Firstly, as of this posting (1/21/13) all of Southwestern Montana’s snow pack numbers are looking great. Most drainage’s are at 95%Â or above average.
Beaverhead River ~290cfs at Barrett’s
- Pipe Organ Bridge down is fishing well, as usual for most winter fishing nymphing will your best bet.
- Pheasant tails and Hare’s ear’s in #16-18 are always solid along with beatis patterns in olive; Zebra midges in black, red as well brassies.
- San Juan worms and egg patters are also producing, I like to use one or the other as an attractor and trail with a nymph.
- The patient dry fly angler will find fish rising later in the day to midge cluster’s; Griffith’s gnat’s or Parachute Adam’s again small #18’s and 20’s with plenty of extra tippet to aleviate drag.
- Don’t leave home without your streamer box too, once the water has warmed a bit in the afternoon they’ll whack a black wooley bugger or zonker in white or black.
- Keep your eye’s open for redd’s and for God’s sake stay off of them!
Ruby River~ 41cfs below the dam near Alder.
- The Ruby has been fishing good below the dam down to Alder, further down near Sheridan it’s iced up.
- Also a tailwater, patterns that work on the Beav, will work on the Ruby. Small Pheasant tails Hare’s ear’s and Princes sizes #16 and 18’s are go to patterns hear too, in tandem with an egg or San Juan worm you can’t go wrong.
- Fish are eating midges in the softer water in the afternoon fairly regularly here, so the Griffith’s gnat with a bead dropper is a fun way change it up.
- Again, watch out for redd’s and stay clear !
Big Hole River~ approx.225cfs near Melrose.
- The Big Hole is open from Melrose up, with ice along the banks.
- Being a freestone river with a healthy stonefly hatch you’ll catch fish on bigger patterns.
- Rubberleg stonefly patterns in sizes #6-#10 in black brown or olive. I also like Dave Whitlock’s Red Fox squirrel nymph in a size #6 or #8.
- San Juan worms and egg patterns are your best bet as a second fly in a two fly rig, although you can always just tie on a Prince and not take it off.
- Fish rising to midges in the afternoons are most easily fooled with a Griffith’s gnat or a purple haze.
- Watch your step, wear cleats if you have them and look out for redd’s.
Jefferson River~ 1019cfs near Twin Bridges. The Jefferson River is not an option, as it is under several feet of ice.
Madison River ~961cfs at Kirby Ranch, 1019cfs down near Varney Bridge.
- The river is gorged up again this year after our zub-zero temps over the last couple of weeks but is starting to open up .
- The boat ramp at Eight Mile has been plowed so drift boat fishing is a go from Mcatee Bridge down. In the wade section from Reynold’s Bridge to Three Dollar Bridge fishing is good.
- Nymphing with weighted rubberleg stonefly patterns sizes #6 to #10 in black or brown are go to as a first fly, trailing a Prince, San Juan worm, Shop Vac, or Pheasant tail sizes #14 to #18. Also consider a black or red zebra midge #16 or #18.
- Streamer bite is a bit chilly yet, but an olive Mini Loop Sculpin or a Zonker will always produce some nice brown’s. Some fish rising to midges in the afternoons in the slicks behind rocks and in front of headgates.
- A Griffith’s gnat, in tandem with a midge emerger is you best bet for these picky eaters.