Bobber Down

Madison River, Hoot Owl, Montana, Fly Fishing, Montana Fly Fishing, Best Places to Fly Fish, Best Places to Fly Fish in Montana


November 2021

Updated 11/30/2021

As we are approaching the darker days of winter after gorging ourselves on the “big meal”, we also find ourselves settling in for another winter of fishing on the Madison River. With water temperature dabbling around 32 to 40 degrees fahrenheit,  the fishing has turned primarily into nymphing and streamers. Over this beautiful Thanksgiving weekend here in Ennis, we witnessed some of our first ice flowing down the river around town. Further up river near Three Dollar Bridge, the fish are turning colors and slowly moving into deeper water to lower their energy output. Trout tend to follow this behavior when the water temperature cools off.

Moving into this time of year, it’s mainly about nymphing. With the fish not being as active as they are in warmer temperatures, nymphing is a great way to pick apart “buckets” where you would believe they are holding. The flies that have been more productive than others have been: Tungsten PMD Jigs in Olive or Purple, Purple or Yellow Perdigons (Skol Vikes),  Black and Silver Midge, Red Three Dollar Dips, Orange Scuds, and of course the occasional Worm or Egg will work.

Now onto the fun stuff…..winter streamer fishing! Everyone knows a streamer mission is a love/hate relationship, but it also gets the big ones to come out and play. With the majority of fish concentrating in slower moving water, it's easier to find where they are holding. Just like nymphing, you have to put your fly in front of them because the fish won’t move a long way to eat a streamer. That being said, I have moved from the big articulated streamers to smaller articulated and single hook streamers. Streamers that have proven successful: Mini White or Olive Dungeon, White/Olive Barely Legal, Black or Olive Peanut Envy, Mini Black Boogieman, Olive or Black Sculpzilla, Coffee or Smoke Sparkle Minnow, Olive or Black Meat Sweats, and of course an Olive Brown Town.

As temperatures turn frigid, continue to practice your best fish handling techniques. Take advantage of the low foot traffic on the river and get out there to fish! Avoid fish pictures for the gram whenever possible so that we can continue to have healthy fish populations for years to come. Check out our Cold Weather Gear collection to ensure that you’ve got the proper warmth to maximize your time out on the water. Tight lines!

- MRFC Guide Nicko Opinsky