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The Secret Season

Winter Fly-Fishing in Montana

The Secret Season: Winter Fly Fishing in Montana

5 Reasons to pack your fly rod with your ski boots:

1. Because streamers aren't just for 5 year-old's birthday parties.
2. You're more likely to see an elk or moose than another angler.
3. Spring creek rod fees are affordable - even for the proletariat.
4. No more "bumper boats" at the put-in.
5. God doesn't freeze rivers for a reason.

To the uninitiated, winter and fly fishing are often thought to be mutually exclusive. However, Montanans and other savvy anglers aren't deterred from seeking out that 4 pound hog just because of a little snow and brisk weather. In fact, a growing number of hardcore trout bums - and related piscatorial addicts - are known to score some of their best catches when the flakes are flying.

Here in Big Sky Country, many locals claim winter and early spring as their preferred season to stalk trout. Reduced spring creek fees on famed waters, such as Paradise Valley's Depuys, makes outings on these exclusive fisheries accessible to the common man and woman. Nymphs and streamers are often the bugs of choice this time of year, though midge and Baetis surface hatches aren't uncommon when the mercury pushes over 40 degrees Fahrenheit (a balmy experience which is not at all uncommon starting in February).

The Bitterroot River and Rock Creek in Glacier Country are two of the first fisheries to start turning on to late winter/early spring conditions. The Skawala (an early hatching stonefly) has trout biting in early spring. The Gallatin River offers ample afternoon angling opportunities after carving powder turns all morning at Big Sky Resort. Those looking for Browns and Rainbows in the 16 inch plus range would be well advised to head over to the Big Horn tailwaters in Southwest Montana. And if the trout are being finicky, there's almost always monster Mountain Whitefish (a.k.a. Big Sky Bonefish) to keep Montana's winter fishing surprisingly active.