Headwaters of the Madison River

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For a trout fishermen, Yellowstone National Park is a Mecca of sorts. The name alone evokes images of pristine rivers, streams and lakes teeming with wild trout. There is more than a lifetime’s worth of exploration and fishing in Yellowstone.

Trout Streams in Yellowstone

The park is home to many great trout streams like Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek, the Lamar, the Firehole, Gibbon and Yellowstone to name a few. But perhaps none is more famous than the Madison River. It begins at the confluence of the Gibbon and the Firehole about 14 miles inside of the park’s west entrance. After leaving the park, the Madison flows through two large lakes on its journey northward toward Three Forks, Montana where it joins up with the Jefferson and Gallatin to form the mighty Missouri River. The Madison is a great fishery for its entire length, with exceptional insect hatches and high fish counts throughout its 120 mile course.

Fly-fishing tips for Yellowstone waters

The fishing season in Yellowstone National Park, and on the Madison, begins on the third Saturday in May and ends on the first Sunday of November.  This is the general season for much of the river outside the park also.  However the river is open to fishing year-round in the area around and below the town of Ennis, 70 miles north of the park. And the early spring months of March, April and May can produce some great nymph fishing.

Although spring runoff usually causes the river to run high from mid-May through late June, fishing can still be quite good using a variety of nymphs and streamers. As runoff subsides and summer settles in, anglers will do well fishing the riffles and runs with attractor dry flies, terrestrials, caddis and mayflies as well as nymphs and streamers. Fall is also an exciting time on the Madison River in Yellowstone. Large Brown Trout migrate out of Hebgen Lake upstream into the river to spawn. Many of the largest fish of the year are caught during this period using large nymphs and streamers.

Whether you are fishing the Upper Madison in Yellowstone, or anywhere downstream toward Ennis and Three Forks, it is sure to make for a great experience. You will be surrounded by incredible natural beauty and trout-infested water!

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