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Upper Madison River Fishing in April

Upper Madison River Fly Fishing in April

April is a fantastic month for anglers of all experience levels to fish the upper stretches of the Madison River fishing near Ennis, Montana.

Warming water temperatures boost rainbow and brown trout metabolisms out of their sluggish winter torpor and also increase aquatic insect activity. More bugs and hungrier fish mean happy anglers, though there aren’t all that many of them.

Relatively few people take advantage of the exceptional pre-runoff fishing on the Upper Madison. Opportunities abound, whether you prefer wade fishing on foot or floating in a drift boat.

Upper Madison River Fly Fishing Hatches in April

Insect activity increases throughout the month with midge, blue-winged olive (BWO), March brown, skwala, and caddis hatches.

Midges and mayflies hatch more prolifically on mild, overcast days, while the caddis and skwalas are most active on the warm, sunny days later in the month.

Upper Madison River Fly Fishing Techniques in April

Cooler water temperatures call for a patient, methodical approach to covering likely holding water for rainbow and brown trout on the Upper Madison throughout the spring.

Nymph deep, runs, pools and mid-river depressions with two flies under a strike indicator. Find slower water. You may need to add split shot, depending on the depth of the run.

Dry fly anglers can find rising fish during afternoon mayfly and caddis hatches. If you’re not seeing any heads, rig a large dry fly like a purple Chubby Chernobyl with a small nymph dropper. This is a great way to prospect for trout that are feeding on skwalas and hatching mayflies.

Finally, fly fishing the Madison with large streamers from the drift boat can be “boom or bust” this time of year. Our guides usually find a few large brown trout on early season Madison River guide trips.

Bozeman Fly Fishing Guide Pro-Tip:

This is a great time of year to be wading between Varney Bridge and the Valley Garden Fishing Access Site, where rainbow trout congregate and start to feed heavily before their spawning season. Nymphing worm and egg patterns 4-4.5 feet below an indicator through braided runs can be very effective. Some very large trout can be found through this stretch, particularly in deeper water.

Our Upper Madison River Fly Box for April

Upper Madison River Fly Fishing Guide Trips in April

In April, fish stack up in the lowest and highest sections of the river. Either fish within a mile or so of Ennis, or go way upstream to Raynold’s Pass or Three-Dollar Bridge.

The Raynold’s Pass Bridge to Lyon’s Bridge sections are best suited for wade trips. Be advised, these require a 1.5 hour drive to and from Bozeman. Accessing the river near Ennis, however, is easier for anglers coming from Bozeman. The Varney to Ennis Lake sections also 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 nuances of spring fishing on the Upper Madison River. Lower water temperatures mean that feeding fish may be less willing to move for a meal, so we spend a lot of time out of the boat, methodically covering the best likely holding water with nymphs or dry-dropper rigs.

Fishing from boats is prohibited from Ennis Bridge to Ennis Lake. We can, however, use boats to travel between wading spots, which is a fantastic way to cover these productive river miles.

Madison River fishing day trips, in April, are best suited for anglers with previous fly-fishing experience who can comfortably wade a slippery stream bed in medium to heavy current.

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 assistance with planning your Montana fishing trip.

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