Flowing 183 miles from the confluence of the Gibbon and Firehole rivers in Yellowstone National Park to the headwaters of the Missouri River in Three Forks, Mont., the Madison River has developed a reputation as one of the worlds finest trout fishing waters.
The upper reaches in Yellowstone Park, restricted to fly fishing only, gurgle slowly through grassy meadows and offer terrific opportunities for brown trout in the fall.
After leaving the park, the river passes sequentially through Hebegen, Quake, and finally Ennis lakes. The section between Quake and Ennis lakes, known as the 50-mile riffle, gets the most attention from anglers, with abundant rainbow and brown trout, convenient access, and easy floating or wading.Below Ennis, the Madison enters Bear Trap Canyon, a 6,000-acre designated wilderness featuring class IV whitewater surging beneath 1,500-foot cliffs. Downstream of the canyon, the river flattens out and cuts through sprawling ranchlands on its way to Three Forks.
Special boating and fishing regulations apply on various sections of the Madison River. For the latest information, check the detailed waterbody report at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.