January is an interesting time for fly fishermen in Montana. There are still fish to catch, but the excitement of ski season kicking off distracts us, the ice in the water dissuades us, and the maddening effects of cabin fever haven’t kicked in badly enough for most to want to get out and freeze for a few hours. If you are feeling the need to get out, here’s what you want to know.
The Yellowstone River isn’t the best option right now. There’s a lot of ice mid-valley still, and if that doesn’t make you stay away the wind probably will. With the warmer temps we’ve had recently the wind has been blowing. A lot. It’s a constant for us in Livingston this time of year. You can still find some sheltered spots, and if you don’t feel up to a drive have at it.
The Spring Creeks remain at the top of our list. Availability is much more open in the winter, and rod fees are considerably less than mid-summer. Water temps stay consistent year round at these spring creeks, and this time of year is when we start to see some decent hatches of midges.
Out of the Livingston area, the Lower Madison and Gallatin remain solid choices. Wind is an issue on the Lower this time of year, but bundle up and you’ll be fine. Fish deep, slow water and you’ll find the fish. Will you see some midges on top here soon on calmer, warmer days? We think so. Beware of ice jams on the Gallatin, always pay attention. There have been some large ones down low by Logan, but the canyon has remained reasonably clear this time of year. Safety is always important in the river this time of year.
The Missouri is fishing as well as it does in the winter, for those wanting to make the trip. You can dodge a lot of the summer traffic by going this time of year. Fish deep, fish slow, and do your best to stay warm.
Otherwise, this is the time of year to fill boxes, make plans, and enjoy other hobbies. Our snowpack had a decent start, and a few weeks of warmer, dryer weather don’t seem to have affected it too negatively. We still have a long way to go until next summer, and we’ll be celebrating every single drop of moisture we can get in the meantime!
We’re open every day and here to help make sure you’re warm, dry, and comfortable when you’re out on the water this year. Stop by for flies, info, and the gear you need. Tight lines!