Madison Valley Ranch, MT

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge in Ennis, Montana.

Madison Valley Ranch, MT

Overview

Situated on the banks of the Madison River just 3 miles north of Ennis, our location offers anglers unparalleled access to all the best blue-ribbon fly fishing in southwestern Montana. A short walk out the back door will find you casting to rising fish in the famous "Channels" section of the Madison, fighting large, feisty trout on our private two acre pond, or stalking Jack Creek as it runs through the property. Daily float trips with professional guides on the varied sections of the Madison River keep experts challenged and novices thrilled. Other excellent fishing opportunities available include the Yellowstone, Big Hole, Beaverhead, Gallatin, and Ruby Rivers.

At the Madison Valley Ranch, our backyard is a fly fisherman’s playground. Spectacular Big Sky Country views inspire, and the daily activity of our wildlife takes you back to a different time. You can escape from the hectic pace of everyday life and indulge in a luxury adventure where all the details are someone else’s worries and you are just warmly welcomed.

Date Range

April 15th - October 31st.

What is Provided to Customer

We pride ourselves on folks being able to arrive at the Ranch without a single fly-fishing item and being able to head out for a fabulous day of fishing! Our packages include use of our Orvis rods, reels and bootfoot waders.

Region/Terrain Where You Fish

Located in the heart of SW Montana, the Madison Valley Ranch offers anglers unparalleled access to wild trout on renowned blue ribbon rivers.

The Madison River is often considered the greatest trout river in the world and we have over 140 miles of densely populated waters at our fingertips. If that wasn’t enough, a short drive and you can be fishing on the Yellowstone, Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby or Gallatin Rivers.

Madison Valley Ranch Property
The "Channels" section of the Madison River flows right behind the lodge and is a great section to fish. This area is wade fishing only with limited access and has a variety of water to fish. The "Channels" section is a great dry-fly fishery with an abundance of caddis hatches throughout the summer. Our guests particularly enjoy fishing this section in the evening, although it can also be a great way to warm up your fly-fishing muscles on arrival or departure days.

Jack Creek, a tributary of the Madison River, flows through the lodge property and is a great little dry-fly stream. With this private access, you can expect plenty of action with the resident brown trout.

The Jurassic Pond at the Madison Valley Ranch covers 2 acres and is located right next to the lodge. It is loaded with large, feisty Kamloop rainbows. Most folks fish from shore. The pond is a great place to learn or sharpen your skills. And, don’t be surprised if you catch yourself heading out after dinner to catch on a large trout during the evening hatch before bed!

Guided Fishing
The Madison River – Probably the most recognized trout stream in the world. The Madison offers 140 miles of trout bearing water. Known for its amazing salmon fly hatch and great hopper fishing, the Madison offers the most consistent fishing of all the rivers we fish. Day in and day out the Madison offers more and bigger fish. This river is great for both wading and floating combinations. Whether you are a novice or seasoned pro, the Madison River will appeal to your angling desires.

The Yellowstone River – The longest undammed trout stream on Earth. This is a great dry-fly river with lots of gravel bars. The Yellowstone provides your best opportunity for catching cutthroat trout. Known for its great hatches, we like to fish the Yellowstone in May, August and September.

Gallatin River- Another classic western trout stream. It's wade fishing only with lots of access.

Ruby River – This wade only river is narrow, meandering, with bushy banks and undercut banks along with some nice deep holes. Because of its challenges, the Ruby is not fished as much as other area rivers and the solitude and rewards of nice browns can make it worth the effort.

The Beaverhead River – This river offers great opportunities for large brown trout. It can be the most challenging river we fish due to its smaller size and finicky fish. The Beaverhead is not ideal for the beginner, but can be well worth the effort.

The Big Hole River – This is a classic western trout stream. The Big Hole is loaded with drop-offs, gravel bars, and lots of structure. We do a lot of wading on this river and use the drift boats more for access than to fish from. The Big Hole is known as a brown trout fishery, but it also provides your best chance at catching a grayling.

Private Water Spring Creeks – In southwest Montana there are a variety of great private water spring creeks we fish. Based on your fishing goals, we will help you determine the best creek to fish during your stay. Milesnicks, Depuys, Armstrong, and Nelsons all provide great dry fly hatches. Rod fees vary based on individual creeks.

Typical Weather by Season


The Seasons

Mid-April to May – Springtime is probably the best kept secret in Montana. All the rivers are low and clear prior to run off. You can expect lots of nymph and streamer fishing and surprisingly enough, dry flies as well. Caddis hatches provide some outstanding fishing throughout the spring. It's a great time to experience Montana as it greens up and as aggressive fish attack your fly.

