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Flyfishjh

Flies/Tackle for the Madison River, MT

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Hello everybody,

 

This is my first post on an online forum, and I'm looking for a few suggestions. The wife and I will be taking a trip to Montana to fish the Madison, and surrounding rivers in late spring/early summer this year. I live in Florida, and almost all of my flyfishing has been Warmwater/Saltwater, with VERY limited experience with freshwater trout. I consider myself to be an experienced flytyer, and an average flycaster. I already have a 6 wt. flyrod/reel combo with WF line. Can anybody out there recommend a good selection of flies for the Madison River/surrounding area that I should start tying, as well as any hints/tips on flyfishing for trout in that part of the country? I thank you all in advance for your responses, and will check back with the forum every day or so.

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Try Kelly Galloup's video. I just bought it and I'm sure you will find it very helpful.

 

Jim B

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Flyfish-

 

Welcome to the FTF, its a great forum with a lot of information thats free to share.

 

Which part of the Madison do you intend to fish? There is the Upper Madison and the Lower Madison. The Upper runs from Quake Lake down to Ennis Lake, and the Lower runs from Ennis Lake to Bozeman to meet up with the Gallatin River and forms the Missouri. I would suggest you fish the Upper, as my wife & I fished it near the end of last September, and averaged about 26 browns & rainbows per day.

 

Be aware that the snow melt isn't over till about the 1st of June, depending on the snow pack in the mountains.... after that the Madison is a great river to fish.

 

We fished with almost all nymphs, with very limited success with dries. With that said, we used the following nymphs: Lightning bug, bead head Shop Vac, Pheasant tails, Pat's rubber legs (aka Girdle bug), and gray rabbit zonker streamers.

 

You will need to hire a guide with a drift boat to work the Upper Madison, water is too swift to wade fish, and you cannot trespass on private property, or the land owners will have you arrested! The river itself is considered public. Public access is usually at the small bridges over the Madison with launching ramps for drift boats. Bring a camera to photo your fish, and you will see antelope, moose, deer, black bears, and elk. A valid MT fishing license is required: your guide will need to record the license number, and you will most likely be checked by a MT game warden at the boat ramps. Decent guys, but doing their job.

 

Best thing to do is contact the Madison River Fishing Company in Ennis, about flies and guides. They are great people and will set you up without any BS. Also, you can contact Greater Yellowstone Flyfishers in Bozeman, Rivers Edge in Bozeman, and Beartooth Fly Fishing in Cameron. All of these fly shops carry flies, fly tying materials, gear, and run a guide service. When you're there, make sure you stop in at Beartooth, worth the trip just to see the fly shop, you'll be amazed at the amount of flies, and fly tying goods they carry.

 

Good luck, and let us know how you do.

 

Bill

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Hares ear nymphs, with and without bead heads. Size 12 and 14.

Pheasant tail nymphs with and without bead heads. Same sizes.

 

Elk hair caddis size 14 and 16.

 

Brooks Stonefly nymphs size 4 in black. Heavily weighted. Same thing in size 6 and 8 in brown and golden tan.

 

Adult stonefly patterns in the same sizes. A selection of stimulators will be fine. Bodies should be tan, yellow and orange.

 

You said spring and early summer, which is Stonefly season on the Madison. Later in the summer, July through September, you will find Pale morning duns.

 

Midges hatch starting in early spring Feb and March and continue though the season (mostly in the evenings as it gets warmer. For midges, I use a simple thread midge larvae, and a Serendipity for a Pupa. Adult midge pattern that I like is the Griffith Gnat size 20 and smaller for these.

 

 

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You will need to hire a guide with a drift boat to work the Upper Madison, water is too swift to wade fish, and you cannot trespass on private property, or the land owners will have you arrested! The river itself is considered public. Public access is usually at the small bridges over the Madison with launching ramps for drift boats. Bring a camera to photo your fish, and you will see antelope, moose, deer, black bears, and elk. A valid MT fishing license is required: your guide will need to record the license number, and you will most likely be checked by a MT game warden at the boat ramps. Decent guys, but doing their job.

Getting a guide is a great way to learn the river and techniques, but I have to disagree with the "need a guide/drift boat to fish the Upper Madison" part. The upper madison above Lyons Bridge is dynamite wading. In fact, Fish & Game does not even allow fishing from drift boats in the stretch from Raynold's Bridge to Lyons Bridge. There is also ample public access in this 9 mile stretch. I really like the $3 Bridge area. This stretch usually fishes well, even during higher flows. If it is up and off-color, fish big rubberlegs and worms tight to the banks.

 

Also, the stretch of river between Hebgen and Quake lakes is clear all year and has great fishing. The West Fork of the Madison and some of its tributaries also fish quite well and are easy wading. Just have bear spray if you venture off the Madison itself...Grizzlies are around.

 

As for the private land issue, as long as you stay below the high water mark and access at the river at a legal access point, it is illegal for landowners to harass you regardless of whether they own the land or not. Contact the Fish and Game for more info on the stream access law.

 

The best advice I can give is to get a River Rat map of the river (riverratmaps.com). They are by far the best maps and show all of the access points as well as public and private land for the entire length of the river from Hebgen lake to the Missouri headwaters.

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Thank you all for the responses! It's nice to have such firsthand knowledge before departing, as it will make fine-tuning the trip that much easier, particularly the river access, and seasonal information. We may have to turn this into a summer/fall trip instead! I will be doing quite a bit more research before we make any final decisions, fortunately I have plenty of time. For now though, I will get to tying with the suggestions made thus far, and do a little more looking into the area. I will definately create a new post with the fishing report/photograph's when the trip is done. Thanks again, I will check the post again soon.

