December 2021

Updated 12/16/2021

After the third recorded snowfall of the year, I’m willing to go out on a limb and declare that Winter has officially arrived in the Madison Valley. The propane is running, the wind is howling, and the streets of Ennis are saturated in a glisten of pre-Christmas snow. This fishing report is going to be slightly different from those of the past. The primary reason for this difference is that our shop hasn’t been fishing the Upper Madison since the Hebgen Dam gate failure that occurred on the 30th of November. We’ve spent most of our time on the Lower Madison over the last few weeks, with that in mind this report will be targeted towards that section of our fishery.

In terms of production, not much has changed since our last published report. Nymphing continues to be the most productive method for catching fish this time of year. Smaller flies, lighter tippet, and ninja-like approaches will give you the best opportunity to land yourself a winter trout. This time of year I tend to slow my fishing pace down and take plenty of breaks. Don’t be afraid to sit on the bank and warm your hands up with a thermos of coffee and a few hand warmers stuffed inside your pockets. Wintertime fishing is all about outlasting the cold, if you’re up for the challenge it is almost always worth it. Here’s a list of nymphs that I’ve been circulating between over the last few weeks:

Zika Jig (#18 - #22), Zebra Midge Red or Black (#18 - #22), T-Jig Grease Lighting (#14 - #18), Three Dollar Dip Red or Olive (#16 - #20), TBH Pheasant Tail (#18 - #22), Serendipity Tan or Olive (#18 - #22), Hot Spot PT Jig Purple (#14 - #18), T-Jig Purdee John Yellow (#14 - #18), Jig Napoleon Yellow or Brown (#14 - #18).

Ole Mr. W has been making it more and more difficult to fish this December. If you’re brave enough to stand in the water, be prepared to be blown around by the ferociousness of the wind. My favorite fishing hat should be somewhere near Frontage Road by now if my calculations are correct! 

Although I’ve had a few fish eager enough to take a streamer recently, it wouldn’t be my first method of choice. Should you choose to fish a streamer, slow down your retrieve and throw out the occasional dead drift to find out what fish are keying in on that given day. Fish are becoming lethargic as the temperature drops, they’re not going to chase your streamer across the river. Here are some of the streamers I have been throwing:

Brown Town Olive #4, Sculpzilla Olive (#4 - #8), Lil Kim Silver #4, Delektable Single Screamer Olive #6, Sparkle Minnow Smoke #4, Peanut Envy Black #2, BH Wooly Bugger (#4 - #8).

Looking for some fly tying material to create these patterns? Check out our fly tying collection online or stop by the shop! 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. Give our Cold Weather Gear collection a gander to ensure that you’ve got the proper warmth to maximize your time out on the water. Tight lines and Go Wild!

- MRFC Guide Danny Eiden