It’s undeniably the time of year that everyone gets excited when the thermometer reaches 38 degrees. We aren’t necessarily dealing with prime fishing weather just yet; but after a long bout with winter, any temperature above freezing must be cherished with outdoor activities.
Personally, I took advantage of the recent “warm up” with a whirlwind tour that started on The Lower Madison, led to an overnight snowshoe trip in The Crazies, and finished up with a couple of days floating on The Missouri with friends. At the conclusion of this five-day hiatus from the indoors, here is what I know about the current state of fishing conditions in our part of the world.
In Bozeman, The Lower Madison is fishing just fine for February. As expected for a warmer weekend day, there were quite a few other anglers out on the river. We arrived just in time to secure a few good spots and catch a couple trout in the slowest water we could find. A nice afternoon Midge hatch brought a few trout to the surface, but our success continued fishing deep with nymphs. Regardless of what the fishing was like, I can say with 100% certainty that Norris Hot Springs still hits the spot and the beer/pizza scene is doing great at Bridger Brewing downtown.
On our home river, The Mighty Mo, things are starting to look more like spring. The fishing has gotten slightly better since the last time I visited the river a few weeks ago. Most of our success was fishing the deep inside bends in the river with nymphs, but if you hit things just right and look closely, there are some fish eating Midges on the surface. Typically, during this time of year there is no need to be on the river early and that certainly was the case the last few days. The water temps. are only in the mid-30’s and overall fishing is slow, with the exception of a nice afternoon warm-up period when the action gets good. A delicious breakfast with your fishing buddy in town is a great way to assure you arrive to the river just in time for the afternoon bite.
Overall, it has been wonderful to take advantage of a few warm February days with some fishing and catching up with friends. Since I haven't seen my drift boat for months, it was nice to dig her out of the snow and get ready for the season. And with the Spring Special only weeks away it feels great to knock the dust off my oars and get ready for the first guide day of the year. We know there is still some winter left, but with a hint of spring in the air it is only a matter of time before we are enjoying the great early season fishing in Montana.