A whale of a tale
I wish so much I could bring all the copilots on this trip! This is the second year I have had the honor of visiting the sleepy fishing town of Ennis Montana with only 900 residents. Once known for its rich panning of gold and rubies, the Madison River flows right through the heart of this gorgeous town. Now, Ennis is known as the Fly Fishing capital!
America still has real gems for vacation homes or getaway spots and Ennis, Montana is one of those spots. Why should you consider visiting Ennis over France, Malta, the Caribbean or other more exotic places? Well, for beauty, summer climate, access to other great places, friendly people, relaxation and, most of all, fantastic fishing, Ennis Montana cannot be beaten.
With the rainiest months being May and June, July and August are the top notch fishing months along with perfect temperatures of mid 50's in the morning and up to 90's during the day on the river. Afternoon storms may roll in but my recommended fishing guides got us off the water with no time wasted and not a drop of rain on my head.
Another semi-difficult but well worth the hassle, most beautiful place to get to. I recommend flying into Bozeman (KBZN) airport. You can find a current schedule of flights here. Airlines include Delta, American, Alaska and United. From there you will need a rental vehicle. You will have access to Hertz, Enterprise and National. I had the honor of flying a private group into this vivacious airport and rented a bad boy sprinter van (shown below). If you need access to such a vehicle, I recommend Explore Rentals. What a wild 52 minute winding drive through the mountains and over the streams to Ennis. Worth every mile!! Make sure your passengers bring their camera!
High End: Madison Valley Ranch
I found this amazing private ranch in the heart of Madison Valley. I recommend this set up if you are hosting a group of fishermen. There are various cabins on the property complete with a Hottub, a stocked bar in the main cabin, a fishing hole, waders and rods for some fishing practice and a personal chef that will make whatever your preferences are for breakfast and dinner. They also provide a fishing outfitter and will schedule all of your fishing needs from boats, guides, lunches and equipment.
Fun and Locally supported: Rainbow Valley Lodge
I strongly recommend saying hello to Mr. Ed and his wife at this quaint and clean motel/lodge. This particular place is recommended not only for top notch customer service, but also that they provide a fishing outfitter and will schedule all of your fishing needs from boats, guides, lunches and equipment. They also have a continental breakfast every morning while you wait for your fishing guides to show. A few Mondays out of the fishing season, the lovely owner and his wife offer a farm-to-table dinner compete with beer, wine and live music. We were so lucky to experience this awesome dinner this year.
Basic with the Best food: Mcallister Inn
If you prefer to set up your own fishing and want to stay basic but enjoy an amazing view and really awesome wood-cabin decor, check this place out! Theres one of our favorite restaurants on the property with KILLER Walleye from Canada and some perfected Huckleberry Moscow Mules.
You are literally here to do one thing: FLY FISH YOUR HEART OUT! The few places I recommended above, will help set you up with an outfitter, or you can call ahead to any of the fishing shops for some local recommendations. I personally recommend my "Copilot" for this trip. I would like to humbly highlight my fishing guide from this latest trip that I had for two of the three days. I was so impressed with his professionalism, skillset and STORIES! He knows how to teach you, guides you and gets you fish on your hook. (He believes in barbs, some of the others don't) Dont make it any harder on yourself and book Dirty Mike! (See my copilot for this trip below for his details) His website is amazing and he works with lots of different guides and outfitters. The other guides we got were equally as awesome. I don't think you will find a boring or unlucky guide in Ennis. After all, these boys do this for a living. They wouldn't be working the river if they weren't good.
I think my favorite part of this years trip was that I got a "Grand Slam"! its a rare occurrence the guides see but I caught all 4 pure fish in one day! I got a rainbow trout, brown trout, white fish and the rare beauty, the cut-throat. SO unforgettable!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- You will need to acquire and pay for a state fishing license when you arrive. Your guides will ask to see them before you get on their boats. You can do it online here.
-Do book as soon as you can. The best fishing months June-August, book up super fast.
- Madison River is a catch and release river. If you wish to get a mount made of a prize-size fish, take a lot of really good detailed photos and your guide will hook you up with a taxidermist that will produce a replica for you.
- Lunch and beverages are usually included in your package and will be provided half way through your float.
- Alcohol is not included but the guides have coolers and plenty of ice for BYOB purposes.
- Please do tip your guide after each float. They actually do quite a laborious job and always speak highly of good-tipping and well-mannered clientele.
- You will not get wet if you don't want to on these guided trips so waders are not required. bug spray and sunscreen are truly necessary.
- Ladies and the potty thing.... the world is your toilet! the fishing guides had no problem pulling off of a bank near a tree to let me out :) hey, when your'e with the boys... do what you do!
Shop my Favorite Fishing Gear
Meet the Copilot
Meet My Fishing Guide and first male copilot of the site! Dirty Mike!!! A well established and very loved local, Mike has the goods when it comes to guiding your fishing excursion. Check him out at Discover Montana Outfitting! Book him before I do!
Bucket List Item
I have this insane bucket list dream of Heli Fly fishing! I would love to fly into a remote area and float out fly fishing the whole way! When you get into areas that require some strategic planning such as sending the boats up a day ahead and not wasting any time getting dropped off via helicopter, you know the views while you sip coffee from the air will be unforgettable as you scope out the river bed on your ride up to the boats! YES this will happen one day! You can read more about it here!