December 1st. All is well. Cold as it should be.
A common winter question at the shop is “Do you really fish during the winter? When the weather is like this? Really?
Oh yeah. And we are not the only ones. Lots of local and regional anglers visit the Missouri River during the off season. Great Falls and Helena residents including Butte, Bozeman, Whitefish, and even Spokane and Billings don’t blink about heading over for a day, or three.
A short drive for most. A large reward for all. As I stated yesterday we are into one of our slowest periods of the year. Not fishing wise. Although it is not red hot. More like Snow, White, Hot.
Missouri River December Weather
Cold. Mostly cold and somewhat windy. When the sun is high is does not mean slower fishing. But, but the fish do not mind the lower grayer skies either. I prefer the latter. It just feels fishier when the clouds obscure the sun.
Keep in mind while the mercury reads 24F, the high and bright sun will make it feel a balmy 37F.
The wind is the variable that really, truly, nobody is a fan of. If is blowing the fishing conditions can be questionable. Always give us a call before you head out for the current conditions in Craig.
Average daily December high temperature is 35F with the low being 15F. Average snowfall is 9 inches with the average precipitation coming in at 0.55 inches.
The upshot is cold weather and tough fishing conditions. Or for those who like the solace of the river in December…bring it.
Missouri River December (Non)Hatches
Kind of none. Some BWO’s around and some midges. More like the pink nymph fly hatch. Or a streamer Kreelex hatch. That is about it. Very little dry fly action. So, we go to the bobber and the Trout Spey Rod or a slowly stripped streamer on a single handed rod.
So what do I do? Find that soft winter water. Most of the anglers that arrive at the shop in the morning get the same explanation about water types. We constantly hear bad reports from those trying to play the summer game. Meaning that they are fishing in good looking hopper type water. The faster, sexy type of water. Stay away from that stuff in the winter. It is no good. There are not any fish in that ind of water. The water temps are in the Hi 30’s for the remainder of the month and the fish do not hang out there. Period. So if you want some good winter nymphing action find the slow and soggy water.
It is more a question of where. That is what we are getting at here. Where. The slow pond like water is the right stuff. Where you would not fish in the spring, summer, or fall. The slower inside bends with some structure. Or no structure. Look for the most boring water you can find and fish it.
Trout Spey is King
We love to throw the 2 handed rod in the winter months. With the advent of smaller trout size spey/switch rods the Missouri River is a fantastic resource to learn a new game. And we have them all. We are the education location for all things trout spey. With well more than a dozen demo trout spey rods in stock we are Montana’s Trout Spey destination. Demo lines at Headhunters as well with the entire range of Skagit and Scandi lines.
The Missouri River has a ton of killer swing runs at your disposal. You will see fellers out there practicing, fishing, swinging. Landing fish too. Depending on the water depth and speed you can either attach a lightly weighted pattern, a heavily weighted pattern, or an unweighted fly to the end of your switch rod. The fish can be anywhere on the swing, or twitch, or jig. Fish it, change it, strip it, swing it.
Craig Trout Camp Open All Year!
Craig Trout Camp is open all year long. We never close the most popular properties on the Missouri River The good news is the discounted off season price. Rainbow and Brown Cabins rent for $125/night and the Craig House starts at $250/night. Why stay anywhere else? Come out for the weekend. Fish, stay, relax.
Missouri River Off Season is Killer!
Lots of reasons to fish the off season. Low population of anglers. That is all I need to hear. But some like to catch a few trout for their troubles. No problem there either. Good fishing for those over-sized Rainbows. Stop in any time for answers, questions, coffee, a ton of BS, Christmas gifts, sale times, conversations…any and all.
Headhunters Fly Shop is your only daily fly shop on the Missouri River. We are here for you, the all seasons angler. And we love December!