Happy Tuesday, folks. We’re now into February, and as I write this it is 50 degrees outside. With the warm weather does come the wind, but days like this almost make it feel like spring isn’t too far away. Don’t get sucked into that train of thought though - there is still a lot of winter left ahead of us!
Long winters are great. They give us all a chance to ski, snowshoe, enjoy the winter weather and scenery, tie flies, and take a much needed breather. Every flake of snow we can now is another drop of water in the rivers come summer. The Snotel map (shown below) shows us a bit below average, but we’ve certainly seen worse. The most important months for summer snowpack are still ahead of us.
So how’s fishing these days?
Solidly ok. It’s February, the weather is a bit wonky, and it’s been pretty damn windy. Conditions on the Yellowstone River have been icy through the Valley and up to Gardiner. The worst of the ice jams are from Point of Rocks to below Mallard’s Rest. Above Yankee Jim you can find some open water, as well as below Mallard’s. However, given the propensity of ice to move around in weird ways in warmer temps we recommend staying clear.
The river down below town is your best bet for open water, but even that hasn’t been great from a fishing standpoint. Kite flying, maybe. Fly fishing? Not so much. Like we’ve been saying for a while, if you want to get out fishing and don’t feel like driving too far hit up the local spring creeks. Midges are popping on these warmer days and you have a good chance at finding some fish on top if you can get out of the wind on a cloudy day.
Not much has changed since our last report elsewhere in the state. The Lower Madison is windy, but about the best bet in our local-ish area. Crawfish, dead drifted or slowly swung streamers and midge patterns should be in the box. Hike up Bear Trap if you’re after midges on top, and be ready to deal with the wind.
The Gallatin through the canyon is fishing alright, but watch for ice jams and shelf ice. Down lower in the valley you can run into issues with ice, so please be really careful. The Upper Madison is icy, and we’re still advising people to keep their distance given the dewatering issue a few months back.
The Missouri River is a pretty great choice. We’ve heard reports of people having “great” days swinging streamers through the deep and slow waters. What exactly is a “great” day this time of year? We didn’t get that info, but use your imagination. Classic winter tailwater patterns are producing fished deep and slow, and keep an eye out for fish eating midges on top on calmer days.
For those looking forward to warmer days, we’ve been getting restocked on fly tying material recently. Our Tiemco hook selection got a big boost this week, so get it while it’s hot. This is the season of filling boxes and making plans. If you’re planning to visit Montana to fish this year, we are now booking guided fishing trips for the 2022 season! Get more info here, and give us a call at 406.222.1673 to book. We’re expecting a very busy season in 2022, and booking early is smart!
Tight lines and good luck out there!