UPPER MADISON RIVER FISHING REPORT (4-22-14) by Michael Stack of FishTales Outfitting LLC
By angelamontana

Posted: April 23, 2014

Current Madison River flows:

  • Hebgen Dam 1040 cfs
  • Kirby 1,130 cfs
  • Varney 1,300 cfs

Very clear at 3+ feet.  But expect that to start to change as things warm up


Ken show’s off a nice Madison River brown trout.

The Upper Madison remains closed from Quake Lake downstream to McAtee Fishing Access Site (FAS)  and again from Ennis FAS downstream to Ennis Lake FAS until the general season opener Saturday May 17th.

The Madison River is open to fishing between the lakes from Hebgen Dam to Quake Lake.  The river is also open to fishing between McAtee Bridge FAS downstream to Ennis FAS. The river is now clear of ice, not all the boat ramps are accessible. Ennis FAS will remain closed until FWP repairs the washed out culvert at the entrance.

Be advised there is a tree across the center channel just below the “Mouse Hole” heading towards Eight Mile Ford FAS that is passable but not advised because of the speed of the river in this newer channel. Take the smaller east channel instead it’s safer.

The second ten percent increase out of Hebgen Dam has had little effect on the fishing on the Madison River.

Evening temperatures below freezing are keeping most of the smaller feeder creeks from blowing out keeping the river clear and fishing quite well. The West Fork of the Madison hasn’t started running off so yet so visibility hasn’t changed much and although you can expect to see another ten percent bump in the flows as room is made for the expected larger than normal run-off, visibility should stay at least good until the West Fork or one of the smaller feeder creeks finally let’s go.
Tactics and Patterns:
·         Nymphing remains the most productive method for catching trout on the Madison River. A two fly nymph rig presented dead drift, under an indicator, with plenty of mending to slow down your presentation.

·         Rubber legged patterns like a Chocolate Trout Retriever or Pat’s Stone in black and brown #6-10 are a good first fly choice.

·         San Juan Worms and Disco Worms in red, burgundy and pink #6-10.

·         Midge larva patterns like Zebra Midges, Shop Vac’s and Serendipities in black, red and purple in #14-18.

·         Baetis nymphs like Split Cases, Psycho May’s and Pheasant Tails and Prince Nymphs #14-18.

Dry Flies
·         Beatis are starting to show up in the afternoon’s and trout are eating them sporadically on the surface in softer water along inside edges and back eddy’s. Cloudy, calm days will always be your best days for dry flies action.

·         Try a Parachute Adams, Sparkle Dun or CDC Dun or a CDC Emerger.

·         Skwala’s are never big hatch on the Madison but they’re worth the try in the stretches above Ennis when the conditions are right.

·         Chubby Chernobyl’s in olive or brown or a Black Magic are a good choice.

·         Streamer fishing is decent, better in the afternoon’s when water temps get above 45*. Slower retrieves and dead drifting in the morning, faster retrieves across the middle of big runs is catching some nice brown’s.

·         Sculpin patterns in olive, natural or brown or combination.

·         Try a Sculpzilla, Peanut Envy, Exasperator, Zonker, Flash Fry, Mini-Loop Sculpin, Wooley Sculpin or Boogie Man #2-6 Check my Top Ten Streamer’s for SW Montana  for a more thorough list.


A beautiful bright Madison River rainbow trout! Tips:

The rainbow trout are spawning, so if you see patches of bright gravel, watch your step, and please stay clear!  Also be aware of winter fishing hazards like rapid weather changes. Remember to be prepared with appropriate winter fishing clothing. If you have studded boots or cleats… where them!

For More Information:

For more information on Montana fly fishing and guided fishing trips The Madison River please contact FishTales Outfitting.


(Report by Michael Stack of FishTales Outfitting LLC)