On the next stop of our 2018 fly fishing road trip, we planned to fish a week on the Madison River, MT, but decided to try our luck for a day fly fishing Ennis Lake. I’ve always heard about the trout in Ennis Lake, but it’s like anything new…sometimes it’s easier not to try.

Ennis Lake | www.johnkreft.com

Perhaps that doesn’t make sense to you, but I seem to continue doing what is comfortable and fishing the Madison River fits right into that comfort zone.

But today was different. We headed out with our friends Eric and Sherry and drove through the thriving metropolis of Ennis, MT (population 890) to Ennis Lake.

Yes, we represented Winston Rod Company well with an assortment of their rods. 

Ready to Fish | www.johnkreft.com

A short distance from Ennis, we found the boat lauch and as we were getting all our fly fishing gear into the drift boat, thousands of Trico mayflies were everywhere!

The funny thing is, I had tied several Trico fly patterns and thought I packed them. But I couldn’t find them anywhere. I searched high and low, but to no avail. I did have a few Upright Trico Spinner (fly pattern sheet to be added soon) flies I had tied after reading the Blue Ribbon Flies weekly blog a few weeks ago. But for the life of me, I couldn’t find the other flies my friend Pete told me to tie for Silver Creek.

Well, back to the Tricos flying around and landing on my coat. I thought they were taunting me!!! It looked like we would be fishing Trico imitations today.

Tricos on Coat | www.johnkreft.com

Here is a close-up picture of a female Trico. These are small – # 20 to 24.

Female Trico from Ennis Lake | www.johnkreft.com

The Tricos were landing everywhere and a short time later, out would hatch the spinner. Here is a video I took showing a newly hatched spinner.

We were finally ready to motor out to the fishing spot.

Drift Boat on Ennis Lake | www.johnkreft.com

We headed to the inlet where the Madison River enters the lake. After anchoring next to the bank, we gingerly walked out into the lake. To our surprise, the lake is very shallow and we found our friend Richard quite a ways out…and only mid-thigh.

Fly Fishing Ennis Lake MT | www.johnkreft.com

Richard gave us the scoop that he had fish rising to Callibaetis mayflies. Needless to say, that was music to my ears! Remember my sad Trico story?

Callibaetis Spinner - Ennis Lake | www.johnkreft.com

Even though this fly was a spinner, a #14 Callibaetis Sparkle Dun did the trick. I switched to a Callibaetis Spinner fly pattern later.

We found fish periodically rising to flies on the water. The way to fish was target a specific fish and determine which was he was headed after eating a mayfly…easier said then done.

Karen was the first to hook and land a nice Rainbow trout. I too, finally got on the board.

Ennis Lake Rainbow Trout | www.johnkreft.com

These Rainbows were good size, ranging between 16 and close to 20 inches. I heard Richard say he landed one about 22 inches.

For our first time, I think we did well. I ended up hooking 6 and landed 4. The other two fish broke off and I was using 4x tippet.

Rainbow Trout in Water - Ennis Lake | www.johnkreft.com
Rainbow Trout Cheeks - Ennis Lake | www.johnkreft.com

I almost forgot to mention the wind. If you have ever fished Montana rivers, streams, and lakes, you know what I mean. The wind can be ferocious. Richard told us we would fish the hatch until the wind blew us off the lake. Sometimes it doesn’t take long to do that.

Today was different. We fished until the hatch pretty much ended and fish were rising very seldom.

It was a great day!

I think we will have to return to fly fishing Ennis Lake.

Oh, remember those Trico flies I tied and couldn’t find? A couple days later they were found. In the console under a rag.

I knew I put them in the van!!! Oh well…

Next week’s blog will feature our time on the Madison River, including Quake Lake.

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. John, We are taking a group of veterans from Portland to Ennis next week. We arrive on 9/6 and leave 9/12. We have gotten great help from Madison/Gallatin TU and a couple of other Montana friends to get us to good, fishy water. Ennis Lake is on our list. It is great to have you and Karen and Sherry and Eric scouting for us before we get there. Can’t wait for the report on the Madison and Quake Lake.

    Thanks for the report!!!

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