Quite a few people head through Big Sky for fly fishing vacations. You have quite a few choices of blue ribbon streams to choose from but I thought I would talk about the Madison River on this post. The Madison River is known for larger fish than the Gallatin and from Big Sky you have two choices of where to go fish the Madison(Maddy).
If you want a calm float you head north towards Bozeman and then take a left at 4Corners(Main & 191). Stay on that road and you run into the Maddy in about 30 minutes. This is called the Lower Maddy and is good for early season, winter fishing and beginning drift boaters. It is about a 7 mile float from Warm Springs to Black’s Ford. Where you run into the river is Black’s Ford. Just keep following the road upstream for 7 miles and you can’t miss Warm Springs. A calm river here, it is much more forgiving for a beginner’s float. You can still screw up but if you have rowed a canoe and pay attention it is the perfect classroom. Why early season and winter? Because this is float tube central during the summer and the temperature’s get high enough that fish are sluggish and get stressed easily. The float tubing is fun and can be anyone from college kids to families floating down the river. Pretty shallow and you can stand up in most places so it is nice for families. We float it while one person drives the RV to one of the pullouts and you can get out eat, relax and then continue on down the river. It is a 2-3 hour float or drift. If you are drift boating it is a good idea to stop and wade fish a nice pool.
The upper Maddy is a different river. You would drive south from Big Sky and turn right on 287 near Hebgen Lake. Continue past Quake Lake and you are quickly at the Upper Maddy. From Big Sky it is about 1.5 hours to the start. You can fish all the way into Ennis. The river has boulders and is a bigger river and opportunities for big fish. Not made for your first drift boat trip you have ever taken but once you know how to handle a drift boat it would be wise to take someone that has done it before and give it a try. Boats are turned over in this part of the Maddy and most all of us are going to bounce off at least one boulder on the float. Not trying to scare anyone just want everyone to be safe. You can wade in numerous spots. I would carry a wading stick to steady yourself. Three dollar bridge is a famous place to wade from. There are numerous public put ins and there are numerous opinions on which is the best float. You will most likely see several low bridges(rods down), buffalo jumps and a few bald eagles. I love to float this part during late summer, early fall when the hopper hatch is going on. Always, fish with a buddy and stay within eyesight of each other.
I would always talk to local fly shops and if you haven’t fly fished much I would highly recommend getting a guide for a day. Doesn’t guarantee you will catch fish but it certainly increases the odds and you will learn a lot.
One last very important thing! If you have a child that would like to catch a trout, take him/her over to Ennis and get some worms and a bobber at the grocery store and go to the pond. Fun will ensue! Click on the pic of my daughter to see the size fish you can catch. Just make sure and put them back so another child can have the same amount of fun!
Until next time, I hope you get a chance to enjoy Big Sky and if you need an Interior Decorator please let us know.