November 10, 2020
After a beautiful period of unseasonably warm and fishy weather, we have definitively turned the corner from fall to winter here in SW Montana. Hunting season is in full swing and the snowpack is building. We are starting to think more about the next season: ski season!! However, winter angling on the Madison is real and should not be discounted.
While the lower reaches of the river are choked with ice and slush lately due to very cold temps, the upper reaches of the river continue to run low, clear and free of ice. Best bets for good conditions and good fishing right now would either be in the Bear Trap Canyon below Ennis Dam or above Windy Point up to Hebgen Lake in the in upper river.
Nymphing is generally the most effective tactic this time of year and a variety of small and large nymphs can produce. From Size #6 Black Turds all the way down to #22 Red or Black Zebra Midges. Naturally we like to run a variety of tandem rigs to help dial it in. Czech nymphing style is particularly effective this time of year in the upper madison. A heavy Tungsten bead point fly like a Copper John, or He-Man with a 3mm bead trailing a smaller Perdigon pattern can be deadly. Fish these on 4X and 5X and target the deepest and slowest seams and runs.
Yes, streamers will still produce also and may in fact produce the best fish of the day although typically it's not a great numbers strategy. Black and Natural bunny flies are a great choice, fished low and slow.
Perhaps the best part of winter angling on the Upper Madison is the dry fly fishing. YES, dy fly fishing. If you know, you know. When conditions line up right, the fish will rise steadily to the frequent midge hatches and can be very captivating. A Goober Midge or old faithful, the Griffith's Gnat fished delicately on 6X will take fish. Few things are more gratifying than a good dry fly fish in dead-ass winter weather!
Come see us at the shop for additional information and any and all gear you might need on the river, Tight lines!