Montana Fly Fishing
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The Madison River
River : Fly Fishing
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Despite its well-publicized battles with Whirling Disease, the Madison River in Montana still provides excellent fly fishing. After declining to less than 300 rainbow trout per mile in the mid-1990's, the Madison has since rebounded. Recent estimates put the number of rainbow trout of 10 inches or more over 1500 per mile. While this is below the historic levels reached in the mid-1980's, the number and size of rainbow trout currently in the Madison River still rank the river as one of the premier rivers in Montana. Additionally, the brown trout in the Madison River, as elsewhere, were largely unaffected by Whirling Disease. As a result, anglers can expect solid fishing action for both decent sized rainbow trout and very large brown trout in what may be the prettiest fishing river in Montana.
There are several distinct sections on the Madison River. Each are covered separately.
For most of this section, the Madison River flows in Wyoming through Yellowstone National Park. A summary of this section of the Madison River is provided below. For more complete information, please see our Madison River in Yellowstone National Park section.
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The Madison River in Yellowstone National Park has extremely good fly fishing. The active geysers of Yellowstone keep the Madison River very high in fertility, and also keep the temperatures of the water warm. Fishing is seasonal in nature, with the best fly fishing being during early summer and again in the fall. The high temperatures of summer will frequently warm up the Madison River to temperature levels that require the park to close off all fishing.
Yellowstone National Park opens for fishing in late May. The best early fishing on the Madison River tends to occur, depending on water levels, in mid-June with the arrival of excellent caddis hatches and Salmon Fly hatches.
During the fall, this stretch of the Madison River comes alive again, this time with large brown trout that migrate up from Hebgen Lake. This time of the year is a very good time to fly fish the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park, as the vast bulk of the crowds are gone. Just be prepared for cold weather.
It should be noted that most of the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park flows through a heavily burned area. The fires of 1988 rippped through this section of the park, destroying most of the canopy (much of which was dead or dying anyway due to beetle infestations). As a result, don't expect to find the pristine scenery that is located elsewhere in Yellowstone National Park.
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