Winter Fly Fishing on the Madison

by | Fishing

The Madison River, an anglers play ground. Given that average temperatures were in the low 20’s with high winds for the last couple of weeks, what should two guys do on their day off? Fish!!!! Yes, Bryce and I watched the weather like hawks for days and finally a break in the weather. Overcast, low winds, and temperatures in the 30’s perfect conditions to land some trout!

We arrived at the river and began working fishy looking water. I chose a tail riffle below a small island and Bryce took off upstream hitting the banks of a side channel. Only 15 minutes into the day and we were both hooked up! Bryce yelled for me to come quick, so I netted my rainbow and ran up to meet him only stopping to get the trout a good drink every couple of seconds. 

As I got closer Bryce was wrangling a chunky brown and he forgot his net, dilemma solved! I swooped in and put the big guy with his friend. Having our Simms waders and Echo fly rods from the shop was essential to enjoying the day. If you stay warm and have great rods that deliver the flies you will always have a fun time no matter what the weather is like!





Down to the knitty gritty…. Everyone always wants to know what the fish are biting. In Montana you can get lots of answers throughout the season. Winter is no different, but at least the fish tend to key in on a smaller selection of insects. On this day midges were on the menu! My setup was a very small Jujubee midge (size 18 or 20) pattern up top with a soft hackle pupa (size 14 to 18) which imitates either a caddis or mayfly that is emerging. I put river friendly weight above the top fly to get them both down and attach a white indicator at the very top of my leader. I personally like the white indicators in the winter because the fish can be spooky and the white indicator looks like foam floating down the river. Tippet size is another hot topic here in Montana. This day I was going big or going home, I fished 4x tippet all day and the fish were non the wiser. I was glad I had it, these fish are really strong and the water is fast in the Madison. You have to have tippet that has some backbone so you can hook the fish and fight them into your net!