Species
Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout
Destination Type
Luxury Lodge
Fishing Style
Drift Boat, Dry Fly, Sightfishing, Wading
Season
May - October
Fishing Days
4 - 10+
Rate
$$
Why We Go
  • Fish the Madison River, a consistent, year-round, tailwater fishery with high fish counts
  • Experience a variety of fisheries in nearby Yellowstone Park (spring and fall) as well as the Jefferson, Bighole, and Ruby Rivers
  • Explore one of Montana’s most scenic river valleys
  • Enjoy true river-side accommodations where all rooms have decks overlooking the water and mountains
  • Enjoy an intimate lodge atmosphere with exceptional service, and an excellent culinary program
Overview

The Madison River Lodge is an all-inclusive experience just steps away from the legendary Madison River. The location simply can't be beat as the lodge is situated in the center of the famous Upper Madison’s "50-mile riffle."  The river bends around the property allowing plenty of opportunities for guests to cast a line at their convenience. The lodge is surrounded by protected public BLM lands that adjoin the Wall Creek Wildlife Management area which is home to abundant wildlife. Each guest room has its own private bath and walk-out deck overlooking the river.

The legendary waters of Yellowstone Park are only 40-minutes away and the trophy dry fly fisheries of Hebgen and Quake Lakes are just minutes upstream. A longer drive will land guests on the Ruby, Jefferson, Gallatin or Missouri Rivers as well as several private access fisheries. This traditional fly fishing lodge has a classic look and welcoming atmosphere with its warm wood accents and stone fire places. The huge back deck provides amazing views upstream along the river and surrounding mountains. The private setting, incredible access, and inviting staff make this a truly special location.

Fishing Program

The outfitter 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 center of the watershed, 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 large wild trout that offer technical dry fly fishing within a stone’s 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. The outfitter 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 brown and rainbow trout to keep every angler happy. Guests fish two anglers per guide and have both boat fishing and wade fishing options.

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 Lake 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 rainbow and brown trout in the 18- to 25-inch 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 Lake.

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 Lake. Trout numbers are high and hatches can be prolific. Some huge trout also make their way up from Quake Lake at times as well.

Quake Lake Just upstream from the lodge is another gorgeous smaller lake. It was formed when an earthquake caused a landslide and damned the river. Large brown trout patrol the lake and streamer fishing can sometimes produce great results. The gulper dry fly fishing on Quake Lake can also be solid in late July and August. 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 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 rainbow and brown trout 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 Canyon 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 river’s mouth at Three Forks the river broadens and large weed beds 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 April through 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 River is a productive and scenic option. It is a little over an hour from the lodge but can add 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 in the spring, early summer and fall.

Missouri River The lodge mostly fishes the Upper Missouri. 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 for the fences with the hopes of hitting one or two monster trout in a day’s fishing.

Gallatin River The Gallatin is a smaller river that offers nice wade fishing and some float fishing near its mouth. It is about an hour from the lodge. If guests have an early flight the outfitter can often arrange to pick them up and fish the Gallatin before driving to the lodge in time for dinner.

Private Ranches The outfitter 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.

Accommodations

The lodge sits on the banks on the Madison River - the river literally wraps around the lodge in a large bend. The 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 five guest rooms with a maximum occupancy of 10 anglers to preserve a warm and intimate atmosphere. The rooms each have two queen beds and a private bath. Each room also has a walk-out deck that overlooks the river.

The Lodge Location and Surrounding Area

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

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Madison River Lodge

Days 2-6: Full days of guided fishing

Day 7: Depart lodge

Rates & Details

2024 Rates: Per person based on double occupancy

  • 7 night/6 day package: $6,650
  • 6 night 5 day package: $5,650
  • 5 night/4 day package: $4,650
  • 4 night/3 day package: $3,650
  • 3 night/2 day package: $2,650

Included: Accommodations, meals, guided fishing, alcohol, fly fishing equipment, terminal tackle, tax.

Not Included: Airfare, transportation to/from the lodge, staff and guide gratuities, fishing license.

Species: Brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout

Season: May - October

Capacity: 10 guests

Fly Water Q&A

Why We Go

  • Fish the Madison River, a consistent, year-round, tailwater fishery with high fish counts
  • Experience a variety of fisheries in nearby Yellowstone Park (spring and fall) as well as the Jefferson, Bighole, and Ruby Rivers
  • Explore one of Montana’s most scenic river valleys
  • Enjoy true river-side accommodations where all rooms have decks overlooking the water and mountains
  • Enjoy an intimate lodge atmosphere with exceptional service, and an excellent culinary program

Who is best suited for this destination? Madison River Lodge is a great fit for anglers of all skills. High trout counts allow for novice anglers to be successful while more experienced fly fishers can explore a variety of techniques.

Where is the lodge? The lodge is located 18 miles due south of Ennis, Montana. It is approximately a 1.5-hour drive from Bozeman airport (BZN) and about an hour from the West entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

How do I get there? Most guests fly into Bozeman (BZN) and either rent a car or the outfitter can arrange an airport transfer at added cost.

When should I go? The Madison has a long and consistent season due to the stabilizing flows released from Hebgen reservoir.

April and May: Great for high catch rates and few other anglers

Late May through mid-June: High catch rates and larger trout landed. Flows are higher and the outfitter uses boats to ferry from location to location to wade fish on many sections of the Upper Madison. The outfitter does have some fishing from the boat on the Lower Madison, but the Upper Madison is often best waded this time of year.

