A shot from yesterday to give you an idea of what it looks like ‘round here. As you can see, you won’t need your snowshoes. I call this photo “Silly Saturday Scenery” and dedicate it to Mark Raisler.
The river has been very quiet this week. I think we’ve done a shuttle or two each day, and I’ve seen the occasional wading angler here or there. But I’ve also driven from Craig to the dam twice and not seen an angler. Typical quiet right before the holidays. School got out today, and I expect a few more anglers this weekend and into next week.
With the lack of pressure, we don’t have a ton of feedback to base a fishing report on. Most anglers I’ve seen or talked to have been swinging streamers from their feet, and doing well. Water type and fly choice seems to be all over the place. As I stated earlier in the week, I believe the fish are still transitioning to the winter tanks. You won’t find them everywhere in every run, but you can’t really ignore anything either. That’s a tough task when the days are short.
I would spend most of my time concentrating on 5he heads of runs (at the drop off), but I would start a little higher than normal for December. We’re still picking them off in fast water. In quicker water I would lean towards flashier bugs like the Skiddish Smolt, Kreelex, Zonker (all colors), Shock & Awe, etc.. When you get to slower “tanky”water is switch to a leech pattern or bugger.
Dont hesitate to fish a deep tip. I’ve seen some pretty good fishing with full deep sinking tips recently (10’ T-8 or close). Seems like the fish are still in some faster water, but holding a little deeper than they were 2-3 weeks ago.
I haven’t talked to more than a nympher or two. All reports have been good using the normal December imposters. The Rainbow Czech, various Firebeads, Red Worms, Pink Lightning Bugs, Zebras, etc. Mayfly nymphs are still producing.
The nymphing trick is way more about where than what. Whenever reports are either “we killed ‘em”, or “it was tough” (what I’ve been hearing), the successful crew was fishing in the right spot and the unsuccessful was not. So if you’re not getting them, try some different water.
Weve had a pocket of warm air associated with Chinook winds hanging around for a while. It’s been chilly to our south, even in Helena. More so in Butte and Bozeman. In Craiglandia, it’s mostly been in the 40’s. Pretty comfortable for this time of year. We’re supposed to get a little snow this weekend, and as the high pressure breaks down it will cool down a little, but still comfortable for winter fishing. And the wind should lay down a bit next week.