The Ruby River is a spectacular small river fishery located in the beautiful Ruby Valley. Just 30 minutes from Ennis and and hour from Bozeman, the short commute is worth it to fish the Ruby. For such a small body of water, it holds surprisingly large trout. Dominated by browns, most of the fish run between 14-18" with fish over 20" a real possibility. The ruby is a fickle river and it runs the spectrum from blazing hot to icy cold. Although the Ruby is not as famous as some of its larger neighbors, our guides consider it as one of the regions top Montana fly fishing rivers.
Our Montana fishing guides keep constant tabs on the water levels on the river and we know when the Ruby is ripe for the picking. Knowledge of the river is also a must to have a chance at success and we can take you to many of our favorite honey holes that are off of the beaten path.
When the Ruby river is "on", you will be amazed that every little bucket seems to produce six or seven strong browns with terrific average size. Nymph fishing and streamer fishing are usually the ticket on the Ruby, although we sometimes catch it during a good PMD hatch and have a great time throwing dries.
If you have a few days to fish and enjoy wading, a guided wade fishing trip to the Ruby river should be on your list. Many of our guests enjoy staying in Ennis to target the Madison river. With the Ruby just a short drive away from the larger Madison, we find this is a great side excursion to add a little diversity to multi day Montana fly fishing trips.
Upper River to Ruby Reservoir
It's a long way to travel to the upper river, and the fish average on the small size, but its fun if your looking for high catch rates. Anglers are sure to find aggressive fish averaging 10" - 12" slapping at dry flies. Look for the easiest access within the National Forest boundaries.
Ruby Reservoir to Alder
The Ruby exits the reservoir as a tailwater and supports abundant midge, caddis, and PMD hatches. The river travels for a few short miles through a scenic arid canyon before abruptly transitioning into a meandering open agricultural valley. Two public FAS access points exist in the upper three miles and an additional two in the next six miles. Over zealous private landowners own property surrounding each of the small plots of public access limiting anglers' free range. Brown trout are predominant with a few rainbows intermixed. The Ruby is a true gem when its fishing well but fickle days can be humbling.
Alder to Twin Bridges
The Ruby descends the next 40 miles through beaucoup private "Ranchette" properties. This section offers some of the most difficult access imaginable with landowners ready to harass and arrest anglers at any given chance. Limited fishing pressure provides excellent streamer fishing even during hot sunny days.
Fishing the Ruby by time of year
Spring (March - May)
The spring fishing on the Ruby below the dam is excellent as long as the water flow is held in check by the Army Corp of Engineers. Check the gauges and avoid if you see any recent positive spikes. Spring hatches include daily midge hatches from February until April. Baetis overlap the midges in April and continue into May when they are joined by some caddis. Nymphing is usually productive using olive, black, and grey midge patterns in either larvae or pupae imitations. It is always worth chucking a streamer in the spring in the hopes of eliciting an aggressive brown from the deep pools or cut banks.
Run off (Late May - Late June)
The reservoir releases large volumes well into the beginning of July some years. The river's current is swift and difficult to manage during this time and should be avoided.
Summer (July - September)
Anglers often uncover productive hatches of midges, caddis, PMD's, as well as terrestrials. Small attractor nymphs, midge larvae and pupae, PMD imitations, attractor dries, terrestrial patterns and even sculpin are excellent and worthwhile choices. On a cloudy day streamers can be very effective when stripped down and across. Dead drifting a streamer is also an effective technique when cloud cover sets in.
Fall (October - November)
The abundant population of brown trout begin to spawn. Egg patterns are a great choice. Cloudy days welcome the chance for good streamer fishing too. Occasional midge hatches never fail to be observed near the dam. Tread lightly to avoid redds and leave paired trout to rest.
Winter (December - March)
The Ruby River remains open to fishing year round. If the daytime high's exceed 50 degrees and the sun's out then a trip to the Ruby is a worthwhile escape from the fly tying bench. Midge fishing at the FAS access points within a few miles of the dam is usually productive between the hours of 11am and 3pm. Nymphing with olive, chocolate, black, grey and red midge larvae or pupae is the most productive strategy.