AMERICAS TROUT TOWNS - ENNIS
Ennis, Montana is a small community tucked away in the southwest corner of the state. This small community with a population of fewer than 1000 people only survives with a small ranching and tourism economy. During the summer months this small trout hub crawls with fisherman all whom have come to fish the Madison River. Like most towns, catering to fishermen, they accommodate your needs quite well. Although Ennis sits on the shores of the Madison you are within an hour's drive to some of the other great rivers of the American west: the Gallatin, Yellowstone, Beaverhead, Ruby and Jefferson Rivers can all be fished from this one central location along with Henry's Fork of the Snake River in Idaho.
The Madison traverses for over 120 miles, providing beautiful scenery and is home to some sizeable rainbows and browns. The river provides some excellent hatches with caddis starting to come off about the second week in June. The river provides many opportunities for both waders and floaters with shallow rock riffles to deep pools. Be careful when wading, the Madison does in fact have some strong undertows. Also be alert for rattlesnakes while fishing Montana waters; over the years of fishing these waters I have had encounters on several occasions. When people speak of the Madison they are generally referring to the stretch of water from Ennis to Quake Lake. This is truly the best section of the river to fish if you are planning on filling your creel limit each day. Although I always carry a couple of guide books with me, you'll find that Montana does an excellent job of posting its access sites and there are plenty of them. Non-residents pay a healthy fee to fish these waters.
On fishing trips my truck stops at all fly fishing and tackle shops. I'm not sure if it's a male gene or if it's built into the warranty of my truck. None-the-less it happens. I'm always looking for that magic fly pattern or information regarding that 'secret spot' to fish. Fly shops come and fly shops go, but on any given day in the Ennis area you'll find enough fly shops to occupy hours of your free time.
Two such shops that have been there for a very long time are 'Madison River Fishing Company,' and 'The Tackle Shop.' Each of these shops provides a full service environment; everything from equipment to guides. They have an excellent selection of flies, many tied by locals. Both stores are more them happy to provide you with detailed information about hatches, river conditions and access sites. I've found the staff at both stores to be both knowledgeable and professional.
There are several good motels in town, all with excellent reputations. But for my money I want to stay right on the river. I usually stay at Galloup's Slide Inn near the intersection of Hwy. 287 and Hwy. 87. They have cabins, RV sites and a fly shop right on the premises.
There is a good variety of restaurants and bars on the main strip. The 'Ennis Café,' which has been there as long as I can remember, is a favorite with both locals and fishermen for the breakfast. The 'Silver Dollar Bar' and the 'Long Branch Saloon' have also been long time gathering places for trout fishermen. The 'Long Branch' offers excellent service, with a full service bar and a full menu including steaks and sea food. You'll have no problem at these two places finding guides and sportsmen to share evening conversation about hatches and access sites.
See you on the water…..
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