June – June is a transition month in Montana. The snow pack determines how the fishing will be this month. For the last three years June has been an exceptional time to fish. Salmon-fly fishing typically begins at the end of June. Check with us to find out the status of the snow pack.

July – August – Lots of fun and sun. Late June and early July brings out the salmon flies on the Madison and the Big Hole. July offers lots of great hatches. In August you can start thinking big hopper patterns fished on the surface. We typically fish 2 flies at a time with a dry fly and nymph combination. You can expect great weather and fishing conditions.

September – Montana is beautiful in the fall. We still use large dry attractor patterns on the surface in early September. There is lots of great action all month long. The weather is usually mild and sunny and you can expect all of the rivers to be low, clear, and fishing well.

October – WE LOVE OCTOBER! You can expect awesome fishing from very aggressive fish. The weather can be some what unpredictable but the fish don’t mind. If you are a serious fisherman that enjoys fishing streamers then Oct. is the month for you.

Itinerary

Sample of Typical Itinerary

Our goal is for you to have the trip of a lifetime and we do so by customizing packages and itineraries that best fits your fishing and Big Sky Country desires. Take a look at our offerings, and give us a call to learn how to make your fly fishing dreams come true!

Activities

On-site Activities

Like going over to your best friend’s backyard, the staff at the Madison Valley Ranch sincerely welcomes you to feel at home, sit back, relax, and take advantage of all that this pristine property and SW Montana have to offer.

Enjoy your time at the ranch where trout tales and camaraderie abound – not to mention great food. A gourmet four-course dinner with appetizers and drinks may tempt you away from your own relaxing and spectacular porch views. Enjoy marvelous mountain sunsets, sandhill cranes in their mating dance, a fox popping out of its hole, or an eagle soaring.

Meandering trails lead you from the ranch down to the river for a bird watching stroll, or an invigorating run. Afterwards, you can soak in our hot springs hot tub as you take in the Big Sky and backdrop of the three mountain ranges framing the Madison Valley.

After dinner hit the hatch for our private Jurassic Pond rainbows. Test your skill on Jack Creek or even sneak down the path for more wild trout in our backyard Channels of the Madison River. We suspect you'll find yourself not wanting to leave!

Off-site Activities

Located in the heart of SW Montana, the Madison Valley Ranch offers anglers unparalleled access to wild trout on renowned blue ribbon rivers, but that’s not all…There are plenty of outdoor activities and attractions to fulfill everyone's desires!

Yellowstone National Park
Only 72 miles from the Madison Valley Ranch, Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 as America’s first National Park. Exploring this national treasure is an excellent sightseeing activity. Experience Old Faithful, the most popular geyser in the world, or view the colorful Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. View bears and wolves, elk and buffalo in the Lamar and Hayden valleys. Learn about the history of national parks and the National Park Service. Hiking, camping, fishing, or attending a Ranger-led program or a Yellowstone Institute class, are also popular activities.

Virginia & Nevada City
These famous historical mining ghost towns are only 15 miles from the Madison Valley Ranch, and are certainly worth exploring. Virginia City sits high in the Rocky Mountains in a bowl along Alder Gulch, where gold was first discovered in 1863. Within a year the town grew to over 10,000 and became the Territorial Capital in 1865. Today Virginia City, Montana's main street, provides an exceptional example of commercial architecture from the later1800s. Many of the original structures are filled with genuine artifacts. This is cultural tourism at its best and self-guided tours are available.

Lewis & Clark Caverns
Montana's first and best-known state park showcases one of the most highly decorated limestone caverns in the Northwest. Naturally air conditioned, these spectacular caves, lined with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and helicitites, date back through time. See geologic development in conjunction with the history of early exploration and gain a unique insight into the delicate ecology of this world without light. Plan to spend a minimum of two hours to hike two miles on a guided tour through the caverns. The park also provides hiking trails, a visitor center, an amphitheater, and several picnic areas.

Shopping & Touring
Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Big Sky, and Ennis all have many fine shops, galleries and restaurants. Be sure to ask about specifics when you arrive and we’ll chart out a day of shopping and touring that fits your ideal itinerary. Driving around Southwest Montana is a great way to take in the vast mountain vistas and we can point you in the right direction for a day of sightseeing.

Madison Meadows Golf Course
Madison Meadows Golf Course is a 9-hole course located in the scenic Madison valley. This challenging course runs through the foothills of the Gravelly Mountain Range. Host to one of Montana's toughest Par 5's, this course brings you back time after time. Although Madison Meadows is always active, it is very easy to get a tee time.

