warms this section up in July and August, but the spring and fall fishing can be exceptional. It is especially worth fishing in the fall when huge browns run into the Park from Hebgen Lake. The salmonfly hatch comes off in mid June in the park and can also produce great fishing.
Hebgen is a large reservoir located just outside of Yellowstone Park and about 20 minutes upstream of the lodge. It is famous for its "gulper" fishing when large rainbows and browns in the 18-25" class aggressively feed on the surface during the trico and callibaetis hatches in mid summer. Spring streamer fishing can also produce great results on Hebgen.
Madison River "Between the Lakes"
This short section is only a few miles long and is wade only. It is a tailwater and the upper portion always runs clear below Hebgen. Trout numbers are high and hatches can be prolific. Some huge trout also make there way up from Quake at times as well. A 31" brown was recently caught in this stretch.
Just upstream from the lodge is another gorgeous smaller lake. It was formed when an earthquake caused a huge landslide and damned the river. Huge browns patrol the lake and streamer fishing can sometimes produce great results. The gulper dry fly fishing on Quake can also be solid in late July and August. A large brown recently washed out dead that would have been the state record.
Madison River - Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge
This stretch offers the highest trout concentrations on the entire river with strong hatches and outstanding holding water. It is also regulated for wade fishing only which keeps the float traffic to a minimum (boats are permitted but you must get out to fish). We often use boats on a few different stretches here to hop from run to run on guided trips. This section fishes well from late May to October.
Madison River - Lyons Bridge to Ennis "the 50 mile riffle"
The "float fishing" section of the Upper Madison begins at Lyons Bridge. The next 50 miles contain some of the most storied trout water in the west and a classic drift boat trip with our seasoned guides here is a great way to experience it. It fishes well from May to October.
Madison - Ennis to Ennis Lake "the Channels"
This is another wade only area. The river here braids into multiple channels that change from year to year. It can produce outstanding fishing just after run-off or earlier in the day later in the summer (water temps can get warm after lunch). Fall is another nice window here.
This shallow but productive lake is best fished in August during the callibaetis hatch when large rainbows and browns come to the surface to aggressively "gulp" the mayflies.
Bear Trap Canyon of the Madison
This remote wilderness area is home to rugged scenery and some major white water. The salmonfly hatch in Bear Trap can be intense and it fishes very well early in the summer and again in the fall. Early mornings in the summer can also be productive.
Lower Madison River
From the exit of Bear Trap Canyon to the rivers mouth at Three Forks the river broadens and huge weedbeds produce excellent habitat for aquatic insects. Some huge trout reside in this section. It is a great spring and fall fishery. Mid summer water temperatures prevent good fishing on most years in July and August but is a favorite of ours in April-June and September and October.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is home to several world famous trout fisheries including the Firehole, Gibbon, Upper Yellowstone, Gardiner, Lamar, Soda Butte, and Slough Creek to name just a few. The fishing in Yellowstone is wade fishing only by regulation. Yellowstone Park is only 40 minutes from the lodge is often well worth a visit.
The Bighole is a productive and scenic option. It is a little over an hour from the lodge but can add for some nice variety when it is fishing well. The Bighole is smaller than the Madison but still large enough to float fish. It can offer terrific dry fly fishing during hatches or terrestrial season.
This large river has lower trout counts than the Madison and gets low and warm in the summer. It does hold some very nice trout and is a great place to enjoy a secluded float with the hopes of catching a few quality trout. It is best fished in the early summer and fall.
This small but productive wade fishing river holds some surprisingly large trout. It is the perfect size: easy to wade but large enough to hold good fish. Strong hatches of midges, pale morning duns, yellow sally stones and baetis mayflies can produce great action at in the spring, early summer and fall.
We mostly fish the Upper Missouri from the lodge. This section is best targeted in September and October when water temperatures are just right for some very large trout. This water is a place to swing from the fences with the hopes of hitting one or two monster trout in a days fishing.
The Gallatin is a smaller river that offers nice wade fishing and also some float fishing near its mouth. It is about an hour from the lodge. If you have an early flight we can often arrange to pick you up and fish the Gallatin before driving to the lodge in time for dinner.
Montana Angler leases several ranches and has permission on a few others within an hour drive of the lodge that offer intimate and lightly pressured fishing opportunities on small but productive wading streams and a few trophy stillwaters.