Here is a quick update I’m calling my Montana road trip – Madison River.

Madison River Sunset |

I love visiting the Madison River valley. This picture is the sunset on our first night after a great thunderstorm that skirted us while we were fishing below Raynold’s Pass Bridge. We decided to go to one of our favorite spots that has rewarded us in past visits…to no avail. It was slow fishing for the first day or so. We needed a little time to reacquaint ourselves to the river.

I really like fishing around $3 Bridge.

Water Above $3 Bridge |

The pocket water holds some really nice rainbow and brown trout. It’s surprising how close to shore these fish hold. You must be very careful walking upstream not to spook trout holding right next to shore and in less than one foot of water. I tried to be as stealthy as possible, but still spooked them. The one bright side is knowing where the trout hold. I used this knowledge the next time I visited the water, either that night or the next morning.

This is what you are looking for.

Rainbow Hiding |

Here is a picture of $3 Dollar Bridge.

$3 Bridge |

It certainly isn’t a secret fishing spot as many fly fishers stop to fish the fabled waters. The name comes from a group working to preserve access along the river and asking for donations to help. There is still a box asking for a $3 donation to help the ongoing maintenance of the area. It’s also how the $3 Dip Serendipity got it’s name. Nick Nicklas, a well known Blue Ribbon Flies guide from West Yellowstone, developed this effective fly pattern for this section of the river. It just so happens it works in most of the waters I fish as well!

$3 Dip

$3 Dip - Gold Bead |

Our base camp was at Kelly Galloup’s Slide Inn, Cabin #4. We were able to fish the Madison River below Quake Lake from Raynold’s Pass Bridge to Lyon’s Bridge during our five day stay.

My wife and I were able to catch some nice rainbows and brown trout. It just so happens the Beetle Bailey continued to be a go-to fly pattern.

Madison River Brown Trout - Beetle Bailey |

We wore ourselves out fishing early in the morning, taking a mid-day break, then returning to the river around 5 pm and fishing until dark. Most of the time we looked at the clock on the way off the river and it as after 9:30 pm. Do that routine for 5 days straight and I’m sure it would tire a lot of fly fishers!

This slippery little fish came up for Beetle Bailey as well. A nice rainbow to hand…yes, I did have a good hold, to no avail.

Madison River - Slippery Fish |

The sunsets most nights were spectacular.

Madison River Sunset 2 |

And the fading late evening light was beautiful as well.

Madison River - Lazy Fishing |

One of the joys I have fishing this pocket water is to use my observation skills and occasionally be rewarded with views like this.

Madison River Rainbow Eating |

This rainbow trout rose time after time.

And while I’m at it, here is another fish picture, a brown trout my wife caught.

Madison River Brown |

And another quick release by yours truly.

Madison River - Slippery Trout |

I hope you enjoyed this brief travelogue of my Montana Road Trip – Madison River.

Stay tuned for the next chapter.

Madison River - Relaxed Fishing |

Be sure to read more about our Montana Road Trip in the following posts:

Enjoy…go fish…the Madison River!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Similar Posts


  1. Hi John,

    Glad to see this water is still productive. I tried to include a day here on every trip to Montana. Those days are past now. Thank you for the memories.


    1. Jack

      So happy to hear I was able to produce some good old fly fishing memories for you as you read my recent Madison River fishing experience. It truly is a special place!


  2. Wow, John, that first pic of the thunderstorm is fantastic. Beautiful colors.
    Thanks for sharing your virtual trip.
    Betty rentz

  3. Hi John
    Looks like you are having a good time. We fished the Yellowstone earlier this week and have been working the last few days. We will see you soon.
    Tight lines…Al Beatty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.