We had a wonderful week fly fishing the Madison River Valley recently. The Madison River was one of the stops on another fly fishing road trip. There are too many choices of where to fish when visiting the Madison Valley and we had a difficult time deciding where to fish. Besides fly fishing the Madison River, other choices included Ennis Lake, Quake Lake, and Hebgen Lake.

The first day of our seven day adventure found us at $3 Bridge. For some reason, I really enjoy the serenity of early morning fishing here.

$3 Bridge on Madison River | www.johnkreft.com

Not all the fish in the Madison River are big…but they all fight.

Small Madison River Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com

This is one of our favorite spots and we’ve always caught fish here. They don’t always show themselves, but we’ve learned to wait for them and figure out what the fish are eating when they begin to rise.

Madison River Fish On | www.johnkreft.com

This little OGF Mayfly tied by my friend Bryan did the trick for us. I pulled the wings down to create a spinner effect. That’s what I had found floating downstream that the fish were eating.

OGF Mayfly | www.johnkreft.com

I like fishing the pocket water with dry flies, trying to entice the fish to look up. Eric is tying on new tippet after hooking and breaking off a nice trout. These fish are strong!

Madison River Pocket Water | www.johnkreft.com

Our strategy for fishing the Madison River is to fish early in the morning and late evening. This strategy continued to be successful for us.

Here is a Youtube video from evening fishing.

We were fishing the pocket water and moving upstream trying to find rising fish. I finally was able to find a pod of fish sipping small midges.

Madison River Midge | www.johnkreft.com

A few fish came to our nets that evening. We used small Blue Wing Olive flies that night.

Late Evening Brown Trout from Madison River | www.johnkreft.com

We knew fishing in August could be a challenge, which is why we made our spontaneous fly fishing trip in early July.

I had read the Blue Ribbon Flies weekly newsletter and found we should expect ant fly patterns to be good. They had highlighted the Arrick’s Parachute Ant and I tied up several for us to use. In addition, I tied a few Galloup’s Ant Acid to test as well.

Arrick’s Parachute Ant

Arrick's Parachute Ant | www.johnkreft.com
Arrick’s Parachute Ant

Galloup’s Ant Acid

Galloup's Ant Acid | www.johnkreft.com

Rainbow with Galloup’s Ant Acid

Madison River Rainbow Trout with Galloup's Ant Acid | www.johnkreft.com

Many of the fish we caught this trip were from blind casting using these two ant fly patterns. These two fly patterns were VERY effective. While both flies worked, Arrick’s Parachute Ant was much easier to locate and accounted for most of the fish we caught.

Madison River Rainbow Trout | www.johnkreft.com
Karen with Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com
Madison River Brown Trout - Head Shot | www.johnkreft.com
Madison River Rainbow Trout | www.johnkreft.com
Madison River Cheeks | www.johnkreft.com
Madison River Brown Trout After Release | www.johnkreft.com
Madison River Rainbow Trout | www.johnkreft.com
Madison River Rainbow Trout at Dusk | www.johnkreft.com

We finally fished Ennis Lake for the first time. In addition, we spent a few hours on Quake lake where the Madison River enters the lake.

Fishing Madison River MT | www.johnkreft.com

After breakfast at Campfire Lodge, we headed to the end of the road to see if there were any rising fish.

And speaking of Campfire Lodge, we always try and stop there for breakfast and shop for feathers. 

Campfire Lodge Cinnamon Rolls | www.johnkreft.com

We happened to be there on Jim Slattery’s birthday. I think he was quite embarrassed when everyone in the restaurant sang “happy birthday” to him!

Celebrating Jim Slattery's Birthday at Campfire Lodge | www.johnkreft.com

Jim is well known for being behind the grill cooking his HUGE pancakes. If you are in the area, this is a MUST stop.

Oh, I almost forgot about his feather selection…

Shopping for Hackle at Campfire Lodge | www.johnkreft.com

I’ve purchased many capes and saddles over the years from Jim. He has the largest selection I’ve ever seen in one spot.

But back to the fishing…

We found fish rising as we arrived at the river. Most were small rainbows in the 9 to 10 inch range, but I did turn a bigger Brown Trout along the edges. I think I was too quick to set the hook!

After the hatch slowed down and fish stopped rising, we walked along the shore of Quake Lake towards Beaver Creek looking for rising fish. We’ve had success in past years doing this.

Fishing Quake Lake MT | www.johnkreft.com

Callibaetis mayfly spinners were flying around the water and we located a couple rising fish. I cast to one of them…and got lucky!

Quake Lake MT Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com

We had a terrific time fly fishing the Madison River Valley. We fished new water and were able to entice fish to the surface with our ant fly patterns.

And sometimes a little magic happens…a double!

Madison River Double | www.johnkreft.com

We are always on the lookout for wildlife while fishing the Madison. Always heard stories about he bears around West Fork, but have never seen any. And yes, bear spray is on our belts. While leaving the Madison Valley for our next stop, we were fortunate enough to find this little bear family.

Bear Family | www.johnkreft.com

And mom eating a few apples…

Momma Bear Eating Apples | www.johnkreft.com

We’re already planning another trip to the Madison Valley!

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. John, The PHW Portland group is in Coeur d’Alene. One day away from Ennis. Your post is a wonderful “fly” to put in front of our group. Very enticing.

    Thanks, again.

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