Winter Fishing in Montana

Ice in the guides, ice in the spillways - it's wintertime fishing in Montana.

Ice in the guides, ice in the spillways - it's wintertime fishing in Montana.

With one arctic blast after another, most of us in the Northern Rockies are stuck inside tying flies and dreaming about our next outing. As the thermometer needle dips below zero, the mind wanders to the river and what it might be doing without us. While many of our favorite freestones in troutopia are frozen solid with too much ice to fish, there are some great opportunities for winter fishing. In the winter season we like to focus our efforts on the local tailwaters. When the weather breaks its time to go.

Blue bird skies and afternoon temps in the 30’s? You bet! Hop on out to our home water, The Missouri, for a few hours of wade fishing and a quick beer at Joe’s Bar in Craig. This is an easy option for those of us in the Helena area and a great opportunity to have the river to yourself.

Weather is looking good for the weekend? Yes please! Drag the boat to Eastern Montana for a couple days floating on The Big Horn. This option requires a little more logistics, but the thousands of fish per mile can be worth the extra effort.

See a warming trend on the horizon? How about a few days soaking at Chico Hot Springs and off-season rates at a favorite Paradise Valley spring creek. This might not be the best catching option. However, soaking in some steaming hot springs and the beauty of the Upper Yellowstone area make up for it. There might even be a chance to bring the significant other or family along too.

Whatever the venue, winter fishing is one of the great ways to stay connected with our rivers and enjoy the solitude that can’t be found in the summer. If we are fortunate enough to find the right conditions, or pack enough four-leaf clovers into our waders, the fishing can be pretty darn good too!

~ posted by guest contributor and MFO guide Taylor Todd