Upper Madison River Fishing in April

April Fly Fishing the Upper Madison River

April is a great month to experience Madison River fishing on the upper river stretches near Ennis for novice or experienced fly anglers.

Warming water temperatures help to increase Rainbow and Brown Trout metabolism which, in turn, keeps them feeding more actively throughout the day.

The river is relatively uncrowded and productive opportunities can be found for the wading angler fishing on foot or from a drift boat.

April Hatches on the Upper Madison River

Insect activity becomes more abundant throughout the month with Midge, Blue-Winged Olive, March Brown, Skwala, and Caddis hatches.

The Midge and Mayfly hatches are best on mild, overcast days while the Caddis and Skwala are most active on the warm, sunny days later in the month.

Upper Madison River Fishing Techniques in April

Cooler water temperatures call for a more patient approach to covering likely holding water for Rainbow and Brown Trout on the upper Madison River throughout the spring.

Nymphing deep runs, pools and mid-river depressions with two flies under a strike indicator provides the angler with the most consistent action.

The experienced dry fly angler can find steadily rising fish during afternoon Mayfly and Caddis hatches. Using a large dry fly like a Purple Chubby Chernobyl with a small nymph dropper is a great way to prospect for Trout that are looking for Skwala and hatching mayflies.

Finally, fly fishing the Madison with large streamers from the drift boat can be “boom or bust” this time of the year, but our guides find a few large Brown Trout each year on our early season Madison River guide trips.


Bozeman Fly Fishing Guide Pro-Tip:

This is a great time of year to be wading on foot between Varney Bridge and Valley Garden FAS, as Rainbow Trout start to feed heavily before their spawning season. Nymphing worm and egg patterns 4-4.5 ft below an indicator through braided runs can be very effective. Some very large Rainbow and Brown Trout can be found in this stretch in deeper areas.


Our Upper Madison River Fly Box for April

Upper Madison River Fishing Guide Trips in April

The upper Madison River tends to fish best on the stretches near Ennis at the lower end of the Madison Valley and the extreme upper portions near Raynold’s Bridge in April

The Raynold’s Bridge to Lyon’s Bridge sections are best suited for wade trips and require a very long drive from Bozeman at over 1.5 hours each way.

The Varney to Ennis Lake sections of the river are easily accessed from Bozeman, offer protection on windy days, and hold some of the largest Brown and Rainbow Trout during the Spring.

With over 20 years of experience guiding Montana fishing trips, we understand the various nuances of spring fishing on the upper Madison River. Cold water temperatures mean that fish are less active early in the day, so we spend a lot of time out of the boat, wading around the various channels and methodically covering the best likely holding water with nymphs or dry-dropper rigs.

The stretch between the town of Ennis and Ennis Lake is closed to float fishing, so we use the boats to maneuver between wading spots and to simplify covering several miles of river.

Madison River fishing day trips, in April, are best suited for anglers with previous fly-fishing experience and are comfortable wading the slippery stream bed in a variety of current speeds.

Reservations for Upper Madison River guided trips can be made online, through e-mail, or by calling us at 1-406-468-5019. Our experts are here to help, use our online Contact Form for help with planning your Montana fishing trip.