With January on the way out, we are in the depths of winter. We have been getting some scattered snow around town and in our mountains and we are thrilled to get every single inch of it! This time of year is always a bit slow for anglers, but there’s still opportunities to get out.
In our neck of the woods you are pretty much limited to the Paradise Valley spring creeks. Much of the valley is locked up in ice. You can find some open water below town or above Yankee Jim but water temps are cold and you’ll be dealing with slush, shelf ice and more. If you do fish the Yellowstone, be really careful. Rob drove back from Red Lodge a couple of days ago and said the water from Pig Farm, Springdale, Grey Bear down to Big Timber is all looking pretty ice free with easy access.
The Spring Creeks are on winter rates and generally have a lots of availability, even day of. When we get a not-quite-as-windy day that’s beautiful out, they are a great option. The midge fishing can be good this time of year, and it’s definitely some of the most technical fishing you can find in the state right now.
We are still advising people to avoid the Upper Madison at this time. Aside from the winter conditions and ice that frequent that stretch of river during the winter, it’s still recovering from the dewatering event late last year.
The Lower Madison is a great choice for winter fishing, and it’s close enough to Bozeman and us here in Livingston that a couple hours out there doesn’t have to be an all day affair. Be aware that it does get windy down there this time of year. On warmer days bring the windproof jacket and be ready to cast into the breeze.
The Gallatin in the canyon can be a good choice as well. The water from below Big Sky to the mouth of the canyon is a popular winter fishery as it generally stays less icy and access is easy and plentiful.
The strategy is pretty much the same across the board: fish deep, fish slow. Find the deepest, slowest water you can, and fish it deep. Midges are a good food source this time of year, and fishing a small midge pattern behind a larger stonefly or deaddrifted streamer can be productive. The larger pattern draws attention and then the fish sees the midge and eats it. Crawdad patterns are a great choice on the Lower Madison, either drifted slow or slowly swung.
For many, this is the time of year to sit at the vise and fill boxes for upcoming hatches and the summer season. We’ve got a great selection of materials, tools, and new vises from Renzetti and Regal. Unfortunately we won’t be offering classes or tying nights this winter, but we are always here to talk tying!
Need to stay warm and dry this winter? We’ve got waders, boots, base layers, insulation, gloves and everything you need! Come by the shop to check out the latest gear and up to date info on conditions out there. Tight lines!