Madison Run has small plunge pools and riffles, and the gradient is moderate.
Madison Run is located in the Shenandoah National Park just outside the village of Port Republic. It is only about a 15-minute drive from our fly shop in downtown Harrisonburg. There is a parking area just inside the park boundary and a trail that follows the stream all the way up to its headwaters near Skyline Drive. Like many of the west slope streams, it fishes best during wet conditions. The brook trout average 6-8 inches, with chances for fish up to 12 inches.
Local guide tip: If you arrive at Madison Run and find the parking lot to be crowded, head three miles south to Paine Run. The two streams are almost identical.
The first big hatches can begin in late February or early March. Look for Quill hatches in the warmest hours of the day. April and May bring the best fishing of the year on Madison Run, as water levels are typically the best, and big hatches of March Browns, Hendricksons, and Cahills can be found. As spring turns to summer, the water levels typically drop and fish will move into “community pools.” Try to target Madison Run after some big summer thunderstorms, which can raise water levels and spur fish activity. Long leaders and terrestrial patterns are the key in the summer, and fall fishing can be great if the water levels hold. We typically quit fishing for brookies near the end of October due to the spawn. Winter fishing can be good, with heavy nymphs fished in the deepest pools.
The Madison Run Trail is well marked, staying close to the creek and fording it several times along the way. It is popular with hikers and horseback riders, so don’t be discouraged if you see a few cars in the parking lot. Like many park streams, anglers will benefit from hiking upstream father from the parking lot to find better fishing. Under good water flow, there are about two miles of fishable water. Madison Run is a fun and easily accessed West Slope park fishery!