Mid-June – Late July: A popular time to visit and target numerous early summer hatches including the salmon fly, golden stone, yellow sally, pale morning dun and caddis. Both wading and float fishing are effective.

Late July through Mid-September: Lots of good fishing options including terrestrial fishing with hoppers and ants to fishing sculpins sub surface while hunting for bigger trout.

Late September through October:  Generally pleasant fall weather and a great time to target large fish. The Madison experiences some fall runs of big trout moving out of reservoirs then.

How will I fish? Fishing varies by time of year. Options include nymphing, dry flies and streamer fishing. Guests will have the option to wade fish or boat fish depending on the time of year and preferences.

Is there wade fishing? The Madison and surrounding rivers and streams offer both float fishing and wade fishing. The Madison has specific zones where fishing from the boat is allowed and others where guests can use a boat for transportation only but must get out to wade fish.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? The lodge is centrally located at the midpoint of “50-mile riffle” section of the Upper Madison. There is a private boat ramp on the property. Most days when fishing the Madison drive times are less than 20-minutes. If fishing out of the valley to explore other rivers or Yellowstone Park guests may drive slightly more than an hour.

What type of fish will I catch? Most of the fishing is for wild brown and rainbow trout. There are a few cutthroat trout in some locations as well although they are less common.

How many fish will I catch? Anglers are rarely skunked, even on tougher fishing days. Most days anglers land 10 to 20 trout per guide boat per day (two anglers fishing). On a great day experienced anglers might land over 50 trout in a guide boat.

Will I see other anglers? Yes. The Madison is one of the world’s most famous wild trout fisheries and guests will see plenty of other fisherman.

What are the guides like? The guides are experienced and professional fishing guides that are licensed by the state of Montana. They are also excellent instructors.

What are the physical demands for anglers? Anglers can generally choose to wade or float fish. Float fishing is less demanding than wading and the skiffs and drift boats have swivel seats with padded high-backed chairs. Wade fishing is slightly more strenuous, but guests do not need to undergo extensive hikes to get to the fisheries.

Are there any special skills required? The Madison is great for veteran anglers and novices alike. No special skills are needed if you are new to fly fishing.

Is equipment provided? Yes, all fishing equipment including rods, flies and waders are provided.

What are the best fly rod setups for the Madison? A 9-foot six weight is ideal for nymphing and dry fly fishing on windy days. A 9-foot, 5-weight is a great dry fly specific rod. Floating lines are preferred. Streamer fishing can be an option in the fall or at certain times in the spring with either a 6- or 7-weight rod (either floating line or a sink tip).

What are the top flies? Fly selection varies dramatically from season to season and even hour to hour on the Madison. A general assortment of flies that imitate common Western hatches, terrestrials and streamers is adequate. Flies are included and it is best to arrive and use specific patterns that are working at the time of your trip.

What are the options if water conditions become challenging? The Madison is always fishable due to the tailwater effect from the reservoirs upstream. Weather conditions do vary and there can be days with cold, rain, or wind.  Guests should plan accordingly and look at the 10-day weather forecast prior to packing.

What is a typical day like? The day starts with a great breakfast prepared by the chef in the morning. After breakfast, guests depart with their guides to fish. Most days you travel as short as 1-minute or as long as 25-minutes to start the day. Depending on water levels you may cover 6- to 12-miles of water while fishing. The fishing wraps up in the late afternoon and guides drop guests back off at the lodge in time for appetizers, cocktails, and dinner.

What is the vibe and atmosphere at the lodge like? The lodge is relaxed and caters to no more than 10 guests per week. The main gathering area has a vaulted great room with views of the river and bar area. There is also a huge fire pit near the river as well as decks with comfortable outdoor seating. Guests can show up in their fishing clothes or spruce up a bit but in general there is a casual atmosphere at the lodge.

Is there an on-site manager at the lodge? Yes. Lodge managers live on site in the staff housing on the far side of the property.

Where do we eat, what are meals like? Breakfasts and dinners are served at the lodge while lunches are on the river. Lunches are picnic style lunches that go in the guide coolers. Breakfasts vary by the day and include made-to-order options or daily specials. There is always some variety at breakfast and some healthy options. Appetizers are available soon after guests come back from fishing and then a multi-course plated dinner is served in the large dining room with windows that overlook the river. All dietary restrictions and food allergies are accommodated for by the executive chef.

Is there internet and/or cell service? There is high speed internet and Wi-Fi at the lodge. There is also a land line available. Cell service is decent in the main lodge near the cell booster. Wi-Fi calling using facetime or other internet enabled calls all work well.

Are there other activities? Most guests come to focus on fly fishing but there are some options to take a day off to explore. Yellowstone Park is 1-hour from the lodge while the restored historic mining town of Virginia City is 45-minutes away.

Are there any other expenses? Most costs are included in the base rate, but guests should plan for guide and lodge staff gratuities and fishing licenses. Airport shuttles are also an extra cost if guests prefer not to rent a car.

Are there any health concerns, dangers or annoyances? Weather in the Rockies can be unpredictable, and guests are encouraged to bring layers for cool mornings and evenings with an option for lighter clothes during the heat of the day. Rain and snow are a possibility in most months of the year. Wind can be an issue around fall, and in early summer there may be some mosquitos at boat ramps.

 

 

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