Madison River
Fishing Report

Updated weekly by our team in Ennis.

January 2020

“The charm of fly fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable. It is a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”  ~John Buchan

The calendar flips to a new year and we take time reflect on the past and look to the future. For many it’s a time to resolve to make positive changes in our lives during the coming year. We commit to pursue what is "elusive, yet attainable."

I love fly fishing on New Year’s Day. It pairs an inherently optimistic activity, with all the hope and promise of a new year. And as of January 1, 2020 I have now been doing that for 21 consecutive years! 

Fishing the Madison on January 1st is a very special personal and family tradition that began way back in late 1999, when Eric Shores, Mike Lum and myself decided we should catch the first fish of the new millennium on January 1st, 2000. We did it, and somehow I have kept the streak alive for 21 years since.

It's always a great opportunity to get out for a good winter walk with family, friends and the dogs. But the NYD trip is about more than just that. It is also about 1 fish. The objective is absolutely to catch that first fish of the new year. This adds a bit of pressure, but also makes it fun.

I was joined this year by a Gung-Ho enthusiastic crew that helped make it a great day: Rikki, Casey LeBrun, Rico Aquino, Charlie Cooper and his 9 year old son Reid.

It was a pretty typical cold and windy winter day with ice and slush flowing near Ennis so we headed for $3 Bridge. Skies were overcast, the wind died and there was 4 inches of fresh snow on the ground as we made first tracks in to the river which was flowing low, clear and free of ice. Reid was fired up and we waded in right below the bridge and commenced to fishing and catching! 

I was throwing my Euro-Nymph rod/rig with a #12 Jig Copper John and a #18 Black Zebra Midge (check out our recent Euro video here). In typical deep winter fashion, the fish were biting good! Collectively we managed to hook, lose and land lots of fish. Some pretty big ones too. Although we don’t have photographic evidence of our biggest fish, we did manage to catch a few good images and some video of the day.

I don’t know when this tradition will come to an end, but it’s been a great run and I will forever cherish the many great memories of these days spent with good friends and family!

Keep tabs on the Madison and Ruby River flows with USGS graphs updated daily.

Past Fishing Reports

View all

Mid-Winter Fishing on the Madison

December 16th, 2019 - Mid-December and not many of our crew have been out fishing the Madison lately. Most of...
Continue reading

Early December Fishing

December 5th, 2019 - The woes of winter, frozen water and blowing snow. As we approach the winter solstice the...
Continue reading

Late Fall Nymph and Streamer Fishing

November 22nd, 2019 - With November’s unpredictable weather upon us fishing has remained pretty consistent. While there has been some...
Continue reading

November Euro Nymphing on the Madison

  November 7th, 2019 - Winter is definitely settling in here, but the fishing has been heating up recently! We...
Continue reading


Snow has Arrived

Although we've gotten a few good days of snow, we're optimistic for a thaw and a nice sunny stretch before winter has the final say.

Popular Madison River Fly Patterns


Purple Haze #12-16
Chubby Chernobyl #6-1
Stimulator #10-16
Royal Trude #12-16
Elk Hair Caddis #12-18
Blue Wing Olive #16-22
Pale Morning Dun #12-16
Griffiths Gnat #18-24
Morrish Hopper #6-12
Turk's Power Ant #12-14

Chubby's #8-12
Yeager's Ant #14-16
Dorman's Water Walker #6-12 
Mini Water Walkers # 14-16 
Chubbyness #14-16 
Hopper Stone #8-10
Henry's Fork Stone #4-10 


BH Pheasant Tail #12-22
BH Hare's Ear #10-20
BH Prince Nymph #12-16
Pat's Rubber Legs #4-14
Serendipity #12-18
Psycho Prince #10-16
San Juan Worms #6-12

Jig Flash Back Pheasant Tail #12-16
Jig Prince #12-16
3 Dollar Dips #16-18
Deleckta Mega Prince #6-10
Deleckta Lil-Spanker #12-16
CDC Baetis Emerger #16-18


Wooly Buggers #2-10 black, brown, olive
Zonker #2-6 Natural 
Sculpzilla #4-6
Trevor's Sculpin #4
Double Bunny #2-6

Silver Bullet #6
Sparkle Minnow #6
Barley Legal #6
Mini Loop Sculpin #6