THE UPPER MADISON River:
Hooked Outfitting is based on the Upper Madison River near Ennis, Montana. Our guides are all experts on the Madison river and it is one of the most consistent producers in the area. The upper Madison usually fishes well from the first warm days of spring in April until the colder days of fall near the end of October. The Madison is known as the “ninety mile riffle” because of its' shallow, quick flowing, water. This river moves quick and there is always something new to cast at with fishy water from bank to bank. The quick currents of the Madison give fish little time to inspect fly presentations as they drift by, which makes the upper Madison a very forgiving river for beginners to perfect their fly fishing abilities.
Our favorite times on the Madison are before and after runoff. The timing of Madison river runoff typically depends on snow pack levels and warming spring weather but the runoff usually comes some time during the first 3 weeks of June. After runoff the Madison experiences a huge variety of insect hatches. Salmon flies and caddis are the first post runoff bugs to hatch on the Madison. As the salmon flies move up river, golden stone flies are followed by PMDs, yellow sallies and more caddis. The last week of June to the last week of July is a great month on the Madison. There are lots of hatches, plenty of water and usually a pretty darn impressive trout bite!
The upper Madison river flows through the town of Ennis, Montana. Ennis is the place to stay if you are planning to fish the Madison and its central location puts you in position to fish other rivers like the Jefferson, Ruby, Yellowstone, Gallatin and Land of the Giants. Only 850 people live in Ennis but the town has plenty of lodging options, five bars and some good restaurants. Often described as "where fly fisherman meets cowboy" you will likely find Ennis a comfortable, interesting and uniquely Montana place to stay and fish.
The LOWER MADISON River:
The lower Madison refers to the section of Madison river that flows north from Ennis lake. The river flows from the dam at Ennis Lake through a 12 mile section of wilderness called the Bear Trap Canyon. We fish the Lower Madison river from just downstream of the bear trap wilderness to the Madison’s confluence with the Missouri River near Three Forks Montana. Below the Canyon, the Madison drastically changes character in its' lower stretches. Boulder-filled rocky riffles give way to softer currents and finer gravel covered with large beds of moss. Hatches and fishing are still very good in this stretch but it is less productive in the heat of the summer as the water temperatures can rise to the point that fish activity slows.
This stretch of river fishes well from April to just after the runoff around the end of June. We give the fish down here a rest during the summer heat and don’t begin to fish it again until the water temperatures drop in early September. Just after the water temperatures drop down to a fishable level in September is a great time to fish the lower Madison. The fish are usually still eating grass hoppers and they have been harassed very little over the course of the summer, which makes them the best kind of fish…dumb.