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I agree that you can wade fish the upper Madison but please be careful, especially during run off.

 

I use a 10 foot 5 wt GLX. I prefer a 5 wt over a 6 but I would go with the 6 wt. you have.

 

Get a copy of Fly Fishing the Madison by Craig Mathews and Gary LaFountaine. It has a hatch chart and flies for the river. Buy it and read it.

 

The Madison is primarily a caddis fly river. If there is one insect you must cover, it is caddis. Tie them first then mayflies and stoneflies last unless you are there during the stonefly hatch.

 

Must have patterns are the iris caddis, X-caddis and elk hair caddis. Tie your favorite caddis larva and pupa patterns in tans, olive, and brown. Tie some tabou caddis emergers.

 

There are golden stones, yellow sallies, and salmon flies in season mainly in July.

 

Mayflies are PMDs, Epeorus or pink lady, and BWO. Get the epeorus dubbing from Blue Ribbon flies. They have it matched. Tie rusty spinners in 14, 16, 18.

 

If you are going to fish Hebgen for gulpers tie up Callibaetis in 14 & 16 both dun and spinners.

 

Note that the definition of the high water mark is NOT where the water is. It is defined as where terrestrial vegetation begins. So if you are walking on grass, you are trespassing. Even if the water is above the bank, and you are in the water; if you are walking on grass under the water, you are trespassing. Know the law.

 

Generally, if the land is not posted you are OK. If the land is posted, do not venture on the land. The land owners around the Raynold's Pass bridge and $3 bridge are pretty accommodating. When you see them, smile and say hello, and ask them how their day is going.

 

 

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Here is the hatch chart for the general area:

 

YELLOWSTONEHATCH-1-_zps472297eb.jpg

 

From Blue Ribbon Flies...

 

Get on their mailing list for weekly updates.

 

In late May and early June, I like to work the Lower Madison , in the channels section around Ennis if the flows are not too high:

 

MIKEALLYMADCH-1--2_zps992aa58f.jpg

 

Where my kids are standing...have some of these in #12 - #14 to use at that time of year...with a chartreuse tag...

 

UV2BHRENEGADE-1-_zpsc1fa112e.jpg

 

UV 2 BH RENEGADE WET...TMC 5262, #6 - #16...thanks A&G !!!

 

http://www.danica.com/flytier/agbeatty/bh_renegade_wet.htm

 

...they work !!!

 

 

PT/TB

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Again, thanks for the information, planettrout: I will be adding that renegade to the list; SilverCreek: that book was ordered a week ago, and scheduled to arrive any day now!

 

Thanks again everybody for the information! I will check back again later...

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You will need to hire a guide with a drift boat to work the Upper Madison, water is too swift to wade fish, and you cannot trespass on private property, or the land owners will have you arrested! The river itself is considered public. Public access is usually at the small bridges over the Madison with launching ramps for drift boats. Bring a camera to photo your fish, and you will see antelope, moose, deer, black bears, and elk. A valid MT fishing license is required: your guide will need to record the license number, and you will most likely be checked by a MT game warden at the boat ramps. Decent guys, but doing their job.

Getting a guide is a great way to learn the river and techniques, but I have to disagree with the "need a guide/drift boat to fish the Upper Madison" part. The upper madison above Lyons Bridge is dynamite wading. In fact, Fish & Game does not even allow fishing from drift boats in the stretch from Raynold's Bridge to Lyons Bridge. There is also ample public access in this 9 mile stretch. I really like the $3 Bridge area. This stretch usually fishes well, even during higher flows. If it is up and off-color, fish big rubberlegs and worms tight to the banks.

 

Also, the stretch of river between Hebgen and Quake lakes is clear all year and has great fishing. The West Fork of the Madison and some of its tributaries also fish quite well and are easy wading. Just have bear spray if you venture off the Madison itself...Grizzlies are around.

 

As for the private land issue, as long as you stay below the high water mark and access at the river at a legal access point, it is illegal for landowners to harass you regardless of whether they own the land or not. Contact the Fish and Game for more info on the stream access law.

 

The best advice I can give is to get a River Rat map of the river (riverratmaps.com). They are by far the best maps and show all of the access points as well as public and private land for the entire length of the river from Hebgen lake to the Missouri headwaters.

I agree, I stay at Slide Inn every summer, never needed a guide, but out of a guide boat would certainly be a great way to fish the Madison many do it below Lyons. I spend most of my time fishing the Madison between Slide, and Raynolds , and between Raynolds ,and Three Dollar. All that area is the wade section, there are no boats, well actually you can float it ,but you can't fish from the boat.

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When you are coming so far you may want to check out the waters in and just outside Beaverhead County far SW Montana (Big Hole, Beaverhead, & Ruby Rivers). Late spring and early summer can produce high water, It usually starts in early to mid May and subsides by late June, this is also true of the Madison. The Big Hole above Wise River has serval places where the river fans out with side cannels that can be wade fished almost any time. The Beaverhead and Ruby are both tailwaters and depending on dam releases can be very fishable, although this year as of now the snow pack is quite high so I would expect the releases to be higher than normal. The Ruby has limited access where the Beaverhead is more accessable, best access is the Big Hole.

post-23663-0-89562700-1516720294_thumb.jpg

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I have not been to Yellowstone since the year after the fire, but there are many great people working there. I always got excellent information from Craig Matthew's shop, "Blue Ribbon Flies" in West Yellowstone. Many of us remember West Yellowstone for no stoplights and wooden sidewalks. I second the Serendipity by Ross Merigold. Many people stand and cast toward the center of the river, but the trick was keeping a low profile and cast next to the bank. Fish are there or in the undercuts.

Tom

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