Winter Fishing – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Winter Fishing

It’s that time of the year again when the fish move out of their fast water holding areas and into the deeper slower runs where they can use less energy and feed lazily. If you haven’t fished much in the winter it can almost be easier than the summer time. In the winter you know exactly what type of water the fish are holding in, and there aren’t as many options of bugs for fish to eat. Your entire winter fly box can consist of some worms, eggs, brassies, and a few midge variations and you’re pretty much good to go on any given day. Through in a crayfish if you’re on the Lower Madison and a stonefly if you’re on the Gallatin and you’re all set. Another plus to winter fishing is having the river to yourself, all the tourists are gone and most people are cozied up next to the fire or up on the ski hills.
When winter fishing you’ll almost always be nymphing in slow moving deep runs. Changing the depth of your indicator and amount of weight you have on is often more important than fly selection. Once you catch a fish or start getting some bites, focus your fishing at that depth and that particular type of water that you are having success in. Once you find a fish there will usually be some other fish hanging out close by. The only bug hatches you are going to find in the winter are midges, so having a few griffiths gnats on you is always good idea if you want to fish some dries.
The only downside to winter fishing is getting cold and picking the ice out of your guides. Stanley’s Ice Off Paste by Loon is a great product to help with the frozen guides and having the right clothing and gloves is key. The waterproof Patagonia R1 gloves are a must to keep your hands warm when catching and handling fish, as well as a pair of Patagonia R1 pants to wear underneath your waders. The R1 panst make super comfy sweatpants to wear around the house and keep you warm if you’re wading in cold water. The fishing is certainly better than the skiing right now, so get after it before the snow starts flying again!