Hebgen Lake is also a very productive and famous piece
of water consisting of large rainbows and browns. Many
people fish the lake from boats or float tubes when conditions
are right. Large woolly buggers are a productive fly
in the lake. The Madison leaves Hebgen Lake and flows
into Quake Lake which was created by an earthquake in
Below Quake Lake, the Madison makes its famous journey
to Ennis Lake, approximately 50 miles to the north.
This is the long strait journey that is considered
the "50 mile riffle". This is a world renowned stretch
that runs cold throughout the year due to the water
releases from the dam at Hebgen Lake. Large rainbow
and brown trout are the main attraction here. The riverbed
consists of gravel and small stones. It flows through
an open environment of brush, hills, scattered trees
and surrounding mountains.
Route 287 and other secondary roads provide several
access points along the Madison all the way to the
Town of Ennis and Ennis lake. Look for areas of softer
windows and depressions where trout will hold. Remember
that the river does not have deep slow pools, undercut
banks, turns and runs, which are characteristic of
most other rivers.
Below Ennis lake, the Madison makes another 30 mile
journey until meeting with the Gallatin and Jefferson
to form the Missouri. This stretch of river is similar
to the section above Ennis Lake, except for the warmer
water and raging conditions of the Bear Trap Canyon
stretch which is located a few miles below Ennis Lake
and is considered too dangerous to float for most boatsmen.
The river flattens out below Bear Trap and slows
down before entering the town of Three Forks and its
meeting with the Gallatin and Jefferson Rivers. Large
browns make up most of the trout population below Ennis
Lake. Large nymphs drifted in the Bear Trap Canyon
stretch can produce some trophies, just be careful
and bring a lot of weight along.
Hatches on the Madison include Caddis, Salmon Flies(big
stones), Yellow Sallies, and a few mayflies like the
Blue-winged Olive. Hoppers are also important to have
in late summer. Woolly Buggers, other streamers, and
different sizes and styles of nymphs are also a staple
throughout the season.
If you're looking to plan a trip to the Madison the
closest commercial airport is in Bozeman. Bozeman is
a short drive from the Madison and is a good central
hub for other rivers as well. Your opportunities in
this part of the state are excellent with the numerous
rivers in the area. Yellowstone National Park is also
a short drive from Bozeman and definitely worth a visit.