Continued COOOOOOLD conditions have hampered our fishing efforts. But not our enthusiasm. The only nice weather we’ve had recently coincided with last weekends spey clinics. It was beautiful, but we were teaching, not fishing. There were folks some folks out on the river, but we just haven’t had enough water-time to give you a reliably accurate fishing report.
Yesterday (0) and today (+10) remain too chilly for us to don our waders, but beginning Thursday, we are looking at some prime time winter conditions with daytime highs approaching 50 degrees, and nighttime lows in the upper 20’s and 30’s. Wahoo! Break out the bobbers, midges, two-handers and tips! Hopefully the forecast will hold, although the skier in me wants it to keep dumping and remain cold. So does the August fisherman in me.
Speaking of snow, you might be interested to know that we just received and incredible storm resulting in 5 feet (yes, FIVE FEET!) of snow for many locations to our immediate north. The Bob Marshall and Glacier National Park received the biggest snowfall totals, with our local shreddery Teton Pass Resort topping the list at 65″ of snow from Saturday am through Monday. Julie, Adair and I were ripping up the waist deep and trying to stay warm camped in the resort parking lot over the weekend. We can attest that those numbers are true. Here’s a shot early Sunday morning at the 30″ mark during the storm. That dudes going to make the first chair for sure…
We will get some new SNOTEL total later in the week, but a cursory look at the site suggests that several drainages may have had significant increases in snowpack. And that’s good. I’m happy to see the Front Range get such great snowfall this winter, as it’s been pretty drought stricken along there for the last several years. Because there aren’t really any river fisheries of note along the front, many fly anglers are not aware of this. On the flip side, Kings Hill Pass – headwaters of the Smith, Judith and Musselshell drainages – has not received great snowfall this winter. That area has been a bright spot with plenty of snow over the last few seasons.
BACK TO FISHING
So, we don’t have a large enough sample to give you a super accurate fishing report, although Dewey and Braden have been out briefly during a few windows in the weather. The good news is that it’s winter on the Missouri. Nothing changes, Dude. Keep at it with the pink scuds and lightning bugs, worm patterns, Zebra Midges, and black leeches. It should all be good for the next week.
But don’t get too ambitious and try to hit the lower stretches, at least not for a few days. The river froze back up last week, and while it’ll begin to break-up quickly on Friday, there will still be lots of slush and drifting ice chunks. And the boat ramps will be difficult. We recommend staying on the upper stretches, and maybe even stick to some wade fishing.
And while it may feel great to humans, it’s still going to be fridgid underneath, so keep that rig in the slow stuff. We always recommend trying to gently lead your nymph rig with your bobber tight to the fly. Barely tight, but tight. The fish don’t care about a tiny bit of drag this time of year, and it will help you detect strikes that can go unseen with any slack in your system.