Winter is one of my favorite times to fish. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful and the fishing can be really good. But you do have to put up with some hassles to enjoy it. Ice and cold will be your constant companions, and you better get used to it.
A few days ago, I was sitting at my tying station at home working on a few flies and just felt the need to get out and try some of them out. It was cloudy, cold and a little windy. But I just had to get out. When the need strikes, you have to go.
A lot of winter fishing is really just a nice drive anyway. You enjoy the drive out through this beautiful country to a famous river, and if the conditions don’t look right, you shrug your shoulders and head back to town. That’s just part of the game. I just needed to get out of the house and away from town. Taking a drive is a great thing to relax and clear your head.
I headed down to the Lower Madison, and the temperature just kept dropping. By the time I got to the access, it was 20 degrees, spitting snow, and the river was full of slush. But, against my better judgment I wadered up and headed down.
I could have just gone to the Gallatin, which is a lot closer, but I wanted to fish my Spey rod. Throwing the Spey needs a bigger river and the Lower is perfect. It is an incredibly effective way to present streamers to trout, and it works even better in the winter. Swing a streamer through those deep, slow runs and see what you can dredge up. You’ll be surprised. Spey casting is a lot of fun too. It’s so different than anything else.
Within half an hour, everything on me was frozen. Rod guides. Line. Reel. Waders. Icicles off the beard. The whole nine yards. I pulled my fly out of the water for a couple of minutes and it froze solid too. It was cold. Damn cold.
Needless to say, no fish were caught that day. But it was still worth it getting out of the house, and onto the water. A cheeseburger from Best Burger in Four Corners will make any fishing trip worth it too. Once things warm up a bit, it’ll be game on. Get out there.