Horseback Riding
Full and half-day rides can be arranged in advance of your visit. We use Wolfpack Outfitters for our horse outings. Their goal is to provide you with a Montana horseback ride tailored to meet specific riding experience and adventure requests of your group. They use well trained horses accustomed to mountain trail riding. Rides are conducted on a variety of trails in the Beaverhead National Forest and mountain elevations range from 5,000-11,000 feet.

Other Recreational Opportunities
In Southwest Montana, the outdoor recreational opportunities abound. Hiking is a great way to explore the mountains and spot wildlife. Cowboy Heaven is a local favorite for getting your heart rate up, taking in great views of the Madison River, Ennis Lake, and the vast Madison Valley. This is a great ½ day (1-2 hours) hike. Follow Jack Creek and enjoy a great full day hike in the Gallatin-Madison Range, or veer off at Mill Creek to gain elevation quickly and reward yourself with the spectacular views of Fan Mountain and Lone Peak. For the more advanced hiker, trekking to Helmet pass and Sphinx Mountain is an awesome full day hike with great views, wildflowers, and wildlife. These are just a few of the area hikes we recommend.

There are also many alpine lakes in the area with some nice fishing opportunities. Depending on the time of year and snow pack, we can point you in the right direction for a little hiking, solitude and plenty of chances to present flies to trout in alpine lakes.

Mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes…the diversity and quantity of birds should thrill both the serious and casual bird watchers. Simply walk outside of the lodge and you’ll have opportunities to view eagles, hawks, Canadian geese, sand hill cranes, ducks, and more. Or, we can create custom outings to accommodate the birders’ goals.

With an array of area lakes, boating can be an enjoyable morning or afternoon outing. Designated as a Montana Wildlife viewing site, Wade and Cliff lakes are a wonderful place to rent a boat and enjoy the resident wildlife. Plenty of other boating opportunities are available, although Wade and Cliff Lakes may be the most revered. Full day motor boats rentals costs $75 and ½ day costs $50. Canoe rentals run from $25-$35.

Whether you’re an amateur, hobby, or professional photographer, these recreational opportunities could easily provide you with the shot of a lifetime. Depending on your desires, we can point you in the right direction for the shot you’ve been waiting for.

Lodging

Lodging, Meals, and Accommodations

Outside each room’s front porch offers a stunning view of the surrounding three mountain ranges, the ever-changing Montana Big Sky and the resident wildlife in the fields. While each room changes slightly in size and bed configurations, the local and warm western touches are consistent in all. Although, we suspect you’ll find yourself continually enticed outside to wet a line one last time before bed, or to be entertained by the breathtaking landscape.

Various gathering areas provide a relaxing environment to catch up with friends, check emails using Wi-fi or the house computer, watch HD satellite TV, or even schedule a corporate meeting using the fully equipped conference space (talk about a meeting outside the box)! Enjoy the hot tub as a relaxing way to marvel at the outrageously clear Big Sky. Combine all this with your well-appointed guest rooms and you’ll be rejuvenated for the next days’ great adventure! The food at the "Ranch" is memorable and the perfect complement to your adventure. Orvis’ Guide to Great Sporting Lodge Cuisine says it best:

After a day spent in the outdoors, the chance to come back to a meal from world-class chef Scott Warren is a fitting end to the day. Using the finest local ingredients as well as imported mainstays, Scott sets a table that ranks at the top of the lodge cuisine anywhere in the world.

Let us take care of the details, while you enjoy our luxury lodging, gourmet meals, and pristine property. Lifelong fly fishing memories are just a cast away!

Species

Species You Fish for by Season

In SW MT, the primary species sought after are wild trout! Our rivers and streams are populated with rainbows, browns, cutthroat, cutbows, and even brook trout. But, you may also have opportunity to catch our native, Montana whitefish and grayling.

Gear

What Should Customers Bring?

Personal Gear: Polarized Sunglasses, Rain Gear, Hat, Sun Screen, Camera, Gloves (spring/fall), Layers of clothing (fleece, etc.), Swimsuit (for Hot Tub).

Fishing Gear: These are just suggestions; please don't feel like you need to arrive with the following gear:

  • Chest Waders
  • Fishing Vest
  • Clippers & Forceps
  • Leaders 9'- 3x, 4x
  • Strike Indicators
  • Tippet Material 3x, 4x, 5x
  • Split Shot B, BB
  • Dry Fly Floatant
  • Fly Boxes
  • Wading Staff

If you are going to buy flies, we suggest that you buy them when you get here. This is a general list and often times we might be using additional patterns. Ennis has 2 very fine fly shops and we also stock flies at the lodge.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What's a typical day at the Madison Valley Ranch?
A. The day typically begins with a delightful buffet breakfast with lots variety to ensure you are well fueled for a day on the River! Shortly after breakfast, guides arrive and guest are off for an awesome day of fishing, typically returning between 4-6 pm depending on their fishing goals and stretch of River fished. Guests then for appetizers, drinks, and the inevitable trout tales! Then, everyone sits down together at our 2 large tables to enjoy a casual gourmet, 4 course dinner. Those who want to wet a line after dinner can head down to the Channels section of the Madison (a 50 yard walk), tempt the Kamloop rainbows in the Pond, or hunt for the trout in Jack creek (which are right out the door) until it gets dark. Or, you can spend your evening relaxing in the hot tub or just taking in the constellations and resident wildlife!

