Mild January Fly Fishing in Montana

January 2021

Fly fishing in the dead of winter certainly isn't for everyone, but it can actually be quite productive and fun. The caveat is that you gotta have the right clothing, the right attitude and go to the right spots. And none of that is really very different than most any other time of year....

On the Madison River you really have 2 basic choices for deep winter angling; Bear Trap Canyon or Reynold's Pass/$3 Bridge. And in both of these locations, dead-drifting nymphs is likely going to be your most effective tactic. We focus on the Euro style this time of year. Midges are the primary food source this time of year so you'll definitely want to have a selection of midge nymphs with you. I would compliment that with an assortment of the old classics: Turds, PTs, Hare's Ears, Lighting Bugs, Eggs, etc. Dry fly action is a definite possibility in both of these locations also, so it's also a good idea to be somewhat prepared for that with a few Midge dries and emergers.

Sure some guys like to swing streamers in the Trout Spey style for winter trout too. No doubt this can be effective, but this is where location becomes more of a factor. On the Madison this tactic is better suited to some of the deep runs that you'll find between Varney Bridge and Ennis Lake. We haven't seen the river gorge yet, but this stretch is quite often very slushy with significant anchor ice and shelf ice along the banks making any fishing all but impossible.

Another important factor when winter fishing is safety. Don't wade deep, and always be sure to have a wading belt on just in case you go down. It's always best to go with a buddy, or at least let a friend know where you are going and when to expect you home.

Good luck everyone!!