MADISON RIVER LODGE

MADISON RIVER LODGE

Enjoy an all-inclusive experience just steps away from the legendary Madison River.

The lodge is surrounded by protected public BLM lands that adjoin the Wall Creek Wildlife Management area which is home to abundant wildlife. You won’t have to worry about neighbors and can enjoy the private feel during your stay.

The legendary waters of Yellowstone Park are only one hour away and the trophy dry fly fisheries of Hebgen Lake are just 45 minutes upstream. A longer drive will land you on the Ruby, Jefferson, Gallatin or Missouri Rivers. This traditional style lodge has a classic look and warm feel with its warm wood accents and stone fireplaces. The huge back decks provide amazing views upstream along the river and surrounding mountains. The private setting, incredible access, and warm and inviting staff make this a truly special location.



Maps

Location

Introduction

The Madison River is one of the most diverse year-round fisheries in Montana. Perfect for anglers of all skill levels, and those who like to fish dry flies, streamers or nymphs. Great for the drift boat enthusiasts, wade anglers, or those who wish to do a blend of wade fishing and drift boat fishing all in one day.

The river structure and mountain terrain change dramatically throughout its course from Yellowstone National Park to the headwaters of the Missouri River near Three Forks, Montana.

Starting in Yellowstone National Park where the Firehole River and the Gibbon River come together at Madison Junction. From here the river calmly flows northwest past West Yellowstone, Montana, and into Hebgen Lake. Living in an internet driven world, the fall spawning run out of Hebgen Lake is not much of a secret anymore. Big browns and rainbows averaging 19 inches with the occasional 28-inch brown are caught each season. In the fall be ready for winter conditions where temperatures can drop below zero.

 

 

Location

One of the truly great features of the lodge is its location. Positioned midway on the famous 50 mile riffle section of the upper river. Our guests can put in or take out right at the lodge or make a short drive to the wade areas up river and down. Yellowstone National Park is just 45 minutes upstream with multiple legendary fisheries to access and several other rivers and exlusive private ranch fisheries can be targeted in the other direction downstream. The closest commercial airport is in Bozeman, about an hour from the lodge. Private aircrafts and charter flights can land about 15 minutes away at a smaller airport.

Accommodation

The lodge sits on the banks on the Madison River - the river literally wraps around the lodge in a huge bend! The huge river rock fireplaces and wood accents help to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Views from the massive decks are some of the best in Montana with the Madison River in the foreground and thousands of acres of protected BLM land and National Forest just beyond. The lodge has 5 guest rooms with a maximum occupancy of 10 anglers to preserve a warm and intimate atmosphere. The rooms each have 2 queen beds and a private bath. Each room also has a walk out deck that overlooks the river.

Amenities at the Lodge:

WIFI (note satellite internet, so good for emails but slow for other applications), landline for telephone, cell service is very limited (about 1-2 bars but texts arrive and some voice calls), all meals, beverages, Satellite TV in the common area, huge deck overlooking the river.

The cuisine

Enjoy culinary cuisine for each meal prepaid by a private chef starting with a fulfilling breakfast, then a sack lunch while on the river. After a memorable day of fishing arrive at the lodge to appetizers, wine and beer ready for your consumption, followed by dinner with a view overlooking the Madison River.

The fishing

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 Lake

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.

Quake Lake 

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.

Ennis Lake

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. 

Bighole River

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.

Jefferson River

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.

Ruby River

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. 

Missouri River

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. 

Gallatin River

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. 

Private Ranches

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.

Gear and equipment

If you are new to fly fishing just show up!  Rods, flies, leaders, tippet and waders are included on our guided trips at the lodge -

Clothing Suggestions
  • Polarized Sunglasses!!                                   
  • Rain Gear (Jacket & Pants)
  • Hat (sun & cool weather)                       
  • Sun Screen
  • Camera/Charger                                       
  • Gloves (spring/fall)
  • Layers of clothing (fleece, etc.)                       
  • Quick Dry Pants/Shirts        
  • Shoes/Sandals (for in boat)                               

Included

 


Extra cost:

Montana Fishing License:

If everyone could purchase a Montana fishing license before your arrival, that would be great!

Purchasing your fishing license in advance is highly recommended. Here is the link to buy Montana fishing licenses online https://app.mt.gov/als/index/index.html. If purchasing online, make sure you buy them for the days you will be fishing.

Any angler 12 years of age and older must have a Conservation License ($10-nonresident) plus a Fishing License ($25 for 2 consecutive days, $56 for 10 consecutive days or $86 for season-nonresident), plus an Angler AIS Prevention Pass (AISPP) ($7.50 for non-residents). No license is required for angler’s age 11 years and younger IF accompanied by an adult who holds a valid Montana fishing license.

Yellowstone National Park Fishing License:

Park fishing licenses can be purchased at Madison River Lodge if fishing in YNP. This is a carbon paper form and, unfortunately, is not available online yet.

Anglers 16 years and older can purchase a three-day ($18), seven-day ($25), or season ($40) permit at all ranger stations, visitor centers, and Yellowstone Park general stores. Permits are also available at Madison River Lodge. Anglers 15 years of age and younger may fish without a license when supervised by an adult or may obtain a free permit signed by a responsible adult to fish without direct adult supervision. No state fishing license is required in Yellowstone National Park.

 

Travelling here

From Bozeman Airport:

Total Trip – 88.0 miles (about 1 hour, 20 minutes)

NOTE – check-in time at the lodge is 3pm. From Bozeman Airport - Turn right onto Frontage Rd and drive through the small town of Belgrade. Turn Left on Jackrabbit lane at the stoplight. Take Jackrabbit Ln (HWY 85/191) south toward the area known as Four Corners (10 miles). Go right at the big intersection with 3 gas stations and stoplight onto HWY 84 West towards Norris and Ennis. Travel 28.8 miles to Norris. The highway comes to a stop at Norris, turn left here onto HWY 287 South. Travel 16.3 miles to the “T” stop in Ennis. Turn left and continue on HWY 287 through downtown Ennis and then 18.4 miles South of Ennis look for a right turn onto a well-graded gravel road shortly after the highways crosses the small bridge over Indian Creek. At the turn just after Indian Creek there are several signs including a large white sign for the Imerys talc mine “Yellowstone Operations”, a fishing access sign for “McAtee Bridge and a BLM sign for the Ruby Creek recreation area. After making the right turn drive .7 miles and cross the bridge over the Madison River and then take an immediate left onto Ruby Creek Road. Go 1.6 miles on Ruby Creek Road and then turn left at the Madison River Lodge sign. The lodge sign is a small real estate-sized sign but the lodge is the only private property on the west side of the river and you will see 3 structures and about 70 trees grouped along the river, it is the only driveway off of Ruby Creek Road as the rest of the land is BLM land. If you get to the Ruby Creek campground, you missed the lodge by 1 mile.

Check-in is at 3:00 pm.

From West Yellowstone, MT:

Total Trip – 56 miles (about 55 minutes)

NOTE – check-in time at the lodge is 3pm. From N. Canyon Street, take US-287 (also called US-191 and North Gallatin Road) north out of town. Follow US-287 about 8.2 miles to a junction where US-287 turns off to the left (heading west toward Hebgen Lake and Ennis) and follow US-287 for 47 miles (along Hebgen Lake and past Earthquake Lake and eventually along Madison River).  After 47 miles on 287 turn left onto a well-graded gravel road shortly after driving by the Beartooth fly shop. At the turn, there are several signs including a large white sign for the Imerys talc mine, a fishing access sign for “McAtee Bridge and a BLM sign for the Ruby Creek recreation area. After making the turn drive .7 miles and cross the bridge over the Madison River and then take an immediate left onto Ruby Creek Road. Go 1.6 miles on Ruby Creek Road and then turn left at the Madison River Lodge sign. The lodge sign is a small real estate-sized sign but the lodge is the only private property on the west side of the river and you will see 3 structures and about 70 trees grouped along the river, it is the only driveway off of Ruby Creek Road as the rest of the land is BLM land. If you get to the Ruby Creek campground you missed the lodge by 1 mile.

Check-in is at 3:00 pm.

From Ashton, ID:

Total trip - 84.5 miles (about 1 1/2 hrs)

Note Check-in time at the lodge is 3pm. Travel north on US-20 E for 41.7 miles. Turn left onto ID-87 N. Travel 17.7 miles. Turn Left onto US-287 N. Travel 22 miles. About a mile after passing the Beartooth Flyshop on the left turn left at the sign for the McAtee Fishing Access and Ruby Creek Recreation Area (also a white sign for Imerys talc mine). Drive .7 miles and cross the bridge over the Madison River and then take an immediate left onto Ruby Creek Road. Go 1.6 miles on Ruby Creek Road and then turn left at the Madison River Lodge sign. The lodge sign is a small real estate-sized sign but the lodge is the only private property on the west side of the river and you will see 3 structures and about 70 trees grouped along the river, it is the only driveway off of Ruby Creek Road as the rest of the land is BLM land. If you get to the Ruby Creek campground you missed the lodge by 1 mile.

Check-in is at 3:00 pm.

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