Q. I have never fly fished before is that a problem?
A. That is not a problem in the least. In fact, the Madison River is the best river around for beginners. All of our guides are seasoned instructors and will spend all the time you need making sure that you are comfortable with your cast and presentation so that you will have the skills to catch some fish and enjoy a day on the River under the Big Sky.

Q. On what rivers do you typically fish?
A. We most often fish on the Madison River, which is typically from a drift boat. Fishing from a drift boat is a truly spectacular way to see cover a great deal of water and hook into some nice fish. Since you are floating the same speed as the current is you get very long drifts with your flies. There are no worries about slippery rocks and current, plus you don't need to worry about trees on your back cast. That being said, there are also plenty of fabulous wade fishing options on the Madison River. In fact, behind the ranch is a wade only section. From full days wade fishing only to combination drift boat/wade fish days, we can easily cater to your fishing desires! Guests also enjoy fishing the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby, Gallatin, and Yellowstone rivers.

Q. What about gear, what do I need?
A. Upon booking your stay at the Madison Valley Ranch we will promptly send you an equipment list, map and confirmation. As far as rods go we recommend an 8½ to 9 foot 5 or 6 weight rod with corresponding reel. Chest waders are recommended vs. hip boots. Flies can be purchased at the ranch and licenses can be purchased in Ennis. Don't forget rain gear as well as warm clothes (especially if you are coming early or late in the season). We also have ORVIS rods & reels available for guest use, along with waders.

Q. My partner does not fish, what can they do while I fish?
A. There are many options. Often for at least one of the days they will ride along on the fishing trip. It's a great way to relax, see wildlife and spend a nice day outside. Other options include scheduling a horseback ride, spending the day in Virginia City (a must see town only 14 miles away), visiting Bozeman, Big Sky, or Yellowstone National Park (only 72 miles away). Or you can just take it easy and relax, read or rest at the Madison Valley Ranch. Don't forget Ennis, it's a great place to spend the day. You certainly do not have to be a fisherman to enjoy Madison Valley Ranch!

Q. What is the best airport to fly into?
A. Gallatin Field, Bozeman, MT (airport code BZN) is the closest airport with a 50 mile drive. With over 10 cities offering direct flights, BZN is the 7th busiest passenger airport in the Pacific Northwest. This is our top recommendation for the best airport due to multiple flights/carriers, and ease. Plus, you'll enjoy a beautiful drive along the lower section of the Madison River on your way to the ranch. Butte, MT. is next with a drive of 75 miles. Other options include West Yellowstone, MT. (summer only) at 75 miles, Billings at 175 miles, Idaho Falls at 160 miles and Jackson Hole at 175 miles. Salt Lake City is a 6 hour drive to Ennis.

Q. What is the best airport to fly into?
A. Gallatin Field, Bozeman, MT (airport code BZN) is the closest airport with a 50 mile drive. With over 10 cities offering direct flights, BZN is the 7th busiest passenger airport in the Pacific Northwest. This is our top recommendation for the best airport due to multiple flights/carriers, and ease. Plus, you'll enjoy a beautiful drive along the lower section of the Madison River on your way to the ranch. Butte, MT. is next with a drive of 75 miles. Other options include West Yellowstone, MT. (summer only) at 75 miles, Billings at 175 miles, Idaho Falls at 160 miles and Jackson Hole at 175 miles. Salt Lake City is a 6 hour drive to Ennis.

Q. How do I get to the Ranch from the airport?
A. Renting a car is a great option, especially if you are staying more than 3 nights and are taking a day off from fishing, it gives you some flexibility. We can also arrange a shuttle, so just let us know your preference. The cost is $170.00 per person round trip for the first person. Each additional person costs $40 per person round trip.

Q. Is there cellphone service at the Ranch?
A.Yes, although some of the places where you fish may not. Verizon has the best coverage in the Madison Valley, but most providers should have service on the Ranch.

Reviews

Madison Valley Ranch
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge
Kaitlin Groundwater, Guest Relations
Manu Redmond, Operations
307 Jeffers Road
Ennis, MT 59729
800-891-6158
406-682